Traffic, Noise, Pollution

Countries such as Switzerland and Finland have traffic fines proportional to income. This ensures that high-income individuals who may be unaffected by fixed fines do not take a calculated risk to break traffic laws henceforth such measures increase road safety. Enacting such a measure would require modifying HTA in the Ontario Legislature, which I could not do as a Toronto Councillor, but parking fines fall under the City's jurisdiction. Collecting parking fines proportional to the value of the vehicle could result in additional revenue.

Fine Fairness & feasability

Increased income from such fines can and should be used to subsidize free parking or reduced rates for electric vehicles, which are less polluting in terms of air and noise. I have also advocated access fees for downtown access (with exceptions for residents) since 2018, but have stopped upon realizing that congestion fees or highway tolls would likely be opposed by the current provincial government, much like they were opposed by the previous government.

citizen power

Going back to 2011, CBC wrote that some drivers are able to seemingly avoid parking fines while citizens with proper permits get tickets and as anyone who ever had to dispute a wrongfully issued ticket can confirm, disputing tickets is so time consuming, possibly by design, that for busy Torontonians it is often easier to just pay it. Additionally, for many of our neighbours who complain about by-law infractions, enforcement is rare and ineffective.

This is obviously not a problem that only Toronto is experiencing, but other cities have dealt with it in a novel way. Most notably, NYC has empowered citizens to issue a ticket to idling commercial vehicles using a City-issued app and on a successful prosecution, the issuer gets a percentage of the fine. If we think about it, this makes a lot of sense. Enforcing an idling bylaw is costly and low on the city's list of priorities, but it is high for downtown dwellers; retired people in particular may find the noise and pollution created by such vehicles, combined with the cities lack of response particularly frustrating. Allowing citizens to issue such tickets improves everyone's wellbeing!

In Canada, we already have a similar "vigilante-like" provision in the criminal code, more specifically section 504 (incidentally, also the number of a very popular streetcar line on King St in our Ward 10): private prosecutions, which allows citizens or corporations to commence criminal proceedings against another entity, when police and/or the Crown fail to do so (and as shown in the Acumen video, the Crown retains the power to intervene). Given that such a prosecution is more dangerous for indictable offenses, it makes a lot of sense to offer the power to report by-law infractions to citizens alike, providing an additional option for cases where enforcement is lacking !

More info

I have made a number of posts on this matter which I will summarize shortly into a policy position:

  1. positive feedback loop bro fb

  2. high speed rail fb

  3. cyclists in high park letter fb

  4. automated bollards (twt)

  5. lack of enforcement (twt1, ig1)

Consistent with my belief that expanding cycling and public transportation infrastructure is the best way to get Toronto moving and alleviate climate change effects, I often (re)-tweet ideas for improving traffic from accounts such as Taras Grascoe, Adam Bronkhorst, Brent Toderian, Cycling Professor, David Zipper, RM Transit, Stephen Wickens, Matt Eliott, Cycle Toronto.