Lower speed limits proposed for Toronto

Toronto's chief medical officer of health has released a report calling for reduced speeds on the city's streets to make it safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

Speed on residential streets could be reduced to 30 km/h

The proposal would see speed limits reduced. (CBC)

Toronto's chief medical officer of health says speed limits in the city need to be lower — much lower.

Dr. David McKeown is recommending speed limits be reduced by as much as 20 km/h, saying the slower speed limits will protect pedestrians and cyclists.

If accepted the speed limit on Lakeshore Boulevard might be reduced to 40 km/h.  On most residential streets traffic would be reduced to about 30 km/h. 

McKeown made the proposals upon the release of a $45,000 report, Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto, which cited evidence that pedestrians are far less likely to be killed for every 10 km/h reduction below 60 km/h.

The controversial proposal is one of a number of recommendations on how to improve walking and cycling in the city.

"By improving safety for pedestrian and cyclists in Toronto the direct costs associated with vehicle collisions with pedestrians and cyclists could be reduced by over $62 million," the board wrote in a statement on its website.

McKeown cites evidence that suggests pedestrians and cyclists are less likely to be hit by cars for every 10 km/h the limit is lowered.

But on the streets there's no consensus.

"Going through traffic light, red light, that's what causes accidents.  I've seen it.  I'm here all day on the road. I see it in other drivers, it has nothing to do with speeding," said taxi driver Zach Ali.

"I believe it would be safer for pedestrians if people adhered to it [slower speed limits].  But you can't legislate good sense," said pedestrian Terri Fletcher.

Toronto city council will discuss the report next month.