It has been more than three months now since I started my election campaign to be a City of Mississauga Councillor for Ward 6. From the beginning, I have made it a priority to visit with as many residents of the Ward as possible. To date, I have knocked on about 5,000 doors with more conversations being added the total every day. In addition to introducing myself to people, my goals has been to understand and document people’s concerns. One of my biggest tasks as a councillor will be to address those concerns to the best of my abilities.

Four Big Issues

In my conversations, I have heard many types of concerns. Four have come up more than any other:

  • traffic safety,
  • rising property taxes,
  • a lack of city follow-up when people raise problems and,
  • crime levels in some neighbourhoods.

Before election day, I hope to address all of these matters, starting with traffic safety.

The Traffic Safety Problems

Specific traffic safety concerns vary by street and neighbourhood. The issues can be grouped into four categories:
  • extreme speeding,
  • running stop signs,
  • not slowing down near schools and parks, and
  • distracted driving.
I have spoken with people who fear for their children’s safety or who feel forced to drive their kids to school because of unsafe streets. I have learned of seniors and those with mobility issues who are not able to access parks and community facilities because of busy streets with no nearby crossing zones. I have even spoken with multiple people who have faced drivers crashing into their yards, parked cars, and in one case, home. This situation is unacceptable. We can do better.

The Key Types of Solutions

Solving, or even just improving, big problems typical requires tackling them on multiple fronts. To address traffic safety, three categories of solutions are required. These are:
  • Street design improvements to achieve traffic calming.
  • Targeted enforcement to maximize the effect of police presence.
  • Public engagement to make residents part of the solutions.
There are specifics we need to consider in each of these three categories.

Street Design

There are multiple street design elements that have been proven to reduce excessive vehicle speeds, make pedestrian/vehicle interactions safer and reduce high-speed vehicle collisions. Seven examples are presented below. Select an element to learn more.
  • A speed hump (versus a parking lot speed bump) is a low, paved mound designed to reduce mid-block speeds to approximately 30 km/h. It is a gentle transition for slower moving vehicles, but is uncomfortable for faster moving vehicles. Speed cushions are used on roadways with a posted speed limit of 50 km/h. Speed cushions provide an opening designed for vehicles with a wide wheel base, such as buses and fire trucks, so they may pass through with minimal disruption. Speed tables are similar to speed humps, but also include an elevated flat area similar to a raised crosswalk. The speed table has the same function as a speed hump, but is used in 50 km/h speed zones.
  • Curb extensions are typically a reconstruction of the sidewalk to extend into the roadway, resulting in a narrower roadway width. They can be placed at intersections or at mid-block locations. Median islands on wide, busy streets can provide pedestrians with a safe mid-way point when crossing uncontrolled intersections.
  • Pedestrian crosswalks are important on long busy streets where there are no nearby vehicle traffic lights. Pedestrian activated signals can use either overhead flashing lights or a more traditional stop light configuration. Intersection markings can be important on busy secondary streets. These include the large stop lines and zebra crossing marks. They increase stop sign compliance and help stop drivers further back from pedestrians crossing intersections.
  • Limit your speed boards are permanent signs which use a radar detection system that is activated by speeding vehicles. When a vehicle is speeding, the radar system is used to detect the speed and the sign displays flashing lights, the speed limit and a message to slow down.
  • Street and intersection alignments seek to reduce the number of high speed collisions by reducing the angle of impacts or improving the viewing angles of merging drivers. Example realignment options include traffic circles and straighter right turn ramps.
  • Reducing the width of wider-than-required lanes with pavement markings is proven to reduce traffic speeds. These markings can include adding centre lines on neighbourhood streets that do not have them; marked parking lanes; bike lanes, painted medians and more.
  • Signage can be used to control traffic by alerting motorists of traffic-calmed neighbourhoods, restricting turns, prohibiting through traffic and incorporating one-ways. Such restrictions are particularly useful during school pick-up/drop-off periods or during rush hours.

Targeted Enforcement

It is important that law officers are focusing their efforts on our most dangerous streets. Council and the Police Services Board can ensure this focus. Technology can also assist.
School Zone Speed Cameras
Unlike red light cameras. The Province of Ontario does not currently permit speed cameras. However, the City of Toronto is lobbying the province to change the regulations and is installing a warning-based camera system as a pilot project. Mississauga could join these efforts to use cameras targeting school zones as an example.

Engagement

While education and safety promotion alone do not adequately ensure responsible driving, these efforts do have a role to play.  Resident associations and safety campaigns are examples of engagement strategies.
Resident Associations
Resident (or Neighbourhood) associations bring neighbours together to work in common cause. They can be used to lobby council for safer street features and to foster safer driving practices by those in the area.

Next Steps – Six Tasks

My plan after the election would be to assess the current state of efforts, share my efforts and ensure deliverables. This would be accomplished through the following six steps:
  1. First, I would review the city’s current plans to address street safety in the ward and across Mississauga.
  2. Then, I would categorize the issues I have heard across the ward and invite further feedback.
  3. Next, I would identify the gaps between the city’s plans and the identified needs.
  4. From this, I would work with city staff and council to create a priority-based set of street design, enforcement and engagement tasks.
  5. With plan in hand, I would share the proposals online and via direct engagement with residents.
  6. Finally, I would monitor the progress of the plan’s implementation, and the results of the improvements and report back to the ward.
     

Help Me Fight for Safe Streets

If safe streets are important to you, please join my efforts. You can participate in one or more of the following ways:
  • Donate to help get the word to more people and increase community engagement.
  • Take a lawn sign to show your support.
  • Volunteer to join our discussions with your neighbours and people in our community.
  • Sign up to make phone calls to let people know about the issues and the importance of voting.
  • Host a gathering of neighbours, friends or colleagues where I can come meet people and discuss the issues.
  • Vote, and get others to join you.