8-80 Cities

8-80 Cities

April 26, 2012 12:40 ET

We Agree: It's Time to Slow Down

8-80 Cities Supports Chief Medical Officer's Proposal to Lower Speed Limits

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - April 26, 2012) - This week, Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's chief medical officer, proposed the city adopt a 30 km/hour speed limit on residential streets. Citing a report (Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto), that found every 10km/hour reduction below 60km/hour can effectively save a life, McKeown argued the proposal is a necessary step toward pedestrian safety.

8-80 Cities couldn't agree more. The organization has been a strong advocate for the lowering of speed limits on residential streets for a while now. "Reducing speed is critical to establishing a livable city," explains Executive Director, Gil Penalosa. In fact, the non-profit will soon be publishing its own report, Livable Streets for All, 30k Speed Limits in Urban Neighbourhoods. It's part of an overarching movement to slow residential streets in cities, coinciding with the United Nation's Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011-2020).

Some may view McKeown's proposal as controversial but 8-80 Cities believes the facts speak for themselves. A 2007 City of Toronto Collision Study, for example, found 50% of fatalities in vehicle collisions are seniors. According to a the World Health Organization's World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention (http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/publications/road_traffic/world_report/en/index.html) a pedestrian has an 80 percent chance of dying when hit at a speed of 50kph, and a 10 percent chance of dying when hit at 30kph. A 2009 British Medical Journey study, meanwhile, reported that casualties were reduced by 40 percent in areas that implemented a slow zone, with the number of children killed or seriously injured reduced by 50% (www.20splentyforuk.org.uk).

And according to the World Health Organization, children living near roads with heavy vehicle traffic have twice the risk for respiratory problems than children living near less trafficked streets. Health issues aside, Penalosa asks, "Why should children and their parents be so terrified of vehicles? We need to build cities for people." Reduced speeds would allow city residents to walk their streets and engage with their neighbours in a more peaceful and calm manner.

What's more, if Toronto adopts the proposal, it will be following in the footsteps of a growing number of cities worldwide moving to slow down cars in residential areas, including London, Copenhagen, Portland and Graz, the second largest city in Austria where over 90% of streets already have lower speed limits. New York is currently deliberating implementing "Slow Zones", with a large number of neighbourhoods applying for the designation.

"Ensuring everyone - no matter their age, gender, or economic status - has the opportunity to safely walk as a part of everyday life in their communities is vital," says Penalosa. Dr. McKeown is simply advocating for a movement already in full force, he adds. Toronto just needs to join in. Lowering speed limits will ensure residents enjoy safe, healthy and vibrant communities."

About 8-80 Cities

8-80 Cities is a non-profit organization based in Toronto, Canada. We are dedicated to contributing to the transformation of cities into places where people can walk, bike, access public transit and visit vibrant parks and public places.

8-80 Cities is based on a simple philosophy: If you create a city that's great for an 8 year old and great for an 80 year old, you will create a successful city for everyone. This is an 8-80 City.

We have worked on diverse projects in multiple urban areas across Canada, the United States, Latin America, Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand.

For more info: http://www.8-80cities.org.

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