Note: Singer Kwinter will be contributing a few posts to BikingToronto in June in honour of Brain Injury Awareness Month.
In June 2012 the Office of the Chief Coroner released a report having reviewed some 129 deaths of Ontarians from cycling related accidents from 2006 to 2010. The report put out 14 recommendations which included the following:
- Adoption of a “complete streets” approach – focused on the safety of all road users – to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the design of new communities throughout Ontario.
- Development of an Ontario Cycling Plan to guide the development of policy, legislation and regulations and the commitment of infrastructure funding to support cycling in Ontario.
- A comprehensive cycling safety public awareness and education strategy, starting in public schools, and continuing through the purchase of every new and used bicycle and through driver’s license testing.
- Legislative change (Highway Traffic Act (HTA); Municipal Act; relevant Municipal By-Laws) aimed at ensuring clarity and consistency regarding interactions between cyclists and other road users.
- Strategies to promote and support helmet use for cyclists of all ages.
- Implementation of mandatory helmet legislation for cyclists of all ages, within the context of an evaluation of the impact of this legislation on cycling activity.
- Establishment of a “one-meter” rule for vehicles when passing cyclists.
- Prioritizing the development of paved shoulders on provincial highways.
- Mandatory side-guards for heavy trucks.
- Enforcement, education and public safety activities targeted to the specific issues of cycling safety identified in a given community.
Unfortunately, in the four years that have since past, very little has been done to implement most of the recommendations. At the municipal level dedicated bike lanes have been established on major roads such as Sherbourne Avenue. Recently, the city has begun plans to add bike lanes on other major roads such as Bloor Street. Bicycle dedicated lanes have been met with mixed reviews by cyclists and motorists. Toronto cyclists would like to see the Swedish-based Vision Zero Strategy implemented, a comprehensive approach to increasing mobility in the city while eliminating cyclist related death. Unfortunately, the release of the Toronto Road Safety Plan suggests we are not quite there yet. Safety and reducing traffic are the paramount goals but sometimes they can conflict. At the provincial level even less has been done to improve rider safety. It is regrettable that the Ontario government has not done more to prevent more fatalities.