78 pedestrian and cyclist deaths in Toronto alone in last two years
TORONTO, September 10, 2015: A coalition of groups, including the 300,000-member United Senior Citizens of Ontario and Kids at Play, is calling on the province’s Attorney General to follow several U.S. jurisdictions by implementing a Vulnerable Road User Law. A press conference is scheduled for 9:30 am, Thursday, September 10, 2015 at the northwest corner of College St. and University Ave. The families of several road fatality victims will be available to the media.
The law would see harsher penalties for motorists who injure or kill a pedestrian or cyclist. The new penalties would include licence suspensions, road safety training requirements, and community service. In addition, motorists would be required to attend court for sentencing to listen to Victim Impact Statements. A ‘vulnerable road user’ is generally defined as a pedestrian, cyclist, road worker, or person using a mobility device.
Erica Stark, a mother of three young boys, was walking on a sidewalk on November 6, 2014 when she was hit and killed by a motorist whose minivan mounted the curb. “Harsher penalties will be a reminder to motorists about the potential consequences of careless conduct”, said her husband David Stark. “The new law will help ensure that fewer people die on Ontario’s roads and fewer families have to endure sorrow and loss from senseless, preventable collisions.”
On Toronto’s roads alone over the last two years 78 cyclists and pedestrians, many of them senior citizens, have been killed. In a recent report, Toronto Public Health found that in two thirds of cases a driving infraction immediately precedes a pedestrian’s death.
“Where drivers’ conduct matters most”, said lawyer Patrick Brown, “is not in the remorse they show for a death or injury but in the care they take when they get behind the wheel of a car.”
Although emergency room visits for motorists have been decreasing in Ontario, the same is not true for cyclists and pedestrians, according to Ontario Public Health.
“When the penalty for killing a pedestrian isn’t a lot more than the fine for a parking violation, we know that there is something seriously wrong with the justice system”, said Albert Koehl, a representative of the coalition.
The coalition includes United Senior Citizens of Ontario, Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, Hoof &Cycle, Toronto Bicycling Network, and Kids at Play.
David Stark, spouse of the late Erica Stark (pedestrian killed)
Alex Tushingham, son of the late Stanley “Bruce” Tushingham (cyclist killed)
Maisie Le Blanc, spouse of the late Edouard Le Blanc (cyclist killed)