Cyclist killed on Eglinton Ave.

The Toronto Star is reporting that a cyclist was killed on Thursday at 1:00pm after being doored and run over on Eglinton Ave. near Braemar Ave (Map).

A 57 year-old male cyclist was killed today after a collision with an opening car door hurled him into oncoming traffic. He was the city's 20th traffic fatality this year.

The accident occurred as the man was biking eastbound on Eglinton Ave., near Braemar Ave., just after 1 p.m. this afternoon. The cyclist was struck by a Ford cube van after colliding with the driver's side door of a parked Volvo, police say.

He was taken to hospital, but died from his injuries around 5 p.m. this evening.

Police are asking for any witnesses to the collision to call 416-808-1900.

I'm sure more details will show up in the media soon, and ARC will hold a memorial next Thursday.

Very sad. I was hoping this year would continue on a positive note...

Updated media links:

Update: Charges laid.

Comments

Without knowing the accident details, and the guilt or innocence of the two vehicle operators (but...) I'd say the city has liabilty here, on a moral if not legal level. Get rid of arterial on-street parking! How are you supposed to be safe to the left of the door prize, and to the right of the idiots?!

My condolences to the family. Another damn waste.

...no one will be charged. Just another unfortunate incident.

Bullsh_t. Absolute bullsh_t.

It suprises me that the city doesn't post signage targeting/warning door openner's near parking spots. Or even signs instruction drivers were to stop when street cars are stopping, how many times do cars block the streetcar doors (or passengers get stuck while exiting the Streetcar). The truth is some people don't know because the city hasn't made a valid effort to educate drivers on urban driving.

To further my point yesterday I almost ate an open door but luckily stopped in time. The driver thought it was my fault I told him legally he would of been ticketed he said he never heard of such thing. I fear that this is the case with most car owners.

The death of this cyclist could of and should of been avoided, unfortunatly it happen again so long as we can inform all drivers of the real danger they pose.

This is a tragedy, and it likely was preventable.
It's a good fit to the reality of biking in Toronto though, and if it casts a dark shadow over the Bike Month and the blah-blah from the City - that's great!
I was nearly doored by a cabbie 2879 ASWR 765 on Wed. c. 12:15 at Bloor/Spadina as the cabbie needed a coffee, we exchanged pleasantries, and I ended up calling 911. But no blood on the streets, no injuries "we can't file a report on that" and the 911 hangs up on me.
Yet if I were to take my Ulock and start swinging it around me with the same equivalent of force with the laws of physics that a sharp door edge brings to a cyclist, the cops wouldn't just be there quickly, I'd be "taken care of".
Our cops also failed Geoffrey when he was "bumped" when taking a lane on the Lakeshore, and there are very good bike-sensitive cops around, but there are also "carist" ones.
And they sometimes don't look either - a friend Danny Beaton was doored by a cop on Spadina and Danny thought it might have been a case of cycling while being native, though he didn't push the incident being stretched/stressed as it was before being injured.
And sometimes accidents do just happen, maybe because we travel a bit too quickly for urban conditions, maybe because the cyclist isn't in mirror zone, because there's the fear of being run down - see above.
We can't just blame the City though, the province could act too - how about penalties for door prizes of $5,000, $10,000 if causing death plus funeral expenses plus 2 months in jail and loss of driving privileges?
There are reasons for cyclists riding on sidewalks, and sometimes pushing pedestrians around to the point of serious injury to them, and sometimes (but rarely) death.
Condolences,
but thanks to ARC + Darren + Derek + tino for their ongoing caring enough to do these sometimes draining memorials.

Matt has a good posting on his website about the way the headline of the Star's article is worded to put blame on the cyclist.

I'll be very surprised if any charges will be laid. A few years ago Ron Freeman was nearly killed in almost identical collision on College street. The driver received a $100 fine, that was all.

The media should be alerted to the fact that dooring is the ONLY action that a driver can take that will be assessed by insurance companies as 100% fault for accident. Anything else and the fault is shared. If the INSURANCE industry sees it this way there must be something to it.

Witnesses? The action causing the accident is 100% on the driver, no witnesses are needed if it is established that the victim was doored.

no charges and we march on TPS and city hall.

Condolences to the family & friends of the victim in this preventable tragedy

It is a ticketable & demerit loss offense. There would need to be a different charge laid as dooring is a traffic violation.

However, as long as police ticket the driver then the driver can be held responsible for the terrible extent of their actions in civil court

This happend right in front of my office. I am a cyclist and a driver. I obviously rode into work as much to make a point to my co workers than anything today. I ride from queen and landsdowne but occasionally drive a small vehicle when I need to lug some gear around. some of my co-workers were walking by and saw the man being lifted into the ambulance and when they got back to the office called me crazy for cycling on eglington.

Well I hope this is a reminder that cycling has a real stigma and a lot of people are in fear of cycling to work, and events like this are no help.

More particularly, I know that Bike Lane Diary keeps (kept?) a count of Smog Days, but does anyone keep a list of cyclist deaths? Google didn't give me anything more recent than the 1986-1996 study.

Thanks! (Uh, in a morbid kind of way.)

It's so sad to hear about this.

My sadness will soon turn to anger though if there are no charges. It seems no one knows that opening a car door in the path of traffic is illegal, even the police. Here's the latest from the Star:

Although the investigation is still ongoing, Sgt. Tim Burrows, communications and media relations officer for Toronto Traffic Services, said that it was likely an accident and it does not look like charges will be laid.

Regardless, police are asking witnesses to call 416-808-1900 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).

I have a tip for them.

-dj

-dj

From the latest Star article:

Although the investigation is still ongoing, Sgt. Tim Burrows, communications and media relations officer for Toronto Traffic Services, said that it was likely an accident and it does not look like charges will be laid.

So the lesson we learn here is: Even when you do something negligent and illegal that results in someone's death, you will not have to suffer any consequences if it was "an accident".

and dooring is never an accident. It is a case of carelessness, inattention or outright negligence and, therefore, not an accident.

Such a shame this happened.

And, for the record, it is May 23 and we have already reached our usual yearly average of 3 cyclists deaths. There's still more than half a year to go.

There ought to be a charge laid though. I was injured by an opening car door on Bloor Street. Although my assailant (for lack of a better word) was a passenger and not driving. There must have been a charge laid because I attended court or hearing (it was about 23 years ago). With or without charges I believe that there can be liability (in this case causing death) in this case.

I was injured while westbound on Bloor near Spadina, riding at night with no headlight and at speed. I was struck by a passenger door opened towards the curb lane by a vehicle that was stopped in traffic. I was between parked cars on my right and stopped traffic on my left.

A broken metatarsal resulted in a (modest) out-of-court settlement. I don't see why a similar collision (there are no accidents) during daylight would not bring rise to a similar finding of responsibility.

M.

I have to say, I'm a little disappointed in the following quote from Yvonne Bambrick of the Bike Union, quoted in the second Star article...

"You have to be aware that there are bikes on the road. You must look before you open your door onto the roadway," Bambrick said, adding that cyclists also have to take some responsibility.

"Be aware of the road users around you and act accordingly . . . you can't not pay attention when you're on a bike."

It starts off fine, but then all of a sudden it's like she's making excuses for the guilty motorist.

This is a case where the driver is clearly 100% at fault for killing a cyclist. This is not an occasion to say, "well, sometimes cyclists are careless, too".

If the Bike Union wants my membership dues, I expect them to advocate for cyclists, not make public statements that sound like they came out of the mouth of Rob Ford.

I don't have a problem with her comment, it's a good idea for both motorists and cyclists to be cautious and ride defensively - always being alert and ready for the unexpected.
Most dooring can be avoided if we ride a bit further away from parked cars than many people do, this isn't excusing drivers who don't look before opening their doors.

"Most dooring can be avoided if we ride a bit further away from parked cars than many people do"

Easier said than done. For example, when streetcar tracks form a barrier to the centre lane, or when cars in the centre lane (most often cabbies) drive too far to the right, forcing us closer to the parked cars.

Anyway, none of this is the point. The point is a cyclist who was following the rules of the road was killed by a careless motorist, who is getting off without any charges being laid. An appropriate response from a bike union would be outrage and demands that laws be changed to hold motorists accountable in such situations. Instead we get a response that verges on blaming the victim.

"Although the investigation is still ongoing, Sgt. Tim Burrows,
communications and media relations officer for Toronto Traffic
Services, said that it was likely an accident and it does not look
like charges will be laid."

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/429336

I am sending this email to Councillors Stintz and Walker, as well as the Toronto Police Services:

Hello, Coucillors Stintz and Walker,

As noted in the Toronto Star:
http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/429141

A cyclist was killed on the boundary between your two wards yesterday. The death was caused by a person in a car opening their door into the path of traffic, which is illegal. However, it appears that this criminal negligence resulting in the death of the cyclist will not be treated as a crime by the police, because it was "accidental."

It seems very unjust that a person was killed and there will be no repercussions for the party which should be held accountable.

I will be sending this email to the Toronto Police Services Traffic Services division as well.

Regards,

Ben Wendt

It seems perfectly appropriate for the Bike Union to take this opportunity to remind cyclists that being safe is more important than being right.

Nice job blaming the victim, Annie. Very sad.

"It seems perfectly appropriate for the Bike Union to take this opportunity to remind cyclists that being safe is more important than being right."

As far as we know, the cyclist was being safe. Now he's dead. Therefore, her comment did not address the issue and was not only irrelevant, but a little disrespectful to the victim and his family.

1996 King/Jarvis - Car
1996 Bathurst/Queen - Truck
1996 Commissioners/Lake Ontario -Transport Truck
1996 Mount Pleasant/Roxborough - Car
1996 Wilson/Keele - Car
1996 Queensway/Roncesvalles - Van
1997 Dufferin/Bloor - Dump Truck
1997 Eglinton/Allen - Car
1997 University/Dundas - Bus/Doored by Car
1998 Oak Park/Lumsden - Minivan
1998 Martingrove/Westway - Car
1998 Midland/Havendale - Car
1998 Spadina/Clarence Square - Tanker Truck
1998 Lakeshore/Royal York - ??
1998 Pape/Harcourt - Van
1999 Kipling/New Toronto - ??
1999 Lawrence/Morningdew - Pickup Truck
2000 Bloor/Islington - Chevy Blazer
2000 Old Kingston Rd/Orchard Park - ??
2001 McCowan/Commander - None
2001 Jarvis/Isabella - ??
2002 Finch/404 - Car
2002 Martingrove/Finch - Car
2003 Islington/Albion - Car
2004 Dundas/Dupont - Pickup Truck
2004 Robert Jenkins
2005 Horner and Kipling - Truck
2005 Gladstone and Queen - Truck
2005 Eastern and Leslie - Truck
2006 Keele and Wilson - Truck
2006 Queensquay and Windermere - Car
2006 Avenue Rd and Cortleigh - Truck
2006 Eglinton and Leslie - Cement Mixer
2007 York Mills and Bayfiew - Dump Truck
2007 Pharmacy and Lawrence - Truck
2007 Baymills and Birchmount/Warden - Car/Crosswalk
2008 Eglinton/Braemar - Doored by car/Van

Whether or not the driver gets fined or not really doesn't address the core problem ... that opening a door into traffic is an inherently dangerous act. One that is far more dangerous because people don't understand what a just how difficult it is to see if the "coast is clear" ... and how fatal any accident could be. .

The Union could go a long way towards addressing this issue with a public education campaign on the right way to open a door in traffic (noting the legalities involved).

My modest first draft:

THREE STEPS TO SAFETY
How to open a door in traffic

Step one: do a shoulder and mirror check to ensure no traffic is approaching.
Step two: open your door slightly (~10 cm). Look again to see if there is any oncoming cyclist traffic.
Step three: once you have confirmed it is safe to do so, open the door and exit.

If we could get people doing this these three steps, it would give us cyclists a window of opportunity (step two) while in the "strike zone" to either warn the driver (bell or yell), move to the left, and/or get hard on the brakes to either avoid or at least minimize any collision.

No matter how defensive a cyclist you are, there are these moments when you are in the blind spot of a parked car that, if they cooincide with a person about the exit the vehicle, you are not going to have a lot of chance to react.

Annie let's review the case:
- The cyclist was 57; i.e., he was mature not some hot dogging adolescent and riding responsibly. He was a father too.
- He was experienced. FWIW this was stated on CFRB's John Moore Show (more following).
- the accident occurred at 1:12 PM so adverse weather and poor visibility weren't factors.

Yes, he shouldn't have been riding in the door zone, but who among us has never momentarily ventured there as a courtesy to motorists wishing to pass?

Responsibility + experience + ideal riding conditions + (possibly?) courtesy = game over. WTF is wrong with this picture?

Annie that could've been you with your brains bleeding onto the asphalt. That's the reality. What other class of road user has to routinely anticipate the equivalent of someone surprising them by swinging a baseball bat at their head during the course of their trip?

Plaudits to John Moore

The CFRB broadcaster -- and avid cyclist -- led his 4 PM CFRB show with this item. He adeptly fielded the usual array of CO addled callers bemoaning cyclists' lawlessness and right to a place on the road -- completely immaterial here. He argued the case competently while elaborating on the hazards confronting workaday cyclists.

Favourite quote from Mr. Moore: "Bicycles are the transportation of the future!" The man is obviously sympathetic -- excellent job!

John appealed to Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union for a comment. Compassion and exasperation was evident in her voice; I was expecting a more forceful tone, perhaps tact is the favoured approach on the part of the Union.

We'll see.

LOL. I expect the recommendations will work. That is, after a motorist puts down his coffee, hangs up the cellphone, and stifles the seismic sound levels of the radio enough to actually hear what's going on.

Yes, the fault is entirely the driver's. But when I tell this story to my kids, there is no way I'm going to pass up the opportunity to remind them of the dangers of biking alongside parked cars, along with reminders of a few strategies to do so more safely. How do those warning to my kids translate into assigning blame to the cyclist? I think Yvonne's comments came from that same maternal instinct - the need to tell all cyclists, including the many less experienced ones out there, to bike defensively because there are a lot of people out there doing a lot of stupid things. It's not a commentary on what this particular cyclist should have done.

A correction to your list Tino. The killing of Patrick Lonergan on Pharmacy was a homicide. It is incidental that a truck was involved.

With all due respect, Annie, what you tell your kids is an entirely different matter from the public statement of the spokesperson for a union.

I got doored myself, not too long ago. I was riding along Queen St, following all the rules of the road, paying close attention to everything around me, staying as far to the left as the streetcar tracks would allow and I was blindsided. No time to react. My first thought was "Why am I on the ground?"

When I told people about it, a few said "You need to be more careful." You cannot imagine how frustrating it is to hear this. I was being careful, but when a door comes swinging out at you without any warning, there are no "strategies" that will keep you from being thrown into traffic.

So, I guess it's kind of personal with me.

More than that, though, the purpose of a union is to effect change. They are supposed to advocate on behalf of their members. If a worker dies on the line because of unsafe equipment, I would not expect that worker's union to respond by saying "Well, that was an unfortunate accident. Let me take this opportunity to remind all the other workers on the line to be extra cautious." I would expect the union to make a fuss and demand change from the people who run the factory. To extend the analogy to our current discussion, I would expect an appropriate response to be "It is unacceptable that a responsible cyclist who was following the rules of the road be killed because of the negligent actions of one driver. This is a reminder that we urgently need proper cycling infrastructure in Toronto, so that people can feel safe when riding their bikes."

What it comes down to is this... What I expect from a union is someone who will fight for my rights, not offer me safety tips.

If you haven't sent your coin to the Bike Union yet, I suggest you wait like me to see what they do about this killing. If they pussy out, they're just another weak-tea cycling group that the police, drivers and the city can talk pretty to, and run down.

Come on Bike Union, surprise me (please!).

Annie:

Yes, the fault is entirely the driver's. But when I tell this story to my kids, there is no way I'm going to pass up the opportunity to remind them of the dangers of biking alongside parked cars, along with reminders of a few strategies to do so more safely.

Then at the risk of presumptuousness when you "tell this story to the kids", be honest, don't omit the true nature of the dangers confronting cyclists, the real moral of this story. To wit, they can ride as responsibly and conscientiously as humanly possible, as the victim in this instance ostensibly was, and still wind up a red smear on the pavement. They should accept this fact: because of their vulnerability they are at the mercy of motorists' (ir)responsibility and (in)competence. Better that they learn now that, to some drivers, their lives aren't worth a 2 second glance in a mirror.

Rob:

To extend the analogy to our current discussion, I would expect an appropriate response to be "It is unacceptable that a responsible cyclist who was following the rules of the road be killed because of the negligent actions of one driver. This is a reminder that we urgently need proper cycling infrastructure in Toronto, so that people can feel safe when riding their bikes."

This was exactly the reaction I was awaiting. Yes, it's unseemly and self serving to politicize a tragedy such as this, but the Union is a political organization and it is meant to serve its constituents; I'd consider it entirely appropriate that they would adopt this tack. Politicizing events and ideals should be its raison d'etre.

But Aidan's right: let's wait. Let's maintain the morale: pending further info or consultation, the TCU may yet come out swinging.

Not to change the topic, but:

"To wit, they can ride as responsibly and conscientiously as humanly possible, as the victim in this instance ostensibly was, and still wind up a red smear on the pavement. They should accept this fact: because of their vulnerability they are at the mercy of motorists' (ir)responsibility and (in)consideration. Better that they learn now that, to some drivers, their lives aren't worth a 2 second glance in a mirror."

I'd like to point out that the notion that even a glance in the mirror is enough is often wrong ... dead wrong (I know, that's not the point you are trying to make, but I do think this misconception is part of the problem).

Depending on how the mirror is adjusted and where the cyclist is, a driver can look in the mirror, not see anything, open the door ... then say "I don't know where s/he came from!"

Opening a door in traffic, because its something that people do everyday, seems like a completely safe thing to do. But, given the number of cyclists in the city, the width of the streets and traffic, it really isn't. It is one of those things that cyclists and drivers alike can get wrong and get away with it because everything has to line up wrong for someone to get doored.

But, when it happens, it can be very, very serious.

Next time you are riding along a line of parked cars, and you are about even with the back tire, imagine what you would do if someone swung their door open. It's a sobering thought that keeps me on my toes. And, teaching drivers the right way to open a door would go a long way towards reducing this hazard.

Obviously cycling and cyclists have a long way to go in Toronto. Let the price of gas go up my friends! Our lives, apparently, are worth less because, in this culture, the more resources you use, the more respect you get and the more your life is worth. Imagine if you opened a door into oncoming car traffic and someone broke a mirror? Fur would fly. There would be no talk of accidents. We can expect inane and nonsensical reporting from the Star and their "progressive" paper. We saw what they said this week about the new Bike Union, comparing it to a kite club. So, no surprises there. Let's just say that the Star had better be misreporting the Union's stand on this one, if they hope to garner any support from cyclists on the ground. I think we need a real Union that will stand up for real cyclists, the ones that are out there on the road in the rain and snow. I'm f*cking really angry about this. I agree the city must post signs. That's a good start. But this is clearly negligence on the part of the driver. Let them have their day in court. As if it isn't enough having to breathe the bad air cars create, we have to eat their doors too, and then, if they kill us, it's an accident. You should be pissed off! I am! Bloody pissed off!

Cyclists should be outraged about this.

Not just that a cyclists died, but that it is being treated as a mere "accident" and being written off as a "tragic set of circumstances" by our police.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

The city has run several campaigns to warn motorists about improperly opening a door into traffic. The province has a law specifically about this. The reason for both is that we already know that opening a door into a cyclist is an extremely dangerous action. And here, unfortunately, is proof of just how dangerous it is.

If I took out a gun and started shooting down the street and someone died I would be charged and held criminally responsible for the victim's death, even if the death was not as a result as a result of having been hit by the bullet, but by the car that drove over him after he was hit by the bullet. That the police don't see it this way when it happens to be a car door instead of a bullet is inexcusable.

Aiden said:

If you haven't sent your coin to the Bike Union yet, I suggest you wait like me to see what they do about this killing. If they pussy out, they're just another weak-tea cycling group that the police, drivers and the city can talk pretty to, and run down.

Come on Bike Union, surprise me (please!).

Yvonne was asking for charges, from http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2...

Yvonne Bambrick of the Toronto Cyclists Union said today charges should be laid in the death, and at least a fine levied to make a point to drivers that they need to watch more carefully for cyclists.
‘‘It has to set a precedent: You need to be looking. You need to do a full shoulder check,’’ Ms. Bambrick said.
‘‘It's an accident, and I understand that, but there needs to be some kind of repercussion.’’

It is the membership that will direct the approach to be taken by the Union. If you want a more aggressive approach than this to be taken by the Bike Union then you need to be a member in order to direct the board. The board will respond.

We also need to ask the Cycling Committee to bring TPS to account for not being more aggressive with their enforcement. Marge, Tammy, can at least one of you bring a copy of these comments to the next committee meeting to be put "on record." We need to let our councillors (know through this avenue as well) that cyclists are angry that the police allow motorists to kill cyclists on the streets without consequence.

All of us who are outraged should, at the very least, be sending off an email to their councillor to let him/her know that we are not happy about the way that the police have handled this homicide.

This is yet another tragic reminder that cyclists are not considered as important as those that drive bigger, more expensive vehicles. It is very puzzling that a man can innocently be riding along the street and somehow it is his fault that a door opens, that it is an unfortunate "accident" and that no one but he is responsible for his death. Imagine the reverse: that a cyclist killed a motorist getting out of her car . No one would dare say that it was the motorist's fault for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, that perhaps she should have squeezed out of the car door without getting in the way of the oncoming cyclist. What an uncivilized society we live in. Shouldn't it be everyone's right to be able to ride home safely without worrying about car doors opening and countless other hazards? Oh, and by the way, the only way to 100 percent ensure not being doored, is to ride in the middle of the car lane, all the time.Some of these cars have pretty wide doors when they suddenly swing open without warning.

Some people don't see this as a serious issue

http://ontariohighwaytrafficact.blogspot.com/2007/11/impro...

Least of all the police. Darren_S @ torontocranks.com takes the police to task over their clusterf*ck of a rationalization against pressing charges.

As reported in the National Post, a Sgt. Tim Burrows, concludes that the motorist looking but not seeing doesn't constitute negligence. Amazingly, neither does the motorist not looking at all!

‘‘If she [the driver] didn’t look, would that be negligence? It’d be very hard to label that as negligent,’’ said Sgt. Burrows.

Unbelievable! What a joke. Take heart though, the driver is "absolutely shaken". Apparently that's punishment enough.

My condolence goes out to the victim's family. it's a tragic incident. So what if the volvo driver was shaken. Who will provide for his family? who's going to cover his funeral expense? I got the a door prize from a cabby last year and he didn't offer any help and took off fearing that I would call the police. My left hand was busted up really bad and I spent most of year going to physiotherapy and the cost came out my pocket. The OHIP doesn't cover it. I always get this from the drivers: "why don't you get off the fu$%&king road and go ride in a park" Perhaps it will take a lot more dead cyclist before the city do something about it.

Rob:

To extend the analogy to our current discussion, I would expect an appropriate response to be "It is unacceptable that a responsible cyclist who was following the rules of the road be killed because of the negligent actions of one driver. This is a reminder that we urgently need proper cycling infrastructure in Toronto, so that people can feel safe when riding their bikes."

I guess I'm getting hung up on the fact that the Bike Union is made up entirely of volunteers, and not highly paid, trained, professional negotiators. I'm trying to figure out where to draw the line between being supportive of the volunteers versus setting the bar so low that the organization becomes irrelevant. You are absolutely right, though, that a stronger response is needed.

Sadness and anger are correct responses, but so is the participation in large events like some bike rides, and more importantly, the ARC memorial.
Beyond that, I'm supportive of what Yvonne's been saying - it is necessary to be alert and taking care including lights, and the faster you go, the further you can fly or tumble. We're all human and get distracted, just we cyclists are far more vulnerable to the consequences of distraction. So the CU is important, though I've been kinda hoping for more teeth on the Bloor thing, and less nice-nice to Mr. Heaps/City.
Because if cyclists are expecting the TCAC to truly push this, they may be disappointed. It was too badly gutted by the progressives alleging that the volunteers were what was holding back the Bike Plan; mere volunteers can't do as much as what can be done despite true caring; and sometimes moves - like setting up a Working Committee on Bloor - are directly thwarted by the Councillor Chair Heaps who's pushing the linepainting of a tepid and inadequate Bike Plan, even when the road is rubble as part of Wellesley is, and as other bike lanes in Mr. Rae's ward are, even before the Bloor mess.
Don't forget writing letters to newspapers folks - some get through, and emails to the City Councillors can't hurt either.
While the police can be arguably "carist", the province could act to boost the fines for doorings to max $5,000 or $10,000 + funeral expenses and loss of driving privileges IF they wanted to do something for cyclists beyond bike locking stands and bike racks.
Meanwhile, safe journies all. .

Opening of doors of motor vehicles

  1. No person shall,

(a) open the door of a motor vehicle on a highway without first taking
due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with
the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle;
-=-

Charges may be laid by a Justice of the Peace.

Anyone can take any person to court and charge them under HTA. Then it is up to the court to decide. The only possible loss is court costs.

Not a resident of Toronto, I would agree a "union" must fight for its members and insist a charge be laid.

Further to say the driver may have looked therefore is not going to be charged. Let us use the same reasoning when making a turn. You look and still a collision occurs. The blame is still placed on the driver making the turn.

Driver's also need to realize the speed of a bicycle. When a bicycle appears farther away, especially in those convex mirrors, a fast cyclists can come up very fast.

I think we in Canada have to start filling more civil suits as well.

Charges sought after car door death
'Penalty should reflect severity' of incident
Toronto Star, May 25
Laura Stone
Staff Reporter

Drivers who strike someone or something when opening their vehicle doors into traffic should be charged, says Yvonne Bambrick, assistant co-ordinator at the Toronto Cyclists Union.

"It's your vehicle, you should be responsible," Bambrick said.

Bambrick's comments were made with regard to the death of a 57-year-old cyclist on Thursday. The man, who had not been identified, died after he ran into an open car door and was hit by a cube van after he fell onto the road at Eglinton Ave. W., around 1 p.m.

"One must be held responsible for their actions. I don't know the specifics of this case, but I know the penalty should reflect the severity of what happened," she said.

"There needs to be some kind of repercussion when their action affects others the way hers did," she said, referring to the driver who opened the door of her parked car into the path of the cyclist – an action called dooring.

Staff Sgt. Andy Norrie, of Toronto Traffic Services, said no charges have been laid in Thursday's incident, but police were investigating.

He said it's possible the driver could be charged under Section 165 of the Highway Traffic Act which requires motorists to take "due precautions," so as not to endanger any other person or vehicle.

"If this investigation determines that that offence has occurred, then the appropriate charge will be laid," Norrie said.

There is also the possibility of a fine, ranging from $115 to $500.

Bambrick, who also plans Pedestrian Sundays in Kensington Market, said she doesn't think a fine is a strong enough penalty in this case.

Next Thursday, the Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists plans to organize a cycling memorial ride for the man, starting at 9 a.m. at Bloor St. W. and Spadina Ave.

http://www.nsc.org/research/odds.aspx
National Safety Council - Odds of dying page in 2004 in U.S.
Pedalcyclist 1 in 348,347
Car occupant 1 in 19,216
Not adjusted for what percentage of the population engages in the
activity, or for how long.
Assuming 80% of U.S. residents ride in a car, becomes 1 in 15,372.8 of
car occupants.
Assuming 20% of U.S. residents ride a bicycle, becomes 1 in 69,669.4
of bicycle riders.

yup....i ride defensively when it comes to parked cars....the last time someone opened a door infront of me on runnymede ,which has a designated bike lane,i yelled "hey,what the".......the driver told me to puck off.....he could care less.....you(the cyclist) are just an annoyance to guys like that.

When it comes to opening doors, I've skidded to a halt as drivers opened their doors. Most apologized; a few looked at me as though they hadn't realized that cyclists existed before.

As far as preventing the door prize, making sure you look to see if cars have a person in the driver's seat who might open the door helps. I usually try to look three cars or so ahead, and proceed cautiously if I see an occupant. But you can't always see a driver in a vehicle ahead, and even the best and most careful cyclist can't always determine a driver's intentions. In the end, the responsibility rests on the driver, or the passenger, to ensure they can open the door without endangering anyone.

Drivers need a lot more education. With that in mind, I made a little video with a few
careless drivers opening doors, I had to add some non door footage to make the 60 second limit for the toronto urban film festival. I hope it gets aired on the TTC so some occasional drivers will practice a bit more safety. That's unlikely but that's my contribution to improving the safety of cycling in the city.

The union has clarifiied its postion on the recent death of a cyclist on Eglinton, as Anthony has pointed out by posting the Star article.

http://www.thestar.com/News/GTA/article/429709 (Just so you don't have to look it up)

I think it is entirely fair to join or not join an organization based on its policies and actions. In fact, it is hard to understand what other basis there could be for membership. And this was definitely not a trivial matter. I think we can say with confidence that this was a case where an uncontroversial statement was made in a context that made it controversial. After all, as Annie D points out, we would all concur that being correct is not sufficient to be safe, and that cyclists should assume that drivers will do illegal and unsafe things.

But the reported death or serious injury of an individual cyclist is never the occasion for such statements. It is impossible for them to be taken merely as general advice for safe cycling. Instead they become statements about the specific cause of the cyclist's death.

Personally I think there are powerful psychological motivations for cyclists and motorists alike to believe that a dead cyclist was doing something wrong. On one hand it lets the motorists off the hook for endangering vulnerable road users. On the other, a cyclist gets to feel that they are not vulnerable to a similar fate and can continue to ride without fear.

Theoretical speculations aside, I think Ms. Bambrick's statements on Sunday mean that it is time to join the bike union. I am going to do it today.

http://bikeunion.to/join

Clearly the driver that caused the fatal crash last week is 100% at fault but I can't understand any discussion around how to ride safely in the door zone. It always shocks me when I'm stopped at the side of the road in my car how many cyclist pass by inches from my mirror trusting that I won't open the door. The only safe way to ride in the door zone (such as when moving to the front of the line at a red light) is when you are moving slowly enough that you would either be able to stop or at least not be hurt if a door were suddenly hurled open in front of you. Travelling at 30kph you are going approximately 2 car lenghts every second and there is just no way to be able to look in the back window to check for occupants of cars as you pass and even if that were possible you still wouldn't have time to shoulder check and then veer out into traffic if you did see anyone in a stopped car.

The safest place to ride is far enough out into the road that you are out of range of the doors and only moving towards the curb when there is a long enough open stretch that you can move over and let cars pass before moving back into the roadway before passing more parked cars. I find that most drivers understand this behaviour and other than the odd a-hole every couple of months don't object to me riding this way as I train and commute more than 10,000km around the GTA each year. Sometimes the right of way needs to be taken rather than passively waiting for it to be granted by passing motorists but whatever you do stay out of reach of those doors!

The only way we could have space for cyclists to not have to ride in the door zone is to remove traffic lanes, or remove parking.

On roads, like Eglinton, that only have four lanes, that can only mean the removal of parking.

That's fine my me; but concidering how easliy councillors cave to a few businesses:
see http://www.world19.com/bikes.htm
I don't think that will be happening anytime soon.

Traffic conditions and infrastructure may necessitate riding in the door zone (e.g. heavy but fast traffic next to parked cars on a streetcar line). There is also a question of skill and athletic ability; perhaps some cyclists are able to merge into a steady stream of traffic travelling at 40 km/h, but most aren't. I don't think it is very likely that you never go into the door zone, unless you like waiting for breaks in traffic or sidewalk surfing.

Within the door zone, there is no "safe speed," as an occupant of a motor vehicle can open their door into you regardless of what speed you happen to be going.

There are of course techniques a cyclist can use to increase their safety in the door zone, but the door opener is the one with the responsibility not to harm anyone.

No, I disagree. Streets like Bloor and Eglinton with 4 lanes work quite well for cycling when there are parked cars on the street because the parked cars don't take up a full lane and it is possible to ride along the dashed white line out of reach of the parked car doors and leaving enough foom for the cars to pass on your left.

Cyclist must however refuse to ride in the door zone. If the street narrows or a wide parked vehicle such as a truck is coming up the cyclist must move left into the travel lane blocking cars from behind from passing until it is safe to move to the right again without going into the door zone. It is generally easy to do this by pulling left as soon as the rear bumper of an overtaking car has passed you after shoulder checking to make sure that there is room (watch out for trailers) because even with tailgating drivers there is generally more than enough room between the cars for a bike.

What I'm advocating is taking the lane when it's necessary for safety but otherwise moving over to let faster vehicles pass and get on with their day as opposed to taking the lane on a point of principle which some cyclists seem to do which unnecessarily aggrevates drivers.

"Streets like Bloor and Eglinton with 4 lanes work quite well for cycling when there are parked cars on the street because the parked cars don't take up a full lane and it is possible to ride along the dashed white line out of reach of the parked car doors and leaving enough foom for the cars to pass on your left."

Derek, you and I must bike on different Bloor and Eglinton! Yes, parked cars don't take up a full lane, but the lanes on these streets are not wide enough to do what you've described. It is possible to be on the outer edge of the door zone which reduces your chances of being hit, but if someone flings the door wide open, you're still going down.

I think Derek's comment reflects (and he can correct me if I'm wrong) the experience of someone who is fit enough to maintain 30 - 40 km/k for more than a quick burst. Given the speed of traffic on most busy Toronto streets, that's fast enough to either keep up with traffic or at least not hold it up so much that people get hostile.

I can usually manage that (assuming its not uphill) and find the method Derek describes works fine. It's also pretty easy at that pace to pull into a gap in traffic to pass some parked cars, pull right when there is space to let some traffic past, and still have enough momentum to catch the next gap when a new line of parked cars approaches.

That said, not everyone is comfortable making such a move. That difference (at least to me) goes a long way in explaining a vastly different perception of cycling in this city.

Most of my commuting is from Mimico through Mississauga and I generally take Queen if I'm heading into the city so perhaps my memory as to how much of Bloor and Eglinton is rideable between the traffic lane and door zone is letting me down (Queen is definately not wide enough although Lakeshore is) but my point is the same. Don't ride in the door zone at more than ~10kph so that if you do hit a door you won't be seriously hurt. If you are squeezed into the door zone, push your way out into traffic to get out of it. Maybe I'm just hyper sensitive about doors because in the last 20 years of cycling the only two accidents that I have had have both involved hitting doors although luckily it was only my bikes that got wrecked. I completely agree that it is the driver's fault 100% if they fling a door in front of a cyclist, a cyclist has the abiltiy to ride out of the door zone or slowly through the door zone to greatly decrease their own risk and we need to take responsibility for our own safety and do that.

Tone is correct. I'm a racer and can probably accelerate more quickly and hold speed better than most cyclists even on my commuting bike. Why don't more cyclists just take up racing?

Seriously, Tone is correct that differences in fitness go a long way to explaingin why it is so hard for cyclists to work together and be effective at changing public policy rather than remaining a fragmented group that can't agree with one another compared to drivers who have the playing field levelled by the design specs of their cars. I'm not sure what the answer is to bring us together.

is made by Tone and Derek. Unlike motor vehicles that are, essentially, equal in their capacity to achieve and maintain legal speeds, there is a huge disparity between cyclists fitness---and therefore---ability to merge with motoring traffic. Yet, the contention by the speedier cyclists seems to be that they don't want to inconvenience motorists by slowing them too much.

While I am an experienced cyclist and long-time commuter, I am not the speediest guy on the roads. Even still, I take the lane through stretches where it is either not possible to or dangerous to move right for fear of being in the dreaded door zone. If motorists have to slow up behind me, so be it. The way I see it is they sometimes have to slow up behind semi's, street-cleaners, back-hoes and other construction vehicles, so they can slow up behind me. On the occasion where a driver says something to me, I remind them that I don't slow up subways, bicycles, pedestrians or scooters and they're welcome to consider those options. After all, they don't need such a large vehicle transporting one or two people. But, I rarely have someone complain.

My strategy for streets like Bloor is to ride a foot outside the door zone and that means riding the dotted line or just to the left of it. It seems to have worked. In 28 years of riding Toronto's streets, I have yet to be doored.

carbontax wrote:

I think it is entirely fair to join or not join an organization based on its policies and actions. In fact, it is hard to understand what other basis there could be for membership.

This is a sensitive issue for me. I'm involved in an organization that advocates in a different area and where the most active volunteers are those who have the most at stake. These are often very vulnerable families who are already extremely busy dealing with personal situations, and the organization could really benefit from the support and strength in numbers gained from families with less demanding situations. When people ask me "Should I join? Why should I pay for the membership - what will I get?" or say "I joined once but they didn't organize enough meetings and the newsletter wasn't very useful" well, it drives me batty.

Joining an all-volunteer advocacy group is not like joining a health club. There is no they who is getting paid to provide you a service. Members who don't volunteer have no right to complain about the work done by members who volunteer. If you don't like the direction the organization is taking, then become involved and change the direction.

So you don't like the organization's policies, but don't have the time or inclination to become involved? If the issue is important to you, seriously think about the impact of withholding your membership just because you don't fully support the direction the organization is taking. Advocacy groups are fluid - their effectiveness can change overnight with a change in volunteer base or funding. The bike union is a very young organization and if the biggest bike geeks (um, yeah, those of us who actually spend time reading and posting on a cycling website) aren't willing to support it to get it off to a strong start, it could wither away to nothing before it ever finds its legs, and then where does that leave us? So join the union, make your voice heard, volunteer if you can, and if it still doesn't reflect your views in a couple of years, then you can call it quits.

Stepping off soapbox with apologies. (I did warn you that this was a sensitive area.)

The Union was going to catch flack no matter what. It is unprepared to respond because it is so new and if they did not it would leave people asking why not. I think you need to give them some time before they can effectively respond to issues like these. I think one or two months is reasonable, after that they will have to deal with a lot of frustrated cyclists.

Yvonne did do a killer job on CFRB this morning explaining why cyclists end up in the door zones.

With respect to the volunteer comment above, I do not know if I buy the assertion that volunteer's deserve a free pass simply because they are "volunteers'. There is some responsibility and accountability involved, just do not know where the line should be drawn. Probably depends too on who you claim to represent.

What if I had casually allowed my bicycle to roll out onto the street on its own where it went through the windshield of a police car and killed the driver? Would no charges be laid? Would it just be "an accident"?

Maybe it would help if you looked up the definition of the word "accident"?

A good letter in today's Toronto Star. I'm sure one of many that were sent in:
http://www.thestar.com/comment/article/431945

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

May 28, 2008 04:30 AM

Re:Cyclists' union calls for charges after car door death
May 25

Why do the Toronto police have the option of not enforcing the Highway Traffic Act when a cyclist is killed by a motorist opening a car door? While there may be mitigating circumstances, that is for a judge to decide.

The law specifies, "No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on a highway without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle."

In the severely carbon-constricted world we are entering, we need to get as many people on bicycles as possible. This law needs to be enforced for them to feel safe.

Michael Drainie, Toronto

I have never been doored. This is because I refuse to drive in the door zone. I always take the lane. Car drivers don't like it; so be it. I'm still alive and breathing, and not dead.

I strongly urge everyone else to do the same. I want to live in a city in which car drivers are used to bicyclists routinely taking the lane.

If she'd killed a pedestrian "by accident" I am sure there would have been charges.
But who is cyclist? Just another misfit of the car-dependent culture.
The Volvo lady should at least loose her right to drive for life.
The government is a business operation, cops are its enforcement arm. Cyclists do not contribute economically so they are not important, that is why you don't see charges against drivers, and bike theft is prolific with impunity.

Injury and death from collision with an opened car door is not only preventable, but a reminder that many drivers just don't care about anything outside the vehicle.

Sadly what is needed is a wake-up call to drivers. Imagine instead if the driver was struck by the fast moving bike and injured or killed. Not only would this make headlines, but serve as warning to drivers that they need to watch out, if only for their own safety.

I am a cyclist who once had a close call with a an opening car door. I have since promised myself that if such a thing were to become unavoidable, I'm not going to be thrown into moving traffic, but over or into the parked cars. Unfortunately to accomplish that requires me to steer my bike towards the open door frame, which will likely result in serious injuries to the person in the car.

In other words, to avoid my own injury or death, I'm going to have to risk killing the person opening the door.

Hopefully, that will never happen as I am fairly vigilant about looking into the parked cars for human shapes and movement, but with the plethora of tinted windows and windowless vans, it is impossible to predict all situations.

I'm sure the Critical Mass rides will be much more animated because of this.

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20080209/pe...

Pedestrian guilty of wearing dark clothes in a crosswalk, another for crossing a street where a pedestrian pathway crosses it without the benefit of a crosswalk or other pedestrian signal as this would inconvenience motorists?

Sorry Supersuminal. The police figure anyone not in a motorvehicle is of little importance.

...so out came the camera.

A ghostly memorial marks the victim's point of passing. Here Eglinton has three lanes eastbound, with the curbside one given over to parking, and two lanes going west, again with on-street parking.

I'm uncertain as to the precise juncture of the cyclist's dooring, I wonder if it's an issue anyway. The following three photos: a) sans cyclist; b) avec cyclist; and c) another with a cyclist were taken at the intersection of Braemar and Eglinton looking east. They give an idea of the tolerances involved. Click on the 'original' for the large version.

When I heard about the death I emailed the Mayor and the City Councillors on the police Services Board. I received this response today from the Mayors Office. I also included my original letter.

Dear Mr. Juliusson,

Thank you for your email letter.

I appreciate you taking the time to write.

I will be sure to share your concerns and sentiments with the Mayor.
I have also forwarded a copy of your correspondence to the Office of the Chief for his staff's review and response.

Best.
Joanne Miller

David Juliusson 5/30/2008 5:03 PM >>>

To Mayor Miller:

It is with great sadness I read about the death of a cyclist on May 22. My sympathies go to his family. I also sympathize with the driver. It will be a hard thing to live with for her.

I am appalled by the statements made by Sgt. Tim Burrows on the accident. He doesn't want charges brought because the driver is shaken. He stated "it is difficult for a driver to see a cyclist even if they do look." He implied that it is cyclists responsibility for their own safety.

According to the Highway Act, opening the doors of parked vehicles are forbidden without taking due precautions to ensure that this act will not interfere with the moment or endanger any other person or vehicle. The drivers act knocked a man into the street where he was killed. That to me is definitely interference.

Ironically, Mayor Miller, two days earlier you made a speech at the launch of the Toronto Cycling Union proclaiming your support for cycling and cycling related issues. As a member of the Police Services Board you and the other members should be outraged by a comment like Sgt Burrows made.

What is sad is he is reflecting how the police deal with car/bike crashes. To most bike activists, getting hit by a car door is referred to as a door prize. I have had one personally in 1992. As I lay on St. Clair St. the motorist sped off. A pedestrian got the licence number, called the police and then left. I was till in shock. When the police came an hour later, they refused to take a report, saying they felt sure the driver felt "sorry". I went through physio on my knee and have a scar. I lived. I honestly thought after all the positive comments recently that this attitude was a thing of the past. Or were the speeches at the Bike Union launch and Bike to Work just speeches?

Like many cyclists, I clearly remember Councillor Ford's comments on bicycling. In 2007 , stated, "I can't support bike lanes. Roads are built for buses, cars, and trucks. My heart bleeds when someone gets killed, but it's their own fault at the end of the day." Sgt. Burrows message strikes me as something similar. That is sad

Yours sincerely,
David Juliusson

I received a response from the Police to my email on the cyclist killed. I would like to share it and will give my views at the end. I hope to get comments from others on this.

Dear Mr. Juliusson,

I am writing in response to your e-mail correspondence of June 10, 2008
concerning the death of a cyclist on Eglinton Avenue on May 22, 2008.

In your correspondence you express concern with the reported comments of
Sgt. Tim Burrows that seem to imply that the driver of the parked car
was not negligent and did not bear any responsibility for what
ultimately happened to the cyclist. The Toronto Police Service has
received several letters similar to yours expressing unhappiness with
what Sgt. Burrows was quoted as saying.

In order to properly respond to the concerns of the earlier letter
writers I spoke with Sgt. Burrows to determine if he was quoted
correctly or if his words, as reported, were taken out of context. In
fact, he was responding to a reporter who asked him if the driver of the
parked car would be charged with the criminal offence of Criminal
Negligence Causing Death. This is an entirely different and more
serious charge than the Highway Traffic Act offence of Open Vehicle Door
Improperly (HTA s. 165), which the other letter writers thought he was
referring to.

Please be assured that the Toronto Police Service takes the safety of
all road users, cyclists, motorists and pedestrians alike, very
seriously. By way of example, the Service is launching a safe cycling
campaign starting June 16 which will consist of enforcement and
awareness initiatives designed to reduce the incidence of cycling
accidents and injuries.

Finally, the accident of May 22 which took the life of the cyclist is
still being actively investigated and the public will be notified if and
when charges are laid.

Thank you for taking the time to write and share your concerns with us.

Sincerely,

Inspector Stu Eley
Executive Officer to Chief William Blair

This letter says nothing. It is an official response that hopes I will go away and it can be quietly swept under the rug. Hence the active investigation. What needs to be investigated? A car door was opened. It hit a cyclist who was driven into traffic where he was killed by a cube van that had no way of avoiding him. It is straightforward. Why does it need a three week investigation? Make it sound good and it goes away. This was what many of us were hoping was a thing of the past. Mayor Miller gave a great speech on bike safety at the launch of the Bike union. If this letter is any indication, the speech was just that. The Police are not going to change their actions just because the Mayor gave a speech, even if he is a member of the Police Board. The cyclists death is not even worth a $75 fine.

They did give information on the Bike Safety blitz starting June 16. Does this mean they will enforce car parking in the bike lanes or other offences? No. If other years are an indication, it means going after bikes who don't stop at stop signs properly or with no bell. Be careful out there. The cyclist death is worth $75 if the police conclude their investigation. Not having a bell costs you $90. Mind your manner for a week and then we'll be back to being ignored.

Why exacty as a community are we quietly tolerating this? Why, as a group, are we simply writing letters saying "this is really bad, I wish you would stop?" Of course the letters need to be written but any other life or death issue would have disruptive people in the streets on a regular basis until something is changed.

What if DUI were enforced this way? What if street racers got $75 tickets when they crashed into taxi drivers?

Why are we so convinced that our power is in the hands of the mayor, the city council, or the parking authority and we need only keep asking nicely and someday they'll deliver? Sure, this may well be true if we are in it for our grandchildren but if we're in it for the safety of us or our children then we need to work not just in city hall but we need to work the media and out in the streets. Our power as a group was clearly demonstrated (perhaps, some may say in a misdirected way) on May 30th when the Gardiner was taken. This kind of action, albeit with perhaps a clearer message, needs to be taken several times a month until real change is affected. Maybe Eglinton or Bloor need to be shut down a few times over the next few weeks with press releases sent to the media outlets clearly defining the motivation and the message.

Hey, if there's a better way, or a way in which the path we've taken as a community up to now will start bringing about real change I'm all for hearing it but otherwise it is frustrating to see that as a group we're not really sticking together except for a few hundred of us on the last Friday of the month and even then (purposefully) without an agenda or motive.

Seriously, I'm not saying this in a sarcastic way - I'm not an experienced activist, nor am I very experienced with Toronto politics but someone explain to me here or offline (toddtyrtle at quirky nomads dot com (quirkynomads one word - trying to avoid spam) what the short and long term plan and expectations are for affecting change are. Because at the moment it seems like the plan is to ask nicely and if that doesn't work then maybe we could ask nicely again. When is enough enough?

Sgt. Burrows, before the completion of any investigation, determined that there will be no criminal charges in the matter. It just seems like a formality now to see if the driver should face HTA charges. I have always viewed that thinking as putting the cart before the horse.

Effecting change in widely held and deeply entrenched perspectives is a daunting and, often, a prolonged process. And when the majority of those agitating for change are volunteers with a multiplicity of priorities and schedules, staging prolonged and coordinated initiatives is difficult.

Remember that our current auto-centric culture has benefitted by 75+ years of intensive public and private investment: the roots are deep, the creed embraced without much thought; it reflects and encourages the materialistic, consumeristic ethos that has served as the foundation of our, and our parents', and their parents' parents' world.

The beast we're ultimately up against extends to almost every aspect of our lives and turns over billions, if not trillions, of dollars annually -- it's Big Business writ large. And its still riding a tide of cultural inertia, so it's unrealistic to expect this ship to drastically change course quickly -- even if it was inclined to, which it clearly isn't. When I was a kid DUI was literally no big deal. It took a generation of campaigning to change the attitude, stigma and punishment associated with drunk driving.

On another thread concerning the Bloor/Yorkville makeover Hamish Wilson weighed in. In my hand I've a copy of the Toronto Bike Plan, published in 2001. Hamish is listed among the contributors to that plan. That was seven years ago, and he's been involved in bicycle activism for much longer than that. This is a huge sacrifice.

What would you say to an effort requiring of you countless hours spread over a decade, all unpaid, all without a guarantee that your objectives wouldn't be rejected out right, diluted, or perverted, both from within and without the 'cycling community' -- indeed with the probability that they would? If your response would be to pass, would you not be 'quietly tolerating' the problem? I'd say yes, but damn me for faulting you for it, for wanting to spend time with your wife, kids, friends, or whomever.

I mention this only to prompt you to reexamine the contention that an unacceptable status quo is indicative of apathy or resignation among the cycling 'community'. Lackluster results are not necessarily a corollary of lackluster efforts. Like you, I'm a novice to the activism/political scene, but my limited exposure has taught me that much already. There are many good people, giving of themselves, trying to improve matters.

Further, the notion of a unified 'community' of activists with a consensus on goals and methods is misguided. Like any true community, the velo-sphere embraces disparate, often contrary elements, each pursuing their own agenda using their own methods. While such fractiousness may weaken the message, it also draws a wider net, contributing toward a more inclusive advocacy with more comprehensive results. So don't expect the 'community' to march in lockstep, we're all individuals here whether we ride bikes or not.

So what's the best way to proceed? Maintaining pressure on all fronts at all times; contributing when you can if you can. By all means Todd, join in the effort, but don't be discouraged when, deciding the time and effort required of a sustained effort is too high, or that its methods don't fit their temperament, some opt out.

In lieu of criminal charges, what I'd like to see in this case is a civil suit (definitely against the motorist, possibly against the city), but there's no hope of that without money or the cooperation of the victim's family (whose identity has not been published to my knowledge).

Protests and mass rides are fine indeed, but nothing talks louder than money in this world. Hit 'em where they feel it -- right in the pocketbook! -- if you want them to change. Happily, the increasingly tenuous economics of the auto-age is doing much of the heavy hitting for us. Taking a page from the ACLU's program book (south of the border), legal activism is a strategy I hope the TCU eventually embraces.

Very well put, Luke, and I thank you for that. Like I said, I'm coming to the game late, and have a fair bit of energy (which I haven't been giving for years and years. And I apologize to anyone I may have inadvertently offended with the impression I thought folks were apathetic.

As for the financial side of things, absolutely, money is a major motivator and where we can, I think we need to leverage that aspect. However, I hesitate to bring up comparison to civil rights movements, revolutions, or other far bigger (and in many cases more urgent) causes than this one, but in many cases, the change was affected not by money but by determinaton, sacrifice, and organization.

And believe me, I know about the time (and space) constraints. At this point, for all my agitation, I won't even be back in Toronto for a few weeks yet and have been out of town since February.

So hopefully, once I get back in town (and hopefully don't get sent somewhere else for a while), I can actually contribute more than a few angry (but at the same time very idealistic) rants. Maybe I'll see some of you soon.

Thanks again for the patiently delivered dose of perspective.

Toronto Police Service
News Release

Traffic fatality #20/2008, Update, Charge laid

Friday, June 27, 2008 - 3:11 PM
Traffic Services
416-808-1900

On Thursday, May 22, 2008, at 1:12 p.m., police responded to a personal injury collision at Eglinton Avenue West/Avenue Road.

It is alleged that:

  • a 57-year-old man was cycling east on Eglinton Avenue West, passing a line of parked cars on the south side of the street,
  • an occupant of one of the cars, a woman, 43, opened the driver's door,
  • the cyclist struck the door, lost control of his bicycle, fell onto the roadway and was struck by a truck.

The cyclist was taken to hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. This is the first cycling fatality of 2008.

Traffic Services, in consultation with the City of Toronto’s Prosecutors' Office, have laid a charge of “Open Vehicle Door Improperly” under the Highway Traffic Act.

An information laying out the charge has been filed with Old City Hall Courts.

Constable Wendy Drummond, Public Information, for Sergeant Tim Burrows, Traffic Services

There are no files attached to this release.

Better late than never. Doubt it will stick, but throw enough at drivers and one will, and then maybe they'll back the ^&%$ off! Any driver troll who wants to respond, let me answer in advance to any argument you have: bite me.

Open a vehicle door improperly is $110 fine. Its the equivalent of being charged with not having a bell on your bicycle. BFD.

I may be wrong but this sort of charge, if it sticks, can really hurt someone when it comes to their insurance rates in the future.

What does this do relative to civil action? Can the individual be sued for their negligence?

How about the city? There have been cases in other areas where a city has been found at fault for failing to provide adequate infrastructure. Could a case be made against the city that failure to provide adequate cycling infrastructure contributed to the unsafe condition that created the accident?

While I can appreciate that you felt threatened by the car door, after you avoided the car door it ceased to be an emergency. The appropriate number to call would be 416-808-2222. Please don't tie up dispatchers that may need to respond to actual emergencies.

Tanya the cranky.

This was the first cycling death in Toronto. It is still the only one.

As far as I know, not a lawyer, but the driver does not have to be charged with negligence to be found liable in civil court. In fact this charge, although minor, basically shows that the driver was at fault in the accident by violating the HTA. If the family decides to sue the driver it should be an easy win if the driver is found guilty of this offense.

I am glad that some charges were laid. It took the public writing the Mayor and the Chief of Police to get it taken seriously. Finally an announcement. The Public Information Officer for the Public Information Officer who felt no charges should be laid issued the statement that a $110 fine will happen.

Killing a cyclist is the only way in our society to do so and not face serious consequences. If I accidently fired a legally registered handgun, I would face criminal charges. If I was carrying a butchers knife to my friends to help prepare dinner and it fell and hurt someone I could do jail time. Even if I drove my car and accidently killed someone I would be charged with vehicular homicide. For killing a cyclist? Charged with opening a door improperly and fined $110.

We are blaming the wrong people. Admittedly the police handled this case poorly. Charges are only being laid due to public pressure. The main problem lies with the province. The Highway Act needs to be changed so that seriously hurting or killing someone is a crime.

We need to contact our MPP's and write that we want stricter laws against bad motorists. When the cost of the fine for not having a bell is the same as killing somene, something is seriously wrong.

As I write this, there is a story in today's Toronto Star. Two men on a cross country ride to raise money for juvenile diabetes were killed by a motorist. No charges ave been laid.

i've been doored and almost got run over too, on queen near urbane. i was lucky that the car that almost ran me over was paying attention.

some disgusting indian man hit me with his door and kept calling me a bitch and then baby and stuff. i guess he couldn't really understand why i was freaking out on him. he was nasty. i knocked his phone out of his hand. i wanted to vandalize his car but i'd probably be charged for vandalism and he wouldn't be charged for anything. i'd have to lose my life first in order for it to be taken seriously, but apparently maybe only $110 worth. depending on your work that could be a days worth of work, even less. i believe that i am worth more than $110, and so was that poor man that was killed on eglinton.

people like that disgusting indian man think nothing of it, and take it upon themselves to exercise sexism and being a disgusting pig, but i almost lost my life and it wasn't that funny for me.

i was very fortunate. there should be laws against this. something should be done to punish drivers who open car doors on cyclists. there should be a nation-wide letter delivered to every drivers' license holder stating that it is a punishable offense, and the charges should be harsh and criminal-related, something that'll make them look like a total moron and give them not only demerit points but a criminal record, alongside a hefty fine and a large amount of financial compensation to the victim and his or her family. it's complete negligence. you get in more sh*t for running a red than you do for knocking a cyclist to the ground with your door. cops be laying the smack down on ticketing cyclists who ride on the sidewalk, but when we ride on the roads and get killed, no one gets in trouble, it's just an "unfortunate incident." that's BS, f*** them all.

it's outrageous. it makes me very sad too that this is the state of our city. something needs to be done. seriously. this is ridiculous.

I'm sure you wrote this in the heat of the moment, but the race of the man who opened the door had nothing to do with the story (the "disgusting indian" as you called him twice).

It comes off as fairly racist, in fact.

He may have been careless, ignorant and many other things, but the fact that he was Indian had nothing to do with it. Noting that he was, though, really does nothing to contribute to a sense of tolerance in this city.

Report the incidence. Hopefully, you took down the licence plate. Even if nothing comes of it, it is important that these incidences get reported if folks like the Cyclist Union are to have any ammunition for policy changes.

Get checked out by a doctor to make sure you don't have any injuries -- not to sound like an ambulance chaser, but if you have sustained any injuries (particularly stuff that might impact you for some time) you can take the gentleman in question to civil court.

Hope that you are ok!

RE: Education Campaign by Tone

Just opening that door slightly for the second verification is also a great way to warn oncoming cyclists that someone wants to exit. Cyclists are looking for doors that are about to open, and that little warning is enough to nudge them into a decision - merge with traffic, slow down, stop, etc.

So even if the driver doesn't see an oncoming cyclists (accidents DO happen, people), this technique is an extra layer of insurance that keeps everyone safe.

Wow aren't we cranky! I do agree that the car door shouldn't have been opened without the driver looking first. And as another person who replied to your letter pointed out...the race of the person is inconsequential.

Many times I've seen bike riders riding side by side or using improper arm signals (if one is even used). The bottom line is BOTH bike riders and car drivers should follow the current rules of the road AND respect each other. Yes accidents do happen, did the man even try to appologize or were you watching and anticipating what could happen? If you were in a car it would be considered DEFENSIVE driving. In this case it should be called DEFENSIVE riding.

One last thing....possibly people would take your comments more seriously if you knew how to use correct punctuation and English.

By the way this is coming from someone who has driven over a million miles without an accident.

LH points out that side by side riding is disrespectful. But if the lane is too narrow to share then riding in the center of the lane is defensive. Doing so side by side takes up less room than two cyclists in the middle of the lane one behind the other. It also makes it much more likely the driver will change lanes to pass than the single cyclist in the middle of the lane where they like to do the split lanes and buzz trick.

David Juliusson get a grip. I doubt letter writing had anything to with charges being laid. You even had your own letter printed on this blog which explained how the public information officer's comments were taken out of text. To say the police handled the case poorly seems far fetched. Accident, investigation, charges...seems like the police did their job.
How you can equate this accident to murder is nuts, unless you think the lady lined the victim up and cracked him with the door. Vehicular homicide...maybe you better go to the states where that charge actually is.
It seems like everyone thinks the police are out to get cyclists....ever watched cyclists? We deserve it. Maybe if we stopped at stop signs, red lights and went the right way on one way streets we might have more credibility arguing our concerns.
If the police laid the right charge then way to go...better to lay the right one and get a conviction that lay the wrong one and have nothing to show for it in the end.

Riding with a group and dominating a lane is generally the least stressful way to ride. That is, if you can take a lane and still leave a lane for others to pass in, and if that lane is too narrow to share with motorists.

Out here in South Etobicoke our family often rides this way, Jen and I on the outside, the kids closer to the curb, each kid beside either Jen or myself. We'll do this on Horner or on Evans (where it's four lanes) and even on Queen's Quay heading west to cross Spadina Ave, at least until the bike lane resumes. The only complaint that I've had is from a motorist who passed too close on the right -- from the right hand turn lane while talking o her cell phone -- who said that this manouvre was "dangerous" (but let's not mention anything about HER driving!!)

There is a by-law against side-by-side riding in Toronto but there's nothing in the HTA that forbids this, and a smillar bylaw has been fought against succesfully in Ottawa.

Our laws smiply suck. You can kill a person with your car and unless you're drunk or drive away the police are loathe to press signifigant charges, the procecution doesn't like fighting the charges in court, and the courts tend to far to lenient.

Paul, David is not so far fetched, the police/procecution would have to prove intent. This would be very dificult for the police/procecution because traditionally this actions has always been deemed an "accident" (how I hate that word.) Instead they write up a $110 ticket as the "Charge," it comes with two demerit points and a big rise in your insurance premiums.

The only other recourse available is for the family of the victim to sue, in civil court, for damages. The insurance would cover the settlement, and often there's an insentive to settle out of court.

If you don't have a car, but rather rent a car with insurance, you can murder a peson with minimal repurcussions. Just open your car door and thrown them under the wheels on an oncoming car or truck.. Stay, get your $110 "charge" and you're otherwise free and clear. All this because our laws suck.

It seems like everyone thinks the police are out to get cyclists....ever watched cyclists? We deserve it. Maybe if we stopped at stop signs, red lights and went the right way on one way streets we might have more credibility arguing our concerns.

And the "Asshole Of The Year Award" goes to...

Paul for arguing that police shouldn't investigate wrongful deaths of cyclists.

Regarding David Juliusson's comment:

"Killing a cyclist is the only way in our society to do so and not face serious consequences. If I accidently fired a legally registered handgun, I would face criminal charges. If I was carrying a butchers knife to my friends to help prepare dinner and it fell and hurt someone I could do jail time. Even if I drove my car and accidently killed someone I would be charged with vehicular homicide. For killing a cyclist? Charged with opening a door improperly and fined $110."

I think the issue here is that negligence needs to be fairly significant to trigger a criminal charge. I'm no lawyer, but I believe that the typical measure is the "reasonable person" rule: would a reasonable person know that their actions were negligent and could cause harm? If the answer is yes ... a charge can be laid, if not, it is an "accident."

In the case of firing a legally registered handgun ... if it was being handled in a grossly negligent way charges probably could be laid. But, if you accidently shot a buddy while hunting ... taking reasonable precautions ... perhaps not.

The difference between accident and criminality ... in the absence of intent ... lies in this threshold of negligence

Since the same standard is applied to traffic deaths, the issue here is that opening a door into traffic does not meet the reasonable person rule ... and frankly, probably should not, unless the HTA becomes very specific about the actions that need to be taken before swinging a door open (you can see my suggestion in this very thread). Without spelling it out, how could you distinguish between people who "took reasonable precautions" and missed a cyclist in their blind spot? Witnessess beyond the driver would be terribly hard to come by.

It would seem to be a very hard law to enforce.

With current laws, the best redress for these kinds of accidents is civil court (as it is for most traffic accidents) where the threshold for proof is lower.

Besides, no law will prevent an accident ... it merely outlines the punishment after the fact. I'd rather see a lot more education (it worked for seatbelts and smoking!) aimed at reducing accidents before they happened. If I die because someone doored me, it's not going to make my family that much happier that the person who did it gets charged ... I'll still be equally dead.

Tone wrote:

"Besides, no law will prevent an accident ... it merely outlines the punishment after the fact."

Kevin's comment:

Not true. Crashes are prevented in three ways:

  1. If the person who did the dooring is in jail, then she's certainly not going to be dooring anyone else until she gets out.
  2. When she eventually gets out of jail, odd are that she will consider the experience of being jailed to be somewhat unpleasant. Reflection upon the unpleasant nature of being jailed may lead her to refrain from dooring anyone else in the future.
  3. Other people may get the message that dooring results in significant jail time. This may lead them to refrain from dooring anyone else.

What about the kid in the backseat? We've got a "get out on the other side" rule, but kids are impulsive and need a lot training. Or maybe the junior passenger comes from a non-driving household and hasn't been trained. No education campaign, law, or punishment can make the door zone 100% safe. I'd prefer focusing on eliminating bikelanes and sharrows in the door zone, and making sure all drivers know that cyclists have the right to take the lane to stay out of the door zone on streets where there are no bikelanes.

Bicycle safety is all about policing drivers, just as it is for pedestrian and... driver safety. Duh. Yeah, you can police pedestrians and cyclists, but since damned few people are killed by being walked or ridden into (as objectionable as that is), we might want to the cops to go after the people in the heavy steel containers which commonly maim and kill. But WTF do I know?

I dunno, you know I just can't get into any excuses for the drivers. I mean they all make DAMN sure there are no cars coming before they open their door. They wait a couple seconds to make sure there are no cars coming out of their blind spot too.

Why can't they do that for cyclists?

Someone has already mentioned that education is necessary. I think they're quite right. Massive amounts of education is the only thing that is going to reduce dooring incidents.

Educate them with their pocket book, with fines, and demerit points that cost them insurance money. Nobody cares about anything else, because when someone is hurt or killed, it's 'an accident' even if they were on a cell, or didn't look.

Tone:

Besides, no law will prevent an accident ... it merely outlines the punishment after the fact. I'd rather see a lot more education (it worked for seatbelts and smoking!) aimed at reducing accidents before they happened. If I die because someone doored me, it's not going to make my family that much happier that the person who did it gets charged ... I'll still be equally dead.

The choice of your analogies undermines your argument: the varying successes of the seatbelt, anti-smoking, and for that matter drunk driving, campaigns are precisely due to their creeds being codified into law. Light up a butt in the wrong place costs 100+ dollars; employers not enforcing a smoke free workplace, thousands. A DWI conviction results at the very minimum in an automatic loss of driving privileges for a year AND a $600 fine -- this is independent of any resulting accident! To overstate my point let me completely embrace your logic: how about we repeal these superfluous statutes and embark on a comprehensive educational campaign to stamp out these scourges once and for all? ;-)

You can absolutely bet that if the penalty for dooring a cyclist would be an automatic 2 year license suspension and a $1000 dollar fine, it would cause motorists to amend their behavior forthwith. Period. A prime function of law is to modify behavior and coercion, though it can be complementary to education, often succeeds where the other fails.

The contention that no law will prevent an accident is only applicable if this dooring death is the culmination of a completely unpredictable set of circumstances. It was not. This and similar future outcomes are to be anticipated if the negligent conduct of motorists remains as it is and the law, by its insignificant penalties, broadcasts to all that the attendant injuries or deaths are of no consequence.

I should clarify ... my point was not that there shouldn't be legal penalties to discourage people from opening doors on cyclists. I agree wholeheartedly that having some kind of appropriate penalty in place makes a statement about how we -- collectively -- view that kind of behaviour.

And, I agree that non-smoking and seat belt statues played a significant role in the campaign to change people's behaviour.

What I was specifically responding to was David's call to treat the opening of doors as criminally negligent ... which goes far beyond what we did from a public policy perspective with, say, anti-smoking laws.

AnnieD's point is a very good one -- if you have infrastructure that puts people cycling and people getting out of their cars in dangerous proximity, you are creating a potentially fatal situation. Solving that issue will do a lot more for cyclist safety than throwing a few drivers into jail.

For me, what separates this issue from, say drinking and driving is that it is possible for a driver to do a shoulder check before opening their door and still not see a cyclist ... particularly when we are in their "blind spot": that zone very close to the rear quarter of the car where a cyclist may not been seen nor have much time to react to an opening door.

That means it is possible for a driver to act responsibly and still door a cyclist -- something I keep in mind every time I ride.

Your eloquent words Ben are truly a breath of fresh air. Apparently you have difficulties reading because in giving me your prestigious award you completely missed the point. I never argued that police should not investigate. All I said was they should lay the correct charge that will end in cinviction. Not lay the wrong charge that will be thrown out of the courts because it can't be proven.
I hope you cycle better than you read. If not, you are probably bringing enough attention to yourself to give us all a bad name.

Tone:

For me, what separates this issue from, say drinking and driving is that it is possible for a driver to do a shoulder check before opening their door and still not see a cyclist ... particularly when we are in their "blind spot": that zone very close to the rear quarter of the car where a cyclist may not been seen nor have much time to react to an opening door.

That means it is possible for a driver to act responsibly and still door a cyclist -- something I keep in mind every time I ride.

I don't follow. If a motorist changes lanes, cutting off and consequently killing a motorcyclist because he failed to see him, i.e., the rider was in the blind spot, the errant motorist would still be culpable. The law considers him so; and contingent upon the outcome of the transgression he could be charged with a host of infractions including criminal negligence causing death.

This is the whole point in being licensed to drive a motor vehicle: you're supposedly instructed about hazards such as blind spots in the vetting process; to disregard them while operating a car IS by definition to be negligent in one's responsibility to manage the machine in a safe manner. There is nothing ambiguous about this, nor should there be.

So let's stop apologizing for motorists who "act responsibly" and still kill cyclists. Let's stop passing the buck round and round, obfuscating the issue with extenuations such as deficient infrastructure and minimizing the responsibilities of the motorist.

I'm on no quest for vengeance here; just a mechanism that leaves no room for equivocation, that clearly demarcates the price of transgression. I think it's imperative in rectifying the situation. Sure the motorist may be inattentive or make a mistake, etc. and cause a fatal accident but guess what? If he was or did, he is negligent and depending on the outcome perhaps criminally so.

There is nothing new in what I'm espousing; drunk driving laws exemplify such a model. They are concise: no matter if you're operating your vehicle in a more considerate and precise manner than your fellow motorists, many of whom shouldn't be licensed to operate a lemonade stand, if you blow over the legal limit you lose your license. End of story. Even if to all outward appearances you've done nothing wrong, it's still no if, ands, or buts. Few would argue against the wisdom of such a law because its greater purpose and effect is easily apprehended: it stigmatizes drunk driving and broadly deters related "accidents". Why not the same approach to dooring?

What's confounding in this case is that the highway traffic act simultaneously prohibits this type of behavior by motorists then dismisses it with a negligible fine. That's the disconnect that should be addressed.

Luke said:

"I don't follow. If a motorist changes lanes, cutting off and consequently killing a motorcyclist because he failed to see him, i.e., the rider was in the blind spot, the errant motorist would still be culpable. The law considers him so; and contingent upon the outcome of the transgression he could be charged with a host of infractions including criminal negligence causing death."

Agreed. I think the problem here is I'm (perhaps incorrectly) drawing a distinction between infractions under the HTA (which result in fines and loss of driving license) and criminal offense ... which can result in jail and other loss of freedoms.

Certainly, the law as it stands charges people under the HTA and can include fines and loss of license. Whether or not there should be stiffer penalties for the improper opening of doors under the HTA ... not sure. But, I'm fairly certain that the HTA infractions are about the act ... not the consequence. So whether you open a door and injure someone or kill someone doesn't make any difference under the HTA (I think ...)

Criminal code acts are about intent and consequence. If there is gross negligence, a traffic accident can become a criminal code offence (negligence causing death), but the threshold for that is fairly high.

You seem to be advocating for stiffer fines under the HTA, which seems quite reasonable and an integral part of any larger education campaign. David (who I was responding to earlier) seemed to be advocating for a lower threshold for negligence (i.e. making a dooring become a criminal code offense) which I thought was problematic.

Again, I know just enough about the law to be dangerous in conversation, so if I'm wrong about the nature of the HTA or the criminal code ... well then all of this might be a lot of hot air.

While parked early this morning, I took a look back to figure out how big a blind spot there is when checking for cyclists and I don't know what people are referring to here. It's not like when a person is driving and can only look back by way of the rear view mirrors, so what's this blind spot that everyone is talking about? Now I'm usually a front seat passenger (I don't drive) so one thing I didn't realize is the impact that larger cars behind you can have on your view. We had an SUV behind us, so we couldn't see anything further back than 3 cars (which would have been less had the SUV been closer). That's mere seconds for any bike traveling at a good speed.

To the person who said that drivers look for cars but not bikes when opening their doors - do cars even drive in the door zone??? Oh wait - of course cars don't drive in the door zone - that's where all the bike lanes are! (I know I sound like a broken record on this but it really really irritates me).

When I made that comment, I was thinking of all the roads WITHOUT a bike lane that cyclists must use. In such cases, parked cars are generally looking for cars - it's what your instincts are honed to do at the moment.

The problem is, drivers must be sure to start including cyclists in their rule book. Just like a person crossing the street must look for motorists AND cyclists, etc etc.

The whole point is, cyclists need to have a high priority in the social consciousness too.

I'm normally a pretty easygoing person, but the whole 'bike lane in the door zone' issue brings out the snarky in me.

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