The fact that both Main and King had higher collision totals in 2014 than in previous years strongly suggests that the bump had more to do with our long, hard winter than with the bus lane.
By Ryan McGreal
Published January 19, 2015
On January 8, I posted an article on the motion by Ward 5 Councillor Chad Collins to remove the transit-only lane on King Street between Mary and Dundurn. One of the arguments Collins made in support of his motion was a claim that "the number of vehicular accidents has significantly increased along the Bus Lane Pilot route".
Looking at the data provided by the City in Appendix F of the bus lane report, it was not at all clear that the number of collisions has gone up as a result of the bus lane.
The total number of collisions at major intersections between Victoria and Dundurn in 2014 was higher than the average over the past seven years, but was the same as the total from 2011 and only slightly higher than the total from 2012. It was certainly not an outlier.
It occurred to me that one way to put the 2014 collision totals in more context would be to compare the totals not only with previous years on the same street, but also with the same seven-year stretch on a different street. So I contacted the City to ask if they could provide comparative totals on another downtown street.
At first, staff were reluctant to provide the data until after this Wednesday's Council meeting, where the fate of the bus lane will probably be decided one way or another. I had a sense that staff were afraid Council would accuse them of pushing an agenda on the bus lane.
Given the way certain councillors treated Transit Director David Dixon at last Wednesday's General Issues Committee meeting, I'm not surprised they're gun-shy.
When Councillors bully City staff - for example, by accusing them of not being objective - they help to perpetuate a culture of fear where people are encouraged to keep their heads down and their mouths shut. It becomes a lot harder to make good decisions when the people who have the expertise to provide good data are cowed and intimidated into silence.
Fortunately, staff agreed that providing more data allows for both Council and the public to make more informed decisions on this important policy issue. They provided a summary data set with collision totals along King between Victoria and Dundurn, and along Main between Victoria and Dundurn, for the seven years between 2008 and 2014.
Note that this data set includes all collisions along the corridor, not just collisions at selected intersections, so the totals are higher than they were in Appendix F of the bus lane staff report.
When you look at the total number of collisions between Victoria and Dundurn, both King and Main are higher in 2014 than in any of the previous years.
Since Main is one-way eastbound and King is one-way westbound, it is unlikely that traffic on Main would be impacted by the bus lane on King - it's not as if drivers on King can divert to Main to continue their trip.
As we all remember, the winter of 2014 was exceptionally long, cold, snowy and icy. The fact that both Main and King had higher collision totals in 2014 than in previous years strongly suggests that the bump had more to do with the winter than with the bus lane.
Winter 2014 (RTH file photo)
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