Tag Archives: Cycling

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

McLeish Orlando is proud to support Cycle Toronto’s Get Lit! Campaign

McLeish Orlando is once again proud to support Cycle Toronto’s Get Lit! Campaign.  Cycle Toronto is planning four events to educate Toronto cyclists about the need to stay lit when riding after dark.

Get Lit! is part of Cycle Toronto’s Street Smarts Outreach program intended to educate Toronto cyclists about staying safe while riding. The Get Lit! campaign is held every October.

To learn more about the Get Lit! Campaign and how you can cycle safe, click here.

Check out Get Lit! Campaign Events: 

Get Lit! Campaign Event – October 6th,  Art Gallery of Ontario
Get Lit! Campaign Event – October 13th,  Boulton Drive Parkette
Get Lit! Campaign Event – October 20th,  College-Shaw Library
Get Lit! Campaign Event – October 27th,  Castle Frank Subway Station

BC Court acknowledges power imbalance between car and bike in road rage incident

By: Patrick Brown

In Davies v. Elston, 2014 BCSC 2435 (CanLII) the defendant motorist overheard two passing cyclists commenting on the danger presented by the outstretched mirrors of his truck, which was parked to the right of a designated bike lane.  Annoyed, he got in his truck and chased the cyclists. A verbal altercation broke out and one of the cyclists fell and broke his hip.

Despite the fact that there was no contact between the car and the cyclists, the motorist was found to be entirely at fault for the cyclist’s injuries.  Justice Griffin wisely states in the decision:

“No matter how aggravating a cyclist’s behavior might be, and I find there was nothing aggravating about the Davies’ conduct, a driver of a motor vehicle can never be justified in deliberately using a motor vehicle to confront a cyclist who is riding a bike… It has to be remembered that motor vehicles have four wheels, automatic brakes, seatbelts and the driver is nicely encased in a heavy steel cage and that a person on a bicycle is not in a situation which is the least bit comparable, even if going the same speed as a vehicle. A cyclist cannot stop on a dime, is vulnerable to losing balance, and can be seriously injured or killed if he or she makes contact with a motor vehicle or falls at a high speed.”

Road Warriors

By: Patrick Brown, McLeish Orlando LLP

Published in: Precedent Magazine, Spring 2014 issue 

Toronto has one of the highest collision rates per capita for cyclists of any large Canadian city. More than 1,000 bicycle riders are injured in Toronto each year — and the real figure is much higher, since an estimated 80 percent go unreported. (Our province isn’t doing so well either: roughly 26,000 Ontarians wind up in the ER each year due to cycling accidents.)

As a critical injury lawyer who works with victims of cycling accidents and their families, I’ve had a front-row seat to the aftermath of these collisions. The devastating impact these cases have on victims’ loved ones goes far beyond what the statistics report. And there’s a tragedy of an even wider scope: so much could be done to prevent both minor injuries and fatalities on bikes. Our city and province know what these things are, but without the threat of lawsuits, our governments are reluctant to invest money in cycling safety.

Continue reading

Cyclists, Mind The Gap

Photo Credit: I Bike TO

With the start of spring and my return to commuting by bike to work, the potholes that rattled my car are now more than a mere inconvenience.  Aside from falling after hitting a pothole, the more concerning risk is swerving to avoid a pothole and not checking for approaching cars.  The possibility of a car swerving into a cyclist is an equally realistic concern.  Although a sharp lookout is the best defence, the city has a duty to repair potholes, and typically will fix them if they are over a specific size within 4 days. Continue reading

Bike Safety: Cycling at Night

Cycle-Toronto-get-lit-Oct-9-13

With the arrival of the fall season fast approaching, days are shorter, leaving numerous cyclists caught in the dark on their commute home from work. Cycling at night is a dangerous time to bike due to poor visibility. Without lights, cyclists become invisible to motor vehicles.

The McLeish Orlando team took to the Toronto streets last night to promote Cycle Toronto’s Get Lit! campaign. The campaign is aimed towards educating the public on safe cycling at night. Under Ontario law, cyclists must have a rear red light or reflector and a front white light shining thirty minutes before sundown and thirty minutes before sunrise. Continue reading

Bike Safety: A Self Reporting System for “Dooring” Cycling Accidents

Torontonian Web Designer Finds a Solution to a Lack of Police Monitoring

Between 2007 and 2011 an average of 144 “dooring” accidents were reported in Toronto. “Dooring” occurs when an oncoming cyclist hits an abruptly opened car door.

A recent change to the Provincial definition of a collision now requires a vehicle to be in “motion” to be considered a collision. The new definition excluding “dooring”, has forced Police to stop investigating accidents where cyclists have been “doored”. In the summer months where tourists and commuters take to the congested Torontonian streets, a lack of monitoring of “dooring” incidents is of great concern.

But fear not, while Police officers must wait to be ordered to begin monitoring these kinds of accidents again, one young Torontonian has come up with a solution to the lack of monitoring. His plan; create an online database designed as a self-reporting system for cyclists who have been plagued with the horrible fate of getting “doored”. Continue reading

Helmets on Kids Campaign Aims to Head Off Dangerous Trend

As seen on AdvocateDaily.com

Toronto (June 11, 2013) – Hundreds of young cyclists will be safer on Toronto streets, thanks to this year’s Helmets on Kids campaign launched at Blake Street Junior Public School. Helmets have been donated to 500 students, as part of a campaign aimed at stopping a dangerous trend.

 “The reality is that too many kids injured in cycling collisions in Toronto, are not wearing helmets,” said Patrick Brown, critical injury lawyer at McLeish Orlando LLP, organizer of the Toronto Helmets on Kids Campaign, and director of Cycle Toronto. “Studies show that helmets reduce the severity of head injuries, and it just makes sense to have kids wearing helmets.”

  • In 2012, 51 cyclists between the ages of five and 14 were injured in cycling collisions in Toronto. Of those, only 13 were wearing helmets;
  • Between 2006 and 2011, an average of 80 cyclists, between the ages of five and 14, were injured each year in cycling collisions in Toronto;

Toronto’s Helmets on Kids campaign was launched in 2009 by McLeish Orlando LLP. Over the past four years, the campaign has donated helmets to more than 1,500 public school students across Toronto. The Ontario Safety League, Toronto Police, Eastview Boys & Girls Club, Cycle Toronto, the Brain Injury Society of Toronto, the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association and Ward 30 Councillor Paula Fletcher support this year’s campaign. Cycle Solutions has also generously donated its time and services, to provide free bike tune-ups at the event.

“The simple fact is that helmets save lives,” said Brian Patterson, President of the Ontario Safety League. “We’re very proud to support a campaign that helps improve cycling safety for so many young people. We’re urging parents to make sure their kids are wearing helmets.”

Ontario passed a law in 1995, requiring cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Parents can also be charged if they knowingly allow their children, who are under 16, to ride without a helmet on a roadway or sidewalk.

 

During this year’s campaign launch, Patrick Brown provided students with safe cycling tips that included the following:

  • Obey traffic signals and the rules of the road;
  • Ensure your bicycle has a bell, as well as reflectors and lights for night use;
  • Always yield to pedestrians, and use your hand signal for lane changes.

 

Watch City News

 

 

McLeish Orlando’s Toronto Helmets on Kids campaign is part of a province-wide Bike Helmets on Kids program started by members of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) in 2002. Since its first event, held in London, Ontario, more than 19,000 helmets have been distributed to elementary school students. All helmets are purchased with funds donated by OTLA lawyers, their firms and other community sponsors.

In 2013, OTLA Bike Helmets on Kids events have taken place throughout May and June in Ottawa, Toronto, Aurora, Halton Region (Burlington), Peel Region, Barrie, Quinte West (Belleville and Trenton), Sudbury, Windsor, Simcoe County (Midland), and Thunder Bay. These events will help distribute an estimated 4,000 bicycle helmets this year to children in cities and regions across Ontario. For more information, visit www.otla.com.

McLeish Orlando’s Helmets on Kids Campaign Kicks Off

Not only is it Bike Month in Toronto, but Brain Injury Awareness Month. That makes the upcoming launch of the Helmets on Kids campaign especially timely.

This is the 5th annual Helmet On Kids campaign organized by Patrick Brown, an avid cyclist.

This year’s campaign kicks off at Blake Street Junior Public School at 2pm on Tuesday, June 11th. That’s when Patrick will donate helmets to 500 young cyclists. Since the campaign began four years ago, it has donated 1,500 helmets to students across Toronto.

The Helmets on Kids campaign is aimed at making this a safer summer by encouraging more young cyclists to wear helmets. We know helmets are a simple way of preventing serious brain injuries. We also know that more kids should be wearing them. Statistics show that only 13 of 51 young cyclists involved in collisions last year in Toronto were wearing a helmet.

We’re working hard to change that. Please make sure your kids are wearing helmets when out on bike riding this summer.

Happy cycling!

McLeish Orlando’s Toronto Helmets on Kids campaign is part of a province-wide Bike Helmets on Kids program started by members of the Ontario Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) in 2002. Since its first event, held in London, Ontario, more than 19,000 helmets have been distributed to elementary school students. All helmets are purchased with funds donated by OTLA lawyers, their firms and other community sponsors.

In 2013, OTLA Bike Helmets on Kids events have taken place throughout May and June in Ottawa, Toronto, Aurora, Halton Region (Burlington), Peel Region, Barrie, Quinte West (Belleville and Trenton), Sudbury, Windsor, Simcoe County (Midland), and Thunder Bay. These events will help distribute an estimated 4,000 bicycle helmets this year to children in cities and regions across Ontario. For more information, visit www.otla.com.

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.”

Continue reading

Avoiding (Legal) Potholes on Your E-Bike

It’s that time of year again. The time when hard-core cyclists say to themselves, “Do I really have to share the bike lane with those scooter-like things?” Like them or not, e-bikes are back on the roads after their annual winter migration to storage. If last year was any indication, the number of e-bikes on the road this spring can be expected to increase yet again.

While the year-round cycling purist may look over the dropped handlebars of his retro fixed-gear bicycle at the e-biker with disdain, e-bikes look like they are here to stay. E-bikes represent a viable commuting option for “suits” who can’t show up to work sweaty and who, unlike me, don’t have the luxury of keeping a wardrobe at the office. They are also a more feasible option for people with physical limitations or who just need a bit of help on steep hills.

To encourage the use of e-bikes, the government allows riders to operate them without a driver’s licence and without the need to purchase insurance. For people who want a cheap, green, and non-sweaty mode of travel there aren’t any apparent drawbacks to using an e-bike – unless your e-bike is not really an e-bike. How do you know if what you are riding is in fact an e-bike? The government certainly hasn’t made it easy. Finding the complete definition means you have to look at the provincial Highway Traffic Act and the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations. That’s a pretty heavy onus to place on someone who just wants to ride a bike with a bit of a power boost.

More importantly, why should you care whether your e-bike fits the definition? As long as you’re riding a machine that suits your needs, who cares if it’s technically an “e-bike” or not, right? Wrong. If your machine turns out not to be an e-bike, you could be operating a motor vehicle without insurance. And the consequences of operating a motor vehicle without insurance are significant.

The first obvious consequence of riding a motor vehicle insurance is a ticket under the Highway Traffic Act or the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. This could lead to substantial penalties. But a ticket and its accompanying penalty pales in comparison to what could happen if you are involved in a collision while operating an uninsured motor vehicle. Most significantly, you lose the right to sue. You might think that you aren’t looking to get rich off a lawsuit. But, suing for injuries in Ontario is not about getting rich. If you are severely injured, you could be looking at hundreds of thousands of dollars in health care expenses that are not covered by OHIP. You might also be unable to continue working, or only be able to work in a part-time or reduced capacity – for the rest of your career. If you lose the right to sue, you alone will bear the responsibility for these losses. Even if the driver of the other vehicle is 100% at fault.

That’s why it is so important to know what an e-bike is. Here are the key points you need to know to ensure that what you are riding is really an e-bike:

•It cannot be capable of going faster than 32 km an hour on level ground;
•It must have operable pedals affixed to it;
•You must be able to operate it “solely by muscular power”;
•The power output of the motor must be 500W or less; and
•It must have a label stating (in both official languages) that the vehicle is a power-assisted bicycle.
Take a look around the streets of Toronto and you will see many bikes that match this description, with the exception of the pedals. Because so many e-bike users never actually use pedals to operate the e-bike, they remove the pedals and store them under their seats. If you are considering doing this, don’t. The moment you remove your pedals, they are inoperable. That means that you are no longer riding an e-bike. You’re just operating a motor vehicle without insurance.

There are good arguments for removing the pedal requirement from the definition of an e-bike altogether. If the goal is to encourage people to use small, green vehicles, why should it matter if they have pedals? It’s not as if you are ever required to actually use the pedals on your e-bike. But regardless of the validity of arguments for changing the definition, the fact is that the law as it stands requires pedals. So, until the legislation is changed, keep those pedals on your e-bike. That way, I can avoid painful discussions with prospective clients who have lost their right to obtain badly-needed compensation for health care expenses and lost income. And riders of e-bikes and pedal-powered bikes can turn their attention back to the endless debate about whether e-bikes belong in bike lanes with the fixies.

Tips when you get Hit ! Getting ready to Ride.

The biking season is on us and we all need to ride safely.  Unfortunately, no matter how safe you are, you do not control those around you.  Approximately 20 percent of the neurotrauma injuries and deaths on our roads involve cyclists.

If you are hit, make sure you take the proper steps to protect yourself.  If you are unable to do it, ask another cyclist or person on the scene to help you.

  1. Get immediate medical care.
  2. Contact the police.
  3. Take down the name, licence plate and insurance information of who hit you.
  4. Report the incident to the police if they do not attend the scene.
  5. Get the names of Witnesses.  The police will investigate, but not all witnesses are listed in the accident report.  As the scene disperses, key witnesses can be lost forever.  The driver may tell a conflicting story of what happened. Without witnesses, it is you against them.
  6. Have someone photograph/video the scene, the location of your bike, the car, and the damage to the car that hit you.  If the injuries are significant, this is valuable evidence that will assist forensic engineers in determining what happened and helping later on.
  7. Contact your own auto insurance company to apply for benefits within 7 days. There are various benefits available to you regardless if you are at fault..  If you do not have car insurance, send the forms to the insurance company of the person who hit you.
  8. Send in your benefits forms within 30 days.
  9. Notify within 120 days the driver that hit you that you intend to start a lawsuit.
  10. You have two years from the date of the accident to sue the driver that hit you. Many people are under the misapprehension that under the present no fault insurance regime, no one can sue.  That is not true.

Ontario has one of the most complicated auto insurance systems in North America.  It competes with the Income Tax Act when it comes to complexity.  If you are significantly hurt while riding, you should consult a lawyer who specializes in this area.   The times limits above are only a few of the many procedural mazes involved.

Ride safe, stay healthy and avoid lawyers!.

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.”

Continue reading