Lower Speed Limits, Says Chief Medical Officer

April 25, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
A report by Toronto's chief medical officer David McKeown says speed limits should be lowered in the city to increase pedestrian and cyclist safety. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Toronto’s chief medical officer David McKeown is recommending the city drop speed limits to improve pedestrian and cyclist safety.

“Higher vehicle speed increases the risk of a collision as well as the severity of the resulting injuries for cyclists and pedestrians,” McKeown said in a report submitted to the Board of Health.

He said the city should reduce speed limits to 30 km/hr for residential streets and to 40km/hr for other streets.

“Pedestrians have an estimated 85 percent chance of dying when hit by a car travelling at 50 km/hr but fatality rates decrease to less than 5 percent when the car travels at 30 km/hr,” McKeown said.

The recommendations are made as part of a report titled “Road to Health: Improving Walking and Cycling in Toronto,” which probes the health impacts of using walking and cycling for transportation.

The current speed limits in Toronto typically range from 40 to 60 km/hr for minor roads and 50 to 60 km/hr for major roads.

McKeown’s report cites cases around the world where introducing lower speed limits resulted in reduced casualties.

“After 30 km/h zones were introduced in London, these zones experienced a 42 percent reduction in fatalities,” the report says.

Another case mentioned in the report is the Town of Baden in Austria, where restricting the speed to 30 km/hr for three quarters of the roads in the town, along with other measures, reduced casualties by 60 percent.

McKeown’s recommendations will be reviewed by the Board of Health on April 30.

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