Written By: Patrick Brown and Ruth Aruliah, Summer Student
To no surprise, there is a significant number of cyclists that do not feel safe travelling in Toronto. This belief is shared by Henry Gold, a biking enthusiast, who claims that “Toronto is the most perilous city in the world to be a cyclist.” In 2021, approximately 58 people died on Toronto’s streets and 183 more were seriously injured. In total, the Canadian Automobile Association and Statistics Canada suggest that around 7500 cyclists are seriously injured every year and that most of these occur during rush hour. With all these discouraging points, there is still an array of encouraging factors that contribute to why people continue to cycle such as to improve fitness, reduce air pollution, and engage in a fun activities. According to the City of Toronto Cycling Study (2019), “the percentage of reported cyclists in the City of Toronto continues to increase over the past 20 years, with seven in ten Toronto residents (70%) who reported cycling compared to 54% in 2009 and 48% in 1999.” With this steady increase of the use of bicycles, it is important to create a cycle-friendly environment.
The City of Toronto created a Vision Zero Safety Plan focused on reducing traffic-related fatalities and serious injuries on Toronto’s streets. “The Plan was a bold pledge to improve safety across the city using a data-driven and targeted approach, focusing on the locations where improvements are needed. The Plan addresses safety for the most vulnerable users of our transportation system – pedestrians, school children, older adults, and cyclists.” However, according to Toronto Community Bikeways Coalition, this goal of zero deaths or severe injuries has not been attained as of 2021.
Common Causes of Cycling Collisions:
In order to ensure safety when cycling in Toronto, it is important to consider the common causes of cycling accidents. Taken from our “It’s a Bicycle Crash, Not an Accident” A McLeish Orlando Case Study” blog, cyclist collisions, injuries, and fatalities can occur as a result of:
- Driver inattention
- Distracted driving
- Excessive speed
- Illegal and unsafe Turns
- Failure to provide one meter of space when passing
- Lack of safe infrastructure for cyclists, including bike lanes
- Disrepair of roads and Debris
- Lack of care, consideration, and respect for cyclists
To further explain the aforementioned factors, doorings occur when a person opens their car door into an approaching cyclist. Another incident could occur when a motorist makes a left turn t-boning a cyclist (the left hook). It can be assumed that most of these incidents are caused by the negligence of the motorist. All of which could be avoided if people took better precautions when driving on the streets of Toronto.
Another resolution the City of Toronto has pursued to create a safer Toronto “involves building and maintaining infrastructure such as bike lanes and multi-use trails, installing bike parking facilities, distributing bike network maps, and carrying out other campaigns and projects to promote cycling confidence and safe road use.”
Though the above-noted initiatives strive to create room for cyclists on the busy streets of Toronto there are additional incidents that simply cannot be solved without drivers taking better precautions. For example, recently there was an incident where a cyclist was travelling on a designated bikeway and endured “life-altering injuries” as a result of a driver losing control of their vehicle.
Another factor in relation to current collision trends involves one-third of bicycle crashes in Toronto being connected to streetcar tracks. For example, a cyclist accusing the TTC of negligence in failing to repair a significant difference between a guardrail and one of the tracks. Another incident involved a personal trainer getting thrown off her bike for more than two car lengths after hitting an indentation in the road which resulted in a broken shoulder and torn rotator cuff. Though it might be considered an uphill battle, it is important that the city of Toronto recognizes the importance of ensuring bike safety on its roads.
A Proactive Method to Avoid Bike Accidents:
A proactive method to help stay safe while cycling involves being familiar with designated cycling routes. This can be easily accessible online at Cycling Network Map. This map shows all cycling routes in Toronto categorized by type. In addition, the 2022 Toronto Cycling Map shows routes that are regularly maintained during the winter.
Regardless even some of the most experienced cyclists can fall susceptible to bicycle injuries due to the negligence of motorized vehicle drivers. If you ever find yourself in a situation that could have been avoided but for the other person’s actions resulted in you or a loved one getting harmed, it is important you reach out to our team of personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. There are limitations set out in Ontario legislation that could prohibit your claim from taking place. We are here to advocate for you and ensure that you get the best outcome for your claim. Contact our office for a free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers to discuss what you can do next.