Gridlock Easing Through Education

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:05 a.m. December 16, 2014

Prior to last week, a package delivery truck usually parked on King St. W. during rush-hour traffic while the driver made deliveries and pick-ups on neighbouring Bay and York Sts.

A taxi cab merges into a packed lane of traffic as his path is blocked by a delivery truck being unloaded
A delivery truck blocks a curb lane during rush hour and blocks a fire hydrant

Things have, however, changed since Chief Bill Blair announced on December 8 the launch of an educational and enforcement program to reduce traffic gridlock and congestion along rush-hour routes.

Until the end of the year, the Service is focusing on awareness and education to help alter the behaviour of drivers causing congestion and gridlock.

“After the second day of our education and awareness campaign, the driver moved his vehicle to a loading dock,” said Traffic Services Constable Clint Stibbe. “He is not the only one, as a number of other courier drivers are doing the same as well. Couriers are looking at changing their delivery times to midnight or overnight to reduce the impact on rush hour routes and the likelihood of their vehicles being impounded.”

The program, called ‘You know you shouldn’t… So don’t’ addresses five main areas that cause congestion and gridlock: 

- Drivers making prohibited turns at intersections 

- Pedestrians stepping on to roadways in advance of green light or walk signals

- Blocking of the intersection and failing to clear an intersection in the green light

- Blocking of lanes by stopped vehicles

- Failing to clear minor collisions from the road, causing blocked lanes

In the past week, Stibbe said officers have handed out hundreds of information cards to offending drivers.

“We have also enlisted the help of loading-dock attendants who are passing these cards out to incoming drivers with deliveries as well,” he said. “We are getting the message out and seeing changes in the way couriers and businesses are operating in the downtown core.”

You Know You Shouldn't So Don't - Crossing Against a Red Light

Beginning January 5, Toronto Police will begin a zero-tolerance enforcement policy against drivers who cause traffic congestion during rush hour. Their vehicles will be tagged and towed away.

Normally, a parking ticket would be issued to the vehicle owner and not its driver. However, a change in the Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 950 allows charges to be laid against the driver.

“When we tell drivers they could face charges, we get their attention,” said Stibbe. “They now realize they are now responsible as a vehicle doesn’t park itself in rush-hour traffic. They realize they are going to be held accountable for their actions.

“…They are only parking there for their convenience and nobody else’s. It’s something that needs to change in order to make rush-hour routes less congested and as a result make the commute for everybody coming in and out of the downtown core better.”

Chief Blair has also penned a letter to get the word out to large organizations about contributing to gridlock reduction in the downtown core:

The City of Toronto is a large and growing city and ongoing issues with gridlock and long commute times.

The driving, cycling and walking public all contribute to these issues when violations, even minor ones, occur.

Stopping in a rush-hour route to make a delivery, get a coffee or some other purpose, affects traffic greatly. In addition, blocking intersections and crossing streets at the wrong time have a similar effect.

All road users are creatures of habit and often make decisions for their own convenience. This has to change. We are asking for your help.

The Toronto Police Service, in partnership with the City of Toronto, has begun an education campaign focusing on these issues and, as a result, has developed a number of Public Service Announcements (PSAs). These PSAs demonstrate the behaviour that we are hoping to change.

Beginning on January 5, The Toronto Police Service will begin a zero-tolerance enforcement policy for violations which occur in relation to the identified issues.

Enforcement will focus on the tagging and towing of vehicles found to be stopped or parked in rush-hour routes. Traditionally, a parking ticket would be issued to the owner of the vehicle and not its driver. A change in the Toronto Municipal Code Chapter 950 allows charges to be laid against the driver directly.

The Toronto Police Service would encourage you to review your operational policies and daily practices related to making deliveries, pick-ups of goods and/or passengers.

Driving in the city is a co-operative effort by all road-users. By making some small changes, you can make a large impact on the reduction of gridlock and long commute times.

For further information, please contact Superintendent Gord Jones, Traffic Services at 416-808-1900.

William Blair

Chief of Police

You Know You Shouldn't, So Don't - Prohibited Turn
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