The Burlington Road Safety Committee: A 20-Year History

Beginnings

In the early 1990s, the Ontario Ministry of Health formulated a strategy to reduce the incidence of trauma and deaths resulting from injuries, both intentional and unintentional. One major type of unintentional injury is motor vehicle crashes. Motor vehicle collisions are responsible for a significant cost to the health care system and for the loss of potential years of life. Injuries are a significant health problem invarious age groups especially in children and young people. Injury is the leading cause of death for the age group 1 to 44 years of age.

The stimulus for the formation of the Burlington Road Safety Committee came from Halton Regional Health Department, Injury Prevention Program and community mobilization began in 1993. A public forum was held in Burlington May 5, 1994. The epidemiologist at the Health Department prepared detailed reports of the injuries and deaths to Halton residents, with a breakdown of data for each community, including Burlington. The data included: ages and gender of individuals involved, the mode of injury, the time of day, the month of the year, the weather conditions, the driver action etc. Using this information it was possible to select target groups for community programming. The intent of the community forum was to establish the level of interest for the formation of an action based community committee.

Some of the groups represented at this forum included: Joseph Brant Hospital, Young Drivers of Canada, The Insurance Bureau of Burlington, CAA, Burlington Fire Department, Halton Regional Police Service, Halton Regional Health Department, community members, seniors groups, City of Burlington Mayor and Councilors, MADD Halton , OPP, Ontario Ministry of Transportation, Trauma Prevention Council of Central West Ontario, St. John Ambulance, the Red Cross, the Halton District School Board, the Halton Catholic School Board, the City of Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee, the Optimist Club of Burlington, and Halton EMS.

Reduction of motor vehicle collisions requires the involvement of technology, legislation/regulation, engineering measures, enforcement, education, and environmental change. There are specific strategies which apply to the different ‘at risk’ groups, including motor vehicle drivers and occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.

Within the Burlington community, traffic issues have for many years been a dominant concern of residents. Members of our committee have consulted with the community around events such as the “heroes” Program, safety issues facing neighbourhood traffic committees, and issues regarding traffic calming. Community contacts have often come through our web site:

www.burlingtonroadsafety.ca

We have collaborated with other city committees including the Cycling Advisory Committee, the Seniors’ Advisory Committee and the Accessibility Advisory Committee to promote safety on the streets of Burlington.

We have been successful in obtaining project funding from the Ontario Ministry of Transportation for our community programs and many of our educational materials have been provided through their community outreach.

Advocacy

The Burlington Road Safety Committee members have appeared before Committee and Council in support of strategies developed by Transportation Services. Some of these strategies include: traffic calming, community safety zone implementation, community consultation on traffic services, consistent speed limits, bicycles on downtown sidewalks, intersection pedestrian signals, fluorescent school crossing sign implementation, the problems with P-gates on the multiuse pathway, traffic calming initiatives, automated intersection enforcement technology, the review of right turn channelization, pedestrian and cyclist safety at the on ramps to the QEW, the on-road bike lanes on Lakeshore Road, and car seat belt safety.

Members of our committee have been part of other City of Burlington Transportation Services initiatives such as the Annual Collision Review Road Tour, review of the Annual Collision Report, the Road Safety Strategic Plan Review, the Halton Transportation Master Plan, the city’s Road Safety Strategic Plan Working Group and the Cycling Master Plan development.

Members of our committee have sent letters to the Ministry of Transportation, to our federal MP, to the Road Safety and Motor Vehicle Regulation Directorate on a variety of issues including the on-ramps to the QEW, pedestrian and cyclist safety at the lift bridge, the integration of low speed vehicles into traffic flow, and the use of side guards on trucks for cyclist protection.

A significant strength of our committee is the sharing of information amongst our members in an open environment. We are grateful for the contributions of our professional partners which include the City of Burlington's Transportation Services Department, the Halton Region Police Service, the Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee, and the MTO. Our success with the community events has depended on the input and participation of the members who represent these organizations. We have been privileged to work with a significant number of dedicated individuals.

Community Education

In the early days, the committee developed a logo, letterhead and produced an annual report.

The Burlington Road Safety Committee along with the Insurance Brokers of Burlington purchased the first radar message board for the community. Initially there was a great deal of interest in this device which resulted in significant media coverage. A photo of our first radar message board and three committee members appeared on the cover of “Ontario Traffic”, along with an article “Radar Board as an Educational Tool”. We contributed to the purchase of a new radar board in 2010, along with Halton Regional Police Service.

Our committee assisted with the funding of the gateway entry signs which listed the stats for Burlington (deaths and injuries).These signs have been replaced by the 6 interchangeable safety message boards across Burlington. We had booths at various events across Burlington, e.g. the First of July celebrations at Spencer Smith Park where we had a quiz and focused on cycling safety as well as car seat safety. We also appeared in the Santa Claus Parade with the radar board and signs regarding our committee.

Members of our committee have participated in car seat safety clinics and we have distributed literature regarding car seat safety at various community events. We have promoted programs like the “Think of Me” which is distributed through RIDE.

For teenagers we have held a number of community programs. We have raised funds to bring the Smartrisk program “Heroes” to Burlington on two occasions and were active in its delivery. For 6 years we held a driving rodeo for older high school students and the community at the Burlington Mall parking lot in cooperation with Young Drivers of Canada. This program was to promote life-long skill building in the safe operation of a motor vehicle. We participated with Central West Trauma Prevention from the Hamilton General Hospital in bringing the program CHAT to Burlington (Community and Hospital against Trauma). This experiential program consisted of an assembly held at a high school, followed by 25 chosen students who spent a day at Joseph Brant Memorial Hospital. The teenagers witnessed a motor vehicle crash simulation and then visited the emergency department and the rehabilitation unit where they listened to the personal stories from injury survivors. The program was offered three times a year for a number of years.

For adults in the community we have established a web site and have responded to inquiries received through this medium. The site lists other links so community members can search for additional safety related information. We have spoken at community and professional seminars on various topics including community mobilization, the radar board as a community educational tool, the benefits of fluorescent school crossing signs and seniors’ issues.

Our committee has participated in a seniors driving forum organized by the CAA and we have held our own seniors safety seminar in 2011.

We developed a Cyclist/Pedestrian flyer to deal with conflicts between these two groups sharing a mutual pathway in areas such as the waterfront trail and the hydro pathway and another flyer dealing with ‘share the road’ for cyclists and motorists.

Over the years our committee and /or members have received coverage in the local newspapers regarding the radar message board, aggressive driving, the road watch program, traffic calming and safe return to school.

With Halton Regional Police Service we have assisted with their program for children and bicycle safety, ‘Lids for Kids”.

With technical help we produced a YouTube video, ‘No Helmet, No Ride’ on the theme of bicycle helmets and their use by all family members.

In December 2006 the Burlington Road Safety Committee re-examined its’ mission statement, vision, goals and objectives.

Mission Statement

The Burlington Road Safety Committee will join with other community members and agencies to promote road safety throughout the City of Burlington.

Vision

To reduce the per capita number of personal injuries and deaths in the City of Burlington.

Goals

Objectives

Thanks

Special acknowledgement needs to be given to the dedicated community volunteers who have given countless hours of time to the promotion of road safety in Burlington. This list includes: John Auld, Gord Bower, Doug Brown, Jon Clarke, Audrey Creasey, Terry Delmore, Bob Edgar, David Oliver and Ida Parsons.

Prepared By

Ida Parsons, Chair of the Burlington Road Safety Committee from 1993 to 2013.

March 6, 2013