RTI: Advocating for Motorcyclists in Toronto

Jun 28, 2018

This is a long post, but it’s worth your time to read if you’re a motorcyclist in Toronto:

Last night, a motion for comprehensive motorcycle policy changes was adopted by Toronto City Council… and it was drafted by RTI!

As many of you know, RTI has been actively engaged in lobbying efforts with the City of Toronto for the past fews years. It’s been a long haul, but we’ve had some notable successes: last year we were instrumental in getting motorcycles included in the City’s Vision Zero plan as a “Vulnerable Road Using Group”, and we were also successful in getting the city to adopt a motorcycle focused road sign pilot project.

The motion adopted last night contains the most comprehensive set of policy proposals affecting motorcyclists ever adopted by any Canadian municipality.

Here are the highlights:

1. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, in consultation with the Toronto Parking Authority, to report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on:
a. expanding the number of dedicated motorcycle parking zones;
b. the enforcement of motorcycle only parking within those parking zones; and
c. the revenue implications from the ticketing of prohibited vehicles within those zones.

2. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, to report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on expanding the Designated Class of Vehicles permitted to use the reserved lanes on the following streets to include motorcycles:
a. Bay Street, from Front Street West to Bloor Street East; and
b. Don Valley Parkway, from Lawrence Avenue East to north of York Mills Road.

3. City Council request the General Manager, Transportation Services, in consultation with Toronto Public Health, to consider and report to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on a pilot project along the Richmond Street and Adelaide Street corridors which would allow motorcycles to filter between stopped vehicles, up to the stop line at controlled intersections where a stop signal is active, and only along lane boundaries that are not adjacent to any curb or pedestrian walkway, with implications for minimizing the risk of rear or front end collisions, and the overall flow of traffic.

We know that item 3 in particular will generate mixed opinions, but here’s why we’re behind it:

– Data suggests that under the correct circumstances, and by reducing the risk of front or rear facing collisions, filtering can “markedly” reduce the risk of death or serious injuries to motorcyclists
– Those circumstances are twofold: 1) motorcyclists must perform the activity only under the correct conditions, 2) there must be a broad awareness on the part of other drivers of the activity
– The conditions we are proposing involve filtering only up to an active stop light, only along lane boundaries that are not adjacent to any curb, and with other vehicles at or near a standstill
– The pilot area we are proposing intersects the area of the city with the highest percentage of multi vehicle collisions (Adelaide & Richmond Streets)
– If pursued, we will work with the city on an advanced signage/messaging campaign along the proposed corridors to alert drivers of the upcoming change. Ideally, this messaging campaign will have a 6-8 month lead in time prior to the launch of the pilot
– RTI will not support the initiative unless an active messaging campaign is deployed well in advance, additionally, we will work with media partners to get the message out to riders about the right & wrong way to perform the activity if and when the pilot is approved

We realize that opinions on lane filtering are mixed in the riding community, but we also believe in pursuing evidence based initiatives that have the potential to make roads safer for riders, encourage motorcycle use, and help to ease congestion on our roads. Lane filtering, contentious as it may be, is one of those examples.

We also produced a short video simulation demonstrating how effective motorcycles can be in mitigating traffic delay times. The video was instrumental in helping us get the support we needed to push the motion through.

All in all, we could be seeing some positive changes for riders over the next couple of years!