On May 16, 2019, another cyclist lost their life on Ottawa's streets. It happened just metres away from City Hall, and right next to Ottawa's flagship piece of bike infrastructure, the Laurier bike lanes. This tragedy - like so many pedestrian and cycling fatalities that happen throughout the year in Ottawa - was avoidable.
While it is common to call these events "accidents," the root causes of these instances are bad policy and design. The 2019 tragedy has been followed by more recent events involving severe injury and death. Each tragic incident is a product of the choices we have made in building and designing our city. We have built our city around the car - prioritizing ease of travel and speed for car users. Every decision has trade-offs, and a recurring consequence of our current system is severe injury and death for pedestrians and cyclists.
This must end now. Ottawa can choose a better way forward - one that eliminates severe injury and death from our streets. Click here to demand action from your councillor and the mayor today.
Cities around the world are adopting "Vision Zero," a road safety project that aims to eliminate severe injury and death on streets. Started in Sweden in 1997, the Vision Zero concept has moved to countries, regions and cities around the world. In Canada, cities like Toronto, Edmonton and Surrey have been leading the way in adopting Vision Zero, and re-designing their streets for safety in the process.
Despite the clear need for safety improvements on our roads, the city is only inching forward. For example, with the city’s new 2020-2024 Road Safety Action Plan, while Ottawa has formally approved a target of zero fatalities by 2035 it has no clear strategy on how to get there. The city’s policy goal aims for a 20% reduction in severe injury and death by 2024. The City needs to enact sweeping policy reforms that would address safety challenges at a systemic level, while identifying a clear strategy to reach zero traffic fatalities faster.
The drafting of the Transportation Master Plan in the next two years is a major opportunity to rectify this gap and embed strong Vision Zero policies and substantial measures to make our streets safer, such as:
- higher safety standards for infrastructure;
- more segregated bike lanes and pedestrian crossovers;
- reducing the speed limit to 30 km/h on residential streets and other areas like school zones;
- eliminating right turns on red; and
- altering traffic signals to give vulnerable road users priority over vehicles.