Tag Archives: bike lanes

Brain Injury Awareness Month: Introducing Friends and Families for Safe Streets to Those Looking to Make a Difference

By: Patrick Brown and Taraneh Etemadi, Summer Student

Pedestrians and cyclists make up an increasingly large number of the travelling population in the busy city of Toronto.

According to statistics gathered by the Toronto police, the year 2016 reflected the largest number of pedestrian deaths in more than a decade, with 43 pedestrians and 1 cyclist being killed by traffic violence.  Kasia Briegmann-Samson’s husband, Tom Samson, was killed in 2012 while cycling at Davenport Rd. and Landsdowne Ave., she stated, “These are not numbers, these are lives and for each individual killed, there are scores of family members and friends who are also shattered.”

In July 2016, Toronto City council agreed to endorse Toronto’s road-safety strategy with an increased budget of $80.3 million over five years to protect cyclists and pedestrians from traffic violence. Some of the added protective measures included doubling the number of mid-block pedestrian crossings and quadruple the number of new audible crossing signals to 20 intersections per year.

A new advocacy group has been introduced by Kasia Briegmann-Samson, David Stark whose wife, Erika Stark was struck and killed on a sidewalk, and Yu Li, whose friend, Zhiyong Kang was killed by a drunk driver while cycling on Finch Avenue. This group is called Friends and Families for Safe Streets (FFSS). FFSS seeks to eliminate violent driving behaviour through advocating for changes in the law that support safe streets for all road users, including cyclists. FFSS was first launched on October 25, 2016. The organization indicates that Toronto’s renewed road safety plan of 2016 is a step towards reducing serious injuries and deaths on streets; however, it is not enough. FFSS members have challenged the City to reduce speed limits on roads outside of the downtown core, enact increased fines and sentences for violent drivers who kill or injure vulnerable road users, and to avoid placing the blame on victims for wearing dark clothing or crossing in the middle of a street. All drivers should be vigilant and responsible for other road users that share the streets.

Members of the FFSS consist of individuals who have been injured or affected by a family, friend or loved one who has been killed or seriously injured as a result of a violent traffic incident. As a result, FFSS provides a peer support group service for people that are directly affected and help them in the process of coping with such complex situations. Support group meetings take place on the third Sunday of each month from 2:00pm-4:00pm for adults over the age of 18. You can find a schedule of the upcoming FFSS support group meetings here.

Members are actively working with city officials, legislators, city planners, police, transit authorities, active transportation advocates, public health professionals, and the travelling public in an effort to end traffic violence and work towards safer and more accessible Toronto streets. The traffic culture in Toronto must be revamped to consider the safety of all road users and it must be understood that fatalities and injuries can and should be prevented.

You can contact the FFSS Support Group at or 416-642-9395. Don’t forget to follow FFSS on Facebook and Twitter at @ffsafestreets to stay updated on all of the events and meetings that are held.

FFSS’ first vigil in remembrance of those who were injured or killed by road violence will  be held at Nathan Phillips Square on June 27, 2017 at 6:00pm. All are welcome.

Blog 37 - FFSS

It’s My Road Too: Equality, Complete Streets and the Province

As the Provincial Government grapples with a new cycling strategy, anyone engaged in the debate understands that there are no simple solutions or quick fixes. An old infrastructure designed for cars, clogged roadways with users competing for space, and a limited amount of funding make meaningful change at all levels seem next to impossible.   Where do we begin?  A one meter passing rule.  That’s a good start, but not a long term solution.   Riding paths that circle the City, although valuable do not get you safely to the store to buy bread, work or go to the local café.  The implementation of bike lanes seems to be like trench warfare. Gains and losses are determined street by street, ward by ward, city by city. Exhausting, slow and for the most part disjointed.

However there is hope! It emerges from the forward thinking of our Chief Coroners’ Office.  It is not based on specifics, but on how decision makers are to look at things. A new culture perhaps.  Its called “Complete Streets”.  Words, that to date, are not mentioned in any provincial policy statement, legislation, or standard. An approach that is growing in US. One that has been advocated for the last few years by active transportation advocates like TCAT and Cycle Toronto.

One that now has some wheels. In 2012 the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario released the Cycling Death Review.  During the course of the review, various stakeholders including the Coroner’s Office, medical professionals, law enforcement, Toronto Transit Commission, Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO), Ontario Medical Association, City of Toronto, and various cycling and road associations participated.

Following the review the Dr. Dan Cass, Deputy Chief Coroner made his number one recommendation to be “Complete Streets”.  The words were clear. “To the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing a complete streets approach should be adopted to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the creation of new communities throughout Ontario.” 

Shortly after that, the Coroners office released the Pedestrian Death Review.  Again, the very first recommendation was “Complete Streets”.  “The complete streets approach should be adopted to guide the development of new communities and the redevelopment of existing communities in Ontario.  Complete streets should be designed to be safe, convenient and comfortable for every user, regardless of transportation mode, physical ability, or age.”

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Supreme Court Ruling: Drivers to slow down in areas with Children

The Supreme Court of Canada has held that motorists ought to be held liable for injuries when they fail to slow down and drive carefully in areas where there is a possibility there may be children, including playgrounds, schools and built up residential areas. 

In the case, Anapolis County District School Board v. Marshall, a 4 years old suffered “catastrophic” injuries when struck by a school bus.  The Supreme Court upheld the trial judges direction to the jury that recited the law, as it applied to children, is as follows:

In a school or playground area or in a built up residential district, a motorist should drive more slowly and carefully and keep a lookout for the possibility of children running out into the street. Here you must decide whether the circumstances were such as to put the defendant motorist on notice that he was approaching an area where children were likely to be, and therefore should exercise greater care in the operation of his motor vehicle.

In dissenting reasons for Judgement, Justice Cromwell found that the Jury charge was in fact confusing and that the heightened standard of care when driving near children needed to be stressed even more by the trial judge.  

The ruling is consistent with the recent Ontario Coroners’ Review on Pedestrian Deaths that calls for reduced speed limits in areas with children.  Simply going the speed limit may not be enough.  The actions of a child are clearly different than adults. When drivers are entering areas where there is a possibility of children running out, they ought to slow down and keep a keen eye out.  The ruling adds to a long list of authorities that require extra care must be taken when children are involved.

Trucks, Side Guards and Cyclists

On July 1, 1998 W.J. Lucas, Regional Coroner for Toronto, July 1, 1998 recommended Transport Canada investigate the feasibility of requiring “side guards” for large trucks, trailers and buses operated in urban areas to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being run over by the rear wheels in collisions with these large vehicles.

Side guards are a legal requirement in the UK and in Europe to reduce injuries to pedestrians and cyclists.  The mechanism of injuries for cyclists and pedestrians involved in slow speed collisions to be a dragging down motion of the victim caused by the large tire’s slow rotation.  Side guards are designed to reduce the risk of a cyclist or pedestrian being dragged down under the rear wheels.  The lack of side guards has been a contributing factor to multiple deaths to cyclists over the years including two deaths within the core in 1996 (which gave rise to the 1998 recommendation) and the death of Ryan Carriere in 2005.  

The Federal Government (Transport Canada) sets vehicle standards for all new vehicles which are manufactured in or imported into Canada.  The responsibility for mandating truck or bus safety equipment, including retrofitting, would therefore fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada.  The responsibility of the Province would include prescribing that side guard protection remain in place and maintained if they were prescribed by the Federal Agency.  Continue reading

Lets Not Forget

This Halloween will be the fifth anniversary of the death of Ryan Carriere. Ryan was killed when struck down by a truck making an improper right turn at Queen and Gladstone. Ryan was a loving husband and a devoted father to his children. He was an artist, a cyclist and an integral part of his community. Ryan was a remarkable individual and his death was preventable. He was an innocent victim. He was simply riding his bike home from work.

A new City Government will be in place within weeks. They will be empowered to decide how infrastructure money will be spent. It is hoped that each councillor will take the time to review what happened to Ryan and the many other cyclists that have been either killed or injured on Toronto streets. The human factor should never be forgotten when policy decisions are made. Injuries and deaths on the streets are preventable.

In 1975 City Council adopted a statement that “it is the policy of council to implement programs that will promote and facilitate greater and safer use of the bicycle.”

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Three Feet Rule in Ontario. Do we need it ?

Recently Cheri DiNovo an MPP for Parkdale has brought forward a private members bill requiring motorists to give three feet of space to cyclists.  A similar law has been passed in 16 States south of the border.  What will be seen is how Minister Kathleen Wynne and the government reacts to the proposed law. 

Is this a good law for Ontario?

Yes it is.  If every driver obeyed this basic concept of giving space to cyclists, there would be a sharp reduction in the number of cyclists killed and injured on our roads. Statistics indicate that the majority of cyclist’s injuries and deaths are caused at the time a vehicle passes.  There are very few who could possibly argue that if the law was obeyed, the number of accidents would be reduced.

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