Tag Archives: bike safety

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

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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