Parkside Drive redesign can’t come soon enough, say residents, as speed camera tickets continue to be highest in Toronto

While the City of Toronto takes steps to eventually make High Park car-free, a major thoroughfare just east of there continues to be a serious, ongoing concern and needs to be redesigned as soon as possible, says one local safe streets group.

For the 13th time since an Automated Speed Enforcement (ASE) camera was installed on Parkside Drive 15 months ago following a double fatal collision, the busy arterial road tops the list of the most tickets issued to speeding drivers.

According to the latest data, the device just south of Algonquin Avenue issued 2,068 tickets in June. That month, the top speed recorded at that location was 126 km/h, which is triple the posted speed limit of 40 km/h.

To date, the City of Toronto has collected more than $3 million in fines from the ASE camera on Parkside Drive as on average speeding drivers receive a ticket for just over $100.

Faraz Gholizadeh, the co-chair of Safe Parkside, said while reducing and eventually eliminating vehicular traffic and implementing other related safety measures for vulnerable road users in High Park is a good thing, not enough is being done fast enough to make his street safer.

“It’s coming up on two years since (Fatima and Valdemar Avila were killed on Parkside) and a year and a half since City Council approved the Parkside Drive Study, but here we are still waiting for changes to happen,” the father of two young children told CP24.com.

“We’re patient people. We understand that these things take time, but let’s just get it done.”

Gholizadeh, who has lived on Parkside for 10 years, said he and others in the neighbourhood are worried that someone else will be seriously injured or even killed in the meantime.

“(The length of time this is taking) sends mixed messages. Vision Zero is supposed to prioritize human life (on our streets), but he we are still waiting for that to happen. It’s frustrating,” he said.

Parkside Drive

Coun. Gord Perks said completely redesigning a major thoroughfare like Parkside Drive is a lengthy and timely process, but assured that this “complex” project is underway and on schedule.

The Parkdale-High Park rep said that at this point they’re at the design and consultation phase of its  “Complete Streets” makeover. Next will come the tendering and budget process, but it could take a year or two before shovels are in the ground, he said.

In a statement provided to CP24.com, the City of Toronto said it has made several improvements to Parkside Drive to “manage vehicle speed and improve pedestrian mobility,” as well as initiated a study of the corridor.

“The goal of the Parkside Drive Study is to develop a future vision of the corridor that better serves all road users while supporting safe mobility for the local community,” spokesperson Jaclyn Carlisle wrote in an email.

Carlisle went on to say that this study is ongoing and that the next phase of work will “determine feasible road reconfiguration scenarios and identify interim interventions that can be delivered in advance of road reconstruction.”

“This phase will also consider changes that support the implementation of the High Park Movement Strategy, like intersection improvements and actions that support multi-modal movement to and from High Park,” she said, noting public consultation will be completed in fall 2023.

“Corridor concept plans for both the long-term vision and interim changes will be presented to road users, local residents and stakeholders.” 

Perks also noted that for now a number of smaller steps have been taken to make Parkside safer, like installing traffic lights, reducing the speed limit, and making parking 24 hours on the east side of the street.

He said that these measures are working as the volume of traffic on Parkside Drive is down by 27 per cent. The Ward 4 councillor also said that speeds recorded southbound have decreased by 17 per cent, while those northbound are down by 12 per cent.

“We have seen a huge decrease in the number of speeding vehicles on Parkside and a quarter of the cars just aren’t taking the road anymore,” said Perks.

“We’ve done a lot and it’s already showing incredible results.”

Gholizadeh, however, isn’t convinced that these interim measures as well as the installation of an ASE camera have been “overly effective.”

“It’s like a little band-aid, but we need stitches for this to be fixed,” he said, adding at the end of the day the reason why people speed on Parkside Drive is its design.

“Even if less drivers are being noted on Parkside, it’s a road that is conducive to driving fast.”

In an Aug. 17 news release, Safe Parkside said a lone speed camera is not an “effective safety tool” as motorists are only slowing down in its immediate vicinity.

In terms of adding more ASE cameras on Parkside, the city said it currently allocates three devices per ward, but noted that they are mobile and are intended to be rotated among Community Safety Zones.

These cameras are placed in areas of concern and aim “provide a wider-ranging deterrent effect,” said the city.

“It is important to note that ASE is designed to work in tandem with other methods and strategies, including engineering measures and education initiatives,” Carlisle said.

Gholizadeh went on to note that it’s imperative that Parkside be completely overhauled, especially with the city encouraging more and more pedestrians and cyclists to use High Park as the first phase of the park’s Movement Strategy is implemented.

“The City of Toronto is hoping to draw more vulnerable road users to the park, but you need to make it safe for people,” he said.


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