Lives lost to road violence honoured Sunday at annual memorial walk in Scarborough

A candlelit procession made its way along Danforth Avenue Sunday afternoon in honour of those who lost their lives to road violence in Toronto.

The memorial walk, held annually on World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims, got underway at 4:45 p.m. 

The two-kilometre-long walk concluded at 6:30 p.m. at the intersection of Danforth Avenue and Birchmount Road, which is where 17-year-old Nadia Mozumder was fatally struck by a driver on October 19, 2021.

“We will honour Nadia’s memory and show that she, like every victim of road violence, is not forgotten,” event organizer Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS), a support and advocacy group working to end traffic violence in Toronto, said in a release.

During the walk, organizers also pointed out other locations where road violence destroyed people’s lives and discussed how simple infrastructure upgrades could have prevented it.

“By sharing our painful stories we can put a face to the crisis of road violence in Toronto, and we demand our leaders prioritize safety over speed and driving convenience. … Road safety should never be a partisan issue, and this law would both protect people outside of cars, and hold reckless drivers accountable for the devastation they cause,” they said.

Further, the annual event aims to highlight the “deadly design of Toronto’s streets, while showing bereaved families and friends, and crash survivors, that their loved ones and trauma are not forgotten,” said FFSS, which is advocating for the passage of the Moving Ontarians Safely Act.

The memorial walk was also an opportunity for people to advocate for improvements to the city’s Vision Zero Road Safety Plan, which has the goal of reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets.

“This event is for anyone that has experienced senseless loss from road violence, anyone who has been injured by a driver, and anyone who wants to send a message to our leaders that they must act boldly and swiftly to realize Vision Zero,” the group said.

“Together, we advocate for lifesaving Vision Zero changes to stop any other Torontonians from experiencing the preventable anguish that we have endured.”

This year, organizers chose to highlight Danforth Avenue as it is “emblematic of so many arterial roads in Toronto’s suburbs that are responsible for a disproportionate number of injuries and fatalities.”

“These are roads that, despite their known danger, our city leaders have failed to redesign with proven safety improvements,” they said, noting the walk also aims to highlight the discrepancy in Vision Zero implementation on Danforth Avenue, east and west of Victoria Park.

On the west side, the road has been transformed into a complete street that prioritizes the safety of people outside of cars, FFSS noted, while to the east of Victoria Park nothing has been done to improve safety, they said.

A virtual candle-lighting ceremony in honour of World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims has also been organized for Monday at 8 p.m. Pre-registration is required.

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