What can be done to reduce vehicle speed and increase pedestrian safety and comfort on the Toynbee Trail road-share stretch between Livingston and Dearham Wood?

The south portion of horseshoe-shaped Toynbee Trail in Guildwood Village between Livingston Road and Dearham Wood continues to experience excessive speeding to the detriment of pedestrians and cyclists.

Toynbee Trail stretch from Livingston Road to Dearham Wood has been highlighted in yellow.

The current speed limit is 40 km/h but cars and delivery trucks often exceed those limits. There are no sidewalks, no bike lanes and no traffic calming measures in place. Pedestrians and cyclists, including families, children walking/biking to and from school/park as well as seniors, must share the pavement with cars and the increasing amount of delivery trucks.

It may seem obvious to simply install sidewalks but some Guildwood Village community-specific concerns against sidewalks include:

  • Loss of unique streetscape character. This part of Guildwood Village has rolled curbs which adds to the genuinely unique mid-century modern character of Guildwood Village. Rolled curbs were part of the original Garden Community design concept and meant to be used throughout Guildwood Village instead of the traditional Barrier Curbs. As mentioned in the Guildwood Village Community Association’s video “A Retrospective Look Over Time” this idea was later abandoned but rolled curbs remain along this stretch of Toynbee Trail along with a few side streets.
  • Loss of landscaped front yards. Most front yards – including the municipal right-of-way – have been carefully landscaped and neatly maintained by residents for more than 60 years since Guildwood Village was developed in 1958.
  • Significant loss of mature trees. Guildwood Village was, as its name implies, built in the woods. The catastrophic loss of ash trees to the emerald ash borer and ice storm has greatly diminished Guildwood Village’s tree population. Saving remaining trees and planting new trees has become priority for residents.

Other more general concerns include:

  • Sidewalks will increase street parking as cars that used to be parked on the lower part of driveways would now be blocking the sidewalk and be forced to park on the street instead.
  • Construction costs. It will be extremely expensive to construct a sidewalk along this 915 metre stretch. In addition to mature trees, Fire Hydrants and, now, Toronto Hydro’s concrete transformers vaults and fibreglass splice boxes for buried hydro lines occupy the space on one side of the street while street lighting occupy the opposite side.
  • Sidewalks may actually increase speeding. Without pedestrians on the road, drivers have better opportunity to speed up.
  • There’s no real issue. It’s been like this for more than 60 years, pedestrians should just get out of the way like they always have.

Editor’s Note: Things are not the same today as they were 60 years ago. The driving population has substantially increased; it’s more common now for both parents to drive to work, there are more basement renters, driving-aged kids live at home and have their own cars often doubling or tripling the number of cars per household.

There may be a lack of traffic education compared to decades ago. There’s distracted driving, cell phones weren’t around 60 years ago. There are courier deliveries (trucks and cars) that just didn’t exist back then; grocery deliveries, dinner deliveries, online shopping deliveries.

And then, on top of all of this, there’s a growing desire to make suburban communities more walkable and bike friendly.

Regardless of what one may think of those concerns, even if there was broad community support for sidewalks on this part of Toynbee (which doesn’t seem to be the case), a sidewalk project would be years and years away.

So, what can be done on a more immediate basis that is effective, inexpensive and doesn’t encroach on anyone’s front yard?

Here are two ideas that could easily be implemented together:

  1. Reduce Speed Limit to 30 km/h or less. 40 km/h is much too fast for this stretch especially around the bends where visibility is limited. For example, the total stopping distance at 40 km/h is about 45 metres according to the Ottawa Safety Council leaving little to no time and space for drivers to react to “suddenly emerging” pedestrians and cyclists. Consequently – as it is currently and has been for 60 years – it is pedestrians who must evade cars, not the other way around. The appropriate vehicle speed for this Toynbee stretch for the safety and comfort of pedestrians is more likely 20 to 25 km/h with slowing down to 7 to 10 km/h when passing pedestrians in any direction.
  2. Convert all intersections to 3-Way Stops. Intersections are currently 1-Way Stops when entering Toynbee Trail. Toynbee itself is a through-street all the way through the horseshoe shape from Livingston Rd (south of St Ursula Catholic School) to Livingston Rd (north of Guildwood Junior Public School). See graphics below.
    • 3-Way Stops would
      • force vehicles to slow and stop along Toynbee Trail
      • reduce the opportunities for vehicles to speed in the first place by shortening the distance between each stop sign.

The total cost for these would be 10 additional stop signs and maybe 5 speed limit signs.

Additional ideas could be physical Pinch Points or Islands/peninsulas, see City of Toronto Traffic Calming Guide (PDF) and a Speed Camera Post (photo).

Is it reasonable to simply ask pedestrians (families, kids, seniors) to just get out of the way when a car comes? Or should families, friends, groups of students be able to walk along Toynbee Trail without fear of getting run over and without having to jump up on people’s front yards to make room for cars?

30 km/h & 3-Way Stops

Quick & Inexpensive: Reduce Speed Limit + Install Stop Signs
Toynbee & Chancery Intersection ↑
Toynbee & Somedale Intersection ↑
Toynbee & Regency Intersection ↑
Toynbee & Navarre Intersection ↑
Toynbee & Dearham Wood Intersection ↑

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