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City of Toronto Wins TAC Road Safety Engineering Award

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The winner of the Transportation Association of Canada (TAC) 2016 Road Safety Engineering Award is the City of Toronto in recognition of its Curb Radii Design Guidelines.

This award recognizes exemplary contributions by a TAC member organization in Canadian roadway safety engineering and infrastructure. It also encourages the development and implementation of roadway safety countermeasures, guidelines and safety management systems for roadway design and operations. 

To respond to the needs of all road users and improve the safety of the most vulnerable users, the City of Toronto developed context-sensitive curb radii design guidelines in early 2015. During the transition phase in 2015, the guidelines were applied to a limited number of projects but were applied to all 2016 projects.

“All future road reconstruction projects and any resurfacing projects where curbs need to be reconstructed will apply the new design guidelines,” explains Sheyda Saneinejad, Project Lead, City of Toronto. “This is in addition to all intersection geometric safety improvement projects that involved curb radii reconstruction as a component.”

The curb radii at the intersection of Neilson Road and McLevin Avenue in Scarborough, one of the top-ten most dangerous intersections for pedestrians, were redesigned according to the new guidelines. Preliminary evaluations show that vehicle yield behaviour to pedestrians crossing the road improved to 81% after construction, from 64% prior to construction.

The guidelines consider various factors, including road classification, truck volumes, expected vehicle types, land use, approach lane and departing lane widths, intersection angle, and the presence of bus routes and bike lanes.

Toronto-specific guidelines are expected to have helped to reduce the number of pedestrian-vehicle collisions at intersections. They require vehicles to manoeuver turns at slower speeds; improve driver sight angle of pedestrians and perpendicular traffic; and reduce pedestrian crossing distances. Smaller curb radii reduces the time a pedestrian is exposed to vehicular traffic in the intersection, therefore decreasing the probability of pedestrian-vehicle collisions.

Overcoming Guidelines Communication Challenge

According to Sheyda, communicating the change and the new way of doing things to all players has been a challenge. Given the size of the City and the number of people involved in designing and building roads in Toronto, dissemination of information down the silos and hierarchies of a large organization hasn't been easy. In addition, the new guidelines are context sensitive and therefore more complex.

“There is a need to ensure the guidelines are understood and applied correctly by staff in many divisions within the City, other City agencies and consultants hired by the City or other agencies involved in road design,” adds Sheyda. “To address this challenge staff have developed training material and delivered several training sessions to various groups within the organization. In addition, tutorials are being developed for public online access to further assist with application of the new guidelines.”

Application of the curb radii guidelines is one of the countermeasures that will help the City achieve its Road Safety Strategic Plan of eliminating fatal and serious injury collisions, in line with other Vision Zero strategies. The guidelines are influencing how cities across Canada rethink the design of our roads from a multi-modal safety perspective.

Before-after data collection and analysis is planned for two additional intersections receiving curb radii reduction treatments in the fall of 2016.

Three other submissions, reviewed by a selection committee appointed by TAC’s Road Safety Standing Committee, were also received: Vancouver Cycling Safety Study and Action Plan (Urban Systems); Port Mann Highway 1 Improvements Project from Vancouver to Langley (McElhanney Consulting Services); and Safe Journeys to School Initiative (City of St. Albert).

The award will be presented at the 2016 TAC Conference & Exhibition in Toronto, September 25-28.