Bad habits die hard. The City of Toronto and Toronto Police Service are relaunching a zero-tolerance campaign for those violating traffic and parking laws in the downtown core to reduce traffic congestion on rush-hour routes, starting October 5.
Mayor John Tory announced that citizens are being given a two-week warning so that they are prepared for the enforcement effort.
The policy was first implemented January of this year and had helped in reducing congestion, said the mayor.
“We implemented a zero-tolerance policy January 1 and heard from people across the city that it had made a positive, measurable difference in their commute times. And while this zero-tolerance policy continues to be enforced… I have noticed that bad habits start to seep back into the system…(and) people selfishly block lanes during rush hour for their own purpose,” said Tory.
TheYou Know You Shouldn’t campaign launched at the beginning of the year, included videos reminding drivers of violating traffic rules such as parking in rush hour routes and making prohibited turns that cause traffic gridlock. The campaign led to a great reduction in the number of delivery trucks blocking rush-hour routes.
To get people back on track and back to ‘good’ behaviour is a reason the traffic blitz is being reintroduced, he explained.
Chief Mark Saunders said the enforcement will be cover the areas of Bloor Street to the north, Dufferin on the west, the Don Valley Parkway to the east and Lakeshore on the south. “We will also have a lot more officers patrolling these areas during rush hour,” said the Chief.
“We will be aggressively ticketing and towing vehicles blocking major roadways,” warned the mayor, who added that he wished there was no need for such action if people had changed their behaviour accordingly the first time around.
Chief Mark Saunders also reminded the public that blocking roadways has an effect on public safety. “Some people think it is not a serious issue, but I have got to tell you it has a cascaded effect… when rush-hour routes are congested, drivers use side streets,” said the Chief, of endangering children walking near their homes and schools.
Saunders said people should remember that rush-hour routes were not only designed for people to get to their destinations in a speedy manner, they also enhanced safety across the city.
The Chief added that, since January this year, 59,689 vehicles had been tagged and 11,816 towed during rush hour this year. A total of 11, 607 habitual offenders, those with three or more parking tickets, were also towed in the same time period. However the Chief said that it was not about the numbers. Rather it was about education and awareness.
“We want people to take this seriously. You cannot park during the rush-hour times. They are designed for a reason,” he said.
The traffic blitz is part of the Mayor’s six-point plan to reduce traffic congestion in the city. The city will also be increasing fees by up to 350 percent for private companies that close roads staring this fall, as well increasing construction work hours on major roads to expedite the process, along with increased fines for parking violations, amongst other things.