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Car-dependent spatial structure

Earlier this week a 58 year old woman named Dalia was struck and killed by a car near the University of Toronto’s downtown campus. This tragedy has everyone talking about and questioning how to make our roads safer, though the answers are not difficult to find. Here is an excerpt from a piece that Richard Florida penned following the incident called, Toronto’s Deadly Car Crisis:

Today, more Torontonians die from being hit by cars than from being killed by guns. In 2016, nearly 2,000 pedestrians and 1,000 cyclists in the city were hit by cars. Of these, 43 resulted in fatalities. On average, a pedestrian in Toronto is hit every four or five hours, and a cyclist every eight or nine. This means that Toronto’s rate of pedestrian deaths was 1.6 per 100,000 people in 2016 — worse than in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Washington, D.C., Portland, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo. It has risen to 1.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 and is on track to rise still further to 1.8 deaths per 100,000 this year. And, children and the elderly face the greatest risk of being struck and killed by a car. The problem is only getting worse. Across Canada, pedestrian fatalities increased by more than 10 percent between 2010 and 2016; at time when they decreased by more than 25 percent in European countries like Norway, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

The broader issue is what he refers to as Toronto’s “car-dependent spatial structure.” And it is detrimental to not only our public safety, as we saw this week, but also to our ability to grow as a global city. The Greater Toronto Area is projected to reach 10 million people by 2041. I agree with Florida that, for a number of important reasons, we are going to need to commit ourselves to a new model for growth.

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