TORONTO, ON--The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) says the city of Toronto should conduct a comprehensive goods movement study and not limit itself to looking at restricting trucks from school zones or other parts of the city.
“If we truly are interested in making things better, we need to look at things more broadly and more comprehensively,” says the association’s president, David Bradley.
An appeal from City Councillor Gary Crawford for City staff to study banning trucks in school zones in the wake of a recent tragedy, where a 14-year old girl died after being struck by a disposal truck on the first day back to school, has spawned calls for broader restrictions on truck traffic throughout the city.
Bradley says blanket solutions like bans on all trucks are likely impractical. “The city is dependent upon trucks for providing the essentials of life every day,” he said. “They are where they are, when they are, because the customers they are serving require them to be. We need to examine ways for all types of vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians to better co-exist.
“If you want to restrict trucks from certain routes at certain times of the day, then it is imperative that the people who own the goods the truckers are hauling be brought into the frame,” he said. “Trucks can operate at any time of the day, but if you want to move them to off-peak times then there has to be someone there to ship or receive the goods, which is out of the trucking industry’s control.”
He said that when trucks do try to operate in the off-peak periods – in the middle of the night, for example – residents often complain about the noise. He said it might be an interesting experiment for the city to examine restricting local garbage pick-up to certain times of the day. “That would clearly fall within the city’s authority and we would be able to see how that goes.”
Another problem is the system of truck bans that are already in place on many city streets. “Sometimes it makes sense to introduce such restrictions in order to keep trucks out of residential areas,” says Bradley. “But too often the motivating factor is NIMBYism and before you know it the trucks can’t go anywhere.”
Regardless, whether it’s to deal more effectively with congestion or gridlock, or safely sharing the road with other vehicles or pedestrians, what Toronto needs is a comprehensive goods movement program, according to OTA. “City planners concentrate on the movement of people, but goods movement always seems to be forgotten,” says Bradley. “A comprehensive study of goods movement into, out of and within the City of Toronto has long been needed.”
In the meantime, Bradley reminds all truckers to be extra careful and vigilant on city streets and all motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians to be cautious when sharing the roads with trucks. “We all need to co-exist and be respectful of each other,” he says. “Common sense and going back to the basics of safety are probably our best hope for avoiding tragedies.”
“Whatever the city decides to look at, we will be happy to provide input,” he said.