Walking across the city, it’s not hard to see how many of Toronto’s streets are unfriendly and sometimes dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists. The outcome of these poor street designs is deadly. A Toronto Public Health report found that pedestrians account for 52% of all fatalities and 11% of all injuries from collisions with motor vehicles in Toronto despite having a mode share of only 8.6%.1 2
It’s always appalling to look back on the data from previous years, and it is also saddening when a single event is reported in the news or on social media. But there has nothing to fill the gap between the churn of the news cycle and the governmental tabulation and publication many months later.
That is why I started #struckTO, a database of reported collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists. This helps visually convey the magnitude of the problem, provide some hard numbers, and bridges the gap between the news cycle and formal reports. #struckTO is a tool to get the latest information on road violence in Toronto in 2018.
Below is a map of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities between 2007 and 2016, based on an open dataset from Toronto Police Services.
This graph shows the cumulative rate of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities per capita between 2007 and 2016, based on the open data used for the map above, and the 2018 data from the #struckTO database.
Toronto’s Vision Zero efforts have been ineffective, or lacking completely, and this has translated into the city bucking national trends. Other major Canadian cities, and the Canada-wide average, have been trending downwards in terms of pedestrian and cyclist deaths per capita, while Toronto has been trending upwards. Toronto is now the worst city in Canada for pedestrian and cyclist deaths.
Pedestrian and cyclist deaths in the US have been increasing, and Toronto has yet to match the per capita rates nationwide, or in other cities such as Los Angeles. However, New York has started a Vision Zero program that has seen their deaths per capita trend downwards. It’s so effective that in 2015, New York fell below the US national average. Meanwhile, Toronto’s upward trend means that it surpassed New York’s pedestrian and cyclist deaths per capita. This is continuing so far in 2018.
2018 data is compiled by myself and is not to be construed as official. The 2018 data is most likely incomplete due to lack of reporting from sources. It also does not included unreported collisions, which Toronto Public Health estimates may be around 15% higher than total pedestrian and cyclists collisions reported.1 The statistics are distributed for discussion, and do not indicate fault.
The general disclaimer aside, between 2008 and 2012, 67% of pedestrians had the right of way when they were struck by a vehicle.3 As for the remaining 33%, a portion may be due to a lack of infrastructure (crossings to give them the right of way). The statistics are not an argument against cars; they are an argument for building safer streets, which is in everyone’s interest.
Also remember that these are numbers; each 1 is a living person injured or killed walking or biking in Toronto. This has far-reaching implications beyond the victim; it impacts the victim’s friends and family members, it impacts the vehicular driver involved, it causes lost productivity in the economy, and it costs our health care system. Overall, it contributes to a decline in Toronto’s livability.
* 2018 pedestrian/cyclist strike and death data is based off of Toronto Police Service reported incidents via Twitter (@TPSOperations) and retweeted by StruckTObot (@StruckTObot), Toronto Police Service news releases, and other incidents reported by local media. The counts of pedestrians and cyclists struck include all incidents; deaths are a part of the total incidents, and not discrete.
** Pedestrian/cyclist fatality data from 2017 and previous is via the Toronto Police Service’s Killed and Severely Injured open dataset. Data for other cities is via respective municipal sources and supplemented by accountable media sources. Canada-wide data is via Transport Canada. US national data is via federal government sources.
a Where incidents occur on the border of a ward and/or a community council area, the incident is divided between them (i.e. 0.5 for each ward/area on the border between 2 areas, 0.33 for each ward/area on the border between 3 areas, 0.25 for each ward/area on the border between 4 areas). This may create rounding errors.
b Population for city-wide per-capita rates is based off of Statistics Canada 2016 and 2011 census population for City of Toronto. Population for community council area per-capita rates is based off of 2016 population counts provided courtesy of the City of Toronto. Populations for 2017 and 2018 are estimated by calculating growth rate between 2011 and 2016, and projecting linearly.
1 Toronto Public Health (2012). Road to health: improving walking and
cycling in Toronto. Available at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-46520.pdf
2 Spurr, Ben, and Cole, Matthew. Share of Torontonians taking public transit is on the rise, while reliance on cars declines. Toronto Star. Published November 29, 2017. Available at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2012/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-46520.pdf
3 Toronto Public Health (2015). Pedestrian and Cyclist Safety in Toronto. Available at https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2015/hl/bgrd/backgroundfile-81601.pdf