Cyclist hit on Coxwell

View Larger Map

The Toronto Police are reporting (PDF) that a cyclist was hit and injured last night while riding on Coxwell Ave., north of Gerrard St.

On Thursday, May 7, 2009, at 11:07 p.m., police responded to a call for a personal injury collision on Coxwell Avenue, north of Casci Avenue.
It is reported that:

  • a 19−year−old man was riding his bicycle north on Coxwell Avenue, in the right lane,
  • a Safari van was travelling north on Coxwell Avenue, in the left lane,
  • the cyclist turned left into the path of the van and was hit.

The cyclist was taken to hospital with life−threatening injuries.

The cyclist was not wearing a helmet but was wearing headphones, which may have limited
his ability to sense his surroundings.

Although the cyclist is at the age where helmets are not mandatory for cycling, the use of one
has been shown to reduce head injuries when worn properly.

The story has been picked up by a few media outlets today too:

The Toronto Star reports that, "His chest was crushed and he suffered a closed-head injury to his brain. He was taken to St. Michael's Hospital in life-threatening condition, but he is now expected to survive."

A couple of issues with this case are coming up now. First of all, the media are jumping all over the fact that the cyclist may have been wearing an iPod when he was hit. This may have been a contributing factor to the collision if he did not hear the van before turning in front of it without looking. A poster on the ARC mailing list pointed out, "I would like to know if the fracken driver of the van was listening to his stereo?"

Also, the police report states, "Although the cyclist is at the age where helmets are not mandatory for cycling, the use of one has been shown to reduce head injuries when worn properly." To be fair, the helmet won't prevent a CRUSHING CHEST INJURY, nor will it prevent someone from trying to turn left across the path of a van, or a van running down a cyclist from behind. The police clearly do no understand what cycling safety is actually about.

The cops are still looking for witnesses to get all the details of this collision pieced together. I don't want to judge anyone here, but there are a few things that should be mentioned:

  • It's probably not a good idea to be listening to music when you're riding your bike. Use all of your senses and stay alert.
  • Always check for traffic when you change lanes, no matter if you're a cyclist or motorist. As cyclists, we have alot more to lose if we screw up. As motorists, you have the responsibility of piloting a large, heavy, potentially deadly machine.
  • To the media: Don't be so quick to blame the cyclist for every collision. The police are still investigating, and there's a possibility that the cyclist was making a legal left turn when the inattentive motorist hit him from behind.

No matter what the result of the investigation is, I hope the cyclist returns to full health quickly. Let's all be careful out there.


Stuff like this comes up and forgive me if I'm a bit jaded, but based on what info do we know that he turned left when he got hit?

A driver passing too close to a cyclist and hitting him from behind very easily turns into "the maniac turned left into me!" when the driver tells his version of the story and the cyclist is in an ambulance with life threatening injuries and can't offer his version. Lord knows all of us who've ever been buzzed by a car can pretty much assume that if we got hit the driver's argument would be that "they turned left into me!"

Not as though you're supposed to leave adequate room when overtaking cyclists or anything...

I don't know about this whole 'turning left abruptly' thing. It does seem a little too convenient. Does it appear odd to anyone else that all the blame for this collision seems to be placed on the cyclist? There are so many possible factors regarding the driver of the van that could have played a part in this. I hope this guy's alright, brain injuries are no picnic...

I'm the brother of the driver of the safari. I must say I commend him for the actions he took. he was given the choice and did his best to avoid the collision with the cyclist , but could only move so far to the left. he even drove into the oncoming traffic lane to avoid the cycleist comming with in inches of a head on collision with a car containing three younge women. sometimes your choices are limited
and the speed of which an incedent happens is beyond your control. I do hope and wish for a full recovery for the cyclist. I can say that my brother is devistated with the potential reality of posibly taking someones life , and is stuck with having to relive that moment , and bear that burdon for the rest of his prayers go out to the young cyclist and his family.

I felt a need to adress the other side of the story. please cyclist when on the road , don't wear any headphones. this would be illigal if driving any motorized vihicle.

Copied and pasted from another article. Thought it fit here.

Im sure the guy in the van is completely fine yet the cyclist is being blamed left right and center for "listening to music" and "not wearing a helmet" while he probably will never be the same from his injuries. Maybe it was his fault but that isn't my point.

My point is:
Where are all the articles about all the motorists who listen to music WHILE on a cellphone WHILE in a sound muting metal cage and then get in a accident that injures/kills someone.
Few and far between.

Where is the justice?

The modern car is so well insulated to reduce noise(multiple laminations of windshields, pillars and doors filled with sound dampening foams) and these cars have such great speakers that people regularly don't notice firetrucks and other extremely loud emergency vehicles until they're right on top of them!

So please, spare me the shit about ipods, sure you can hear cars coming from behind you.. but what on earth good does this extra noise do... you're not a bat who can guess if the car is 1m to the left or right behind you from the noise of rolling tires and you can't really look behind you every time you hear a car coming to double check. I seriously doubt this guys music was so loud he wouldn't hear a horn or skidding tires.

From the description given about all this time to avoid the cyclist i'm so skeptical... if this cyclist just turned left randomly then it would have been WHAM not "oh i had time to turn my car this way or that, i even moved into the oncoming lane..." seriously HOW fast was this safari guy going?

Finally i'm so sorry to the cyclist and his family.

Some comments I can't agree with.

First, I thought that vehicle operators aren't allowed to listen on headphones, but I can't seem to find anything in the HTA right now.

There have been plenty of claims in threads that bicyclists have a superior awareness of their surroundings due to not being in a metal cage, etc. etc, and therefore can do {insert thing here}. Cycling while wearing headphones basically makes most cyclists (and joggers, and rollerbladers) clueless. Try riding the Martin Goodman trail some day. I'm absolutely against headphone wearing while operating a vehicle, including a bicycle.

Obviously, whether there was a radio on in the van is a red herring in this case, so why discuss it? It's possible that there have been cases where a car driver didn't hear a cyclists bell because of a car stereo, but frankly pedestrians, rollerbladers, and other cyclists don't hear your bell either, especially wearing headphones.

If indeed the cyclist swerved without checking behind him (and note the IF!!), then I'm sorry but that was a really stupid thing to do (not to mention being an offence against the HTA, improper lane change). Most times we can do stupid things on our bikes and not pay for them--I know I've done some stupid things--but sometimes the payment is severe. The lesson is not to rail against the "unfairness" of the severe payment, but to avoid taking the risk. (Or take the risk, but in any case don't complain.)

By the way, as a bicyclist I've had other cyclists swerve into my path without checking. The worst offenders are those who believe that a flying right turn on red, or from a side street with a stop sign, is an inalienable right for bicyclists (same as latte-sipping motorists don't think they need to slow down, never mind stop). These clueless riders, many of whom are wearing headphones, swoop out without a look to the left. Now, I'm riding my bike, hammering to make the green, doing maybe 35-40 km/h (all perfectly legal). Now suddenly I have Flying Pigeon right in my path. Personally, I'm in favour of banning right turns on red just about everywhere. It's just so abused by everyone, shut it down.

Ed you are missing the point.

The main-stream news media is biased towards cars and that needs to change.
(Synergistic conglomerates work together for mutual goals, cycling isn't represented in the corporate elite's power structure. Oil and automobiles are. PERIOD)

The point was, it's not like there would be some onus on a driver if they were hit making a left. Like the mass media would be going around saying...

"Was his stereo on? Ohhhh... yes I see, not paying attention not listening for every little pin drop what a bad driver, people these days!"

In fact, people in cars aren't expected to hear anything.

Further this accident wasn't on the martin goodman trail, right? So why compare apples to oranges. Sure a bicycle bell might not be heard, esp. by people wearing headphones under winter coat hoods and toques but, if you ring your bell and then just bike right into the back of them is it their fault or yours? Patience is a virtue in short supply on the road.

Anyways, this cyclist wasn't run over by another cyclist and in theory this moving van had a working and loud horn. A horn which most likely could easily be heard through many kinds of headphones. Even without headphones, consider a deaf cyclist(and there really are legally deaf people on bikes) should we ban her from cycling because she can't hear normally?

A word about aggressively charging intersections. Sure it is legal but. after cycling for a while I slowed and take my time because intersections are f'n dangerous. Most people won't expect you to be going that fast and possibly haven't seen you at all. Going faster results in less time to react and stop(if you get the left hook). In a way you are courting disaster and maybe you shouldn't be so upset about the resulting situation but, something tells me you are!

And about the results of that situation, they are extremely one sided... why shouldn't we rail against them? why shouldn't we pro-rate the penalties based on road user vulnerability? This approach of ignoring the physical inequity of the cyclist and car is amoral and inconsistent with reality. Ignoring the reality of the results is like ignoring the proverbial elephant in the room. Physically it isn't a fair fight, and this "unfairness" is demonstrated every day when cars and cyclist interact.


In other, more rational places in the world, there are laws that fairly place the onus on the driver to prove their innocence after a collision involving a cyclists or pedestrian. The driver is then required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was suicidal. As most people are not, it means that motorists must take much more care when around cyclists and pedestrians than what we see on our roads.

We still have a blame the victim mentality; like a bunch of religious zealots, we find reason to blame the ill and afflicted for being sick. It is well past the time for us to stop this insanity.

People, you want to drive a 2000lbs++ vehicle around that kills people, fine. But you will also take responsibility for your action while doing so.

Blaming the victim is not accepting your responsibility; that's deflection, abdication and renunciation – I’d rather you’d renounce your driver’s license.

This is the approach of most European countries. Our country's police seem to bend over backwards to make it the cyclists responsibiilty to prove innocence bfore even minimal charges are laid against careless drivers. I'm sorry that the driver will have to live with the knowledge that he almost killed someone. But, in all honesty, I would take that option over permanent brain damage like this cyclist likely will come away from this with.

This is why drivers need to slow down and leave plenty of room between themselves and cyclists. Maybe in this particular case, the collision happened in part because the cyclist did not do a shoulder check before changing lanes, we don't know. But what about all those times when cyclists have to swerve to avoid potholes and debris in the road, or passengers exiting parked cars? I regularly get passed by cars and trucks moving so close and so fast that there's no way they could avoid hitting me if I were to wobble or be forced to veer from my path. Drivers are supposed to leave enough room between themselves and the car in front of them that they can stop in an emergency. If the car in front of them brakes suddenly for a cat running across the road, they're responsible if they're following so closely that they rear-end them. Similarly, cars that are moving at such high speed near cyclists that they can't avoid a collision when the cyclist moves in their path - whether because of a pothole or because of carelessness - need to be held responsible. In some ways, I think the number of cyclists in the city has made drivers too complacent - the sight of a cyclist doesn't raise any "caution" alarms, it's all business as usual.

I cross Coxwell at this time of night frequently. I'm willing to guarantee that 99% of drivers don't drive the posted 40 km. I can see how a left hand turn is mis-judged.
I'm disappointed with how much blame is put on the cyclist who is in no position to speak to his side of the story.
Oh how I long for Dutch laws.

One person has hit another one from behind at eleven at night and tells the cops that the cyclist swerved to the left without signaling. There are no witnesses and the cyclist is unable to give is version of the collision. How much credibility should a report like this get?

There is no detail given on how far the accident happened from the place where the road narrows to one lane because of the railway underpass

Q for the locals: does one share the lane in the vicinity of the underpass?

Nor does the report say that the earphones were on the ears at the time of the accident. They may have been hanging around the neck. MAybe at this point we all can agree that it's stupid to have headphones over the ears, and that it's even unwise to have headphones anywhere outside your gear - because in case of an accident they'll accuse you of having been listening.

The report does not say either whether the cyclist was using lights which I think would be of more interest than the fact that he was not wearing a helmet if we are trying to piece together what caused the accident.

So, the report is pretty much just fodder for the blustering crowd. What I really would like to have is a video recorder running all the time - that should be my witness in case of an accident.

Honestly, this is a very f'd up situation right now. This a very hard time for me..I can't even stop thinking about the whole thing. Im not trying to put the whole blame on the driver cuz yes my friend was wearing an ipod which is not a good idea when your riding a bike but the driver also has to look out for some cautions too e.g like someone said in a comment before slowing down around cyclists, not listening to loud blasting music, shouldnt be talking on the phone/ texting or anything else that would cause an accident. To be real people..when ur driving whether its a car, truck, bike, motorcycle or whatever it is keep ur hands on the wheel n stay focused. **KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD AT ALL TIMES & LOOK OUT FOR YOUR SURROUNDINGS!!!! **This is our lifes were putting on the line, we all need to get serious asap!

I hope your friend gets better and that motorist gets ass-raped by a gas nozzle.

You didn't tell his side though - you just told how he responded to the situation. What did he actually see happen? What was the scenario? Did the cyclist pop out of a blind spot, or from behind another car? did the cyclist signal? Was either party driving in a safe and conscientious manner?

It would seem that currently, your brother is the only one who can voice what happened, and we'd all like to learn from the situation.

A few thoughts:

1) In answer to the narrowing of Coxwell question, I am familiar with this spot as both a car driver AND as a cyclist. This is a dangerous spot, and an excellent reason (as if we needed a special one) to implement the proposed bike lane for this section of Coxwell.

Where the road narrows under the railway under pass to a 'shared lane' with virtually no warning, its a a cause of a lot of near misses between cars, never mind w/bikes. It comes up very suddenly as is very deceiving since you can look through the underpass and see 2 lanes each way immediately on the other side. This can make you imagine you have more room that you do in the underpass.

Were bike lanes implemented here, it would actually make like easier for car drivers, since there would be one consistent lane on both side of the underpass, and no traffic merge required.

2) Irrespective of the details of this accident, and with my utmost sympathies to the cyclist and for that matter, the driver, who while uninjured, we should assume feels terrible..... the extent of the head injury is at least in part due to the absence of a bike helmet. Something I ALWAYS wear when biking, even on trails. That does not constitute blaming the victim or in anyway diminish my sympathy for the cyclist, but it is an important reminder that its a good idea and it should be the law to wear a helmet. Drivers and their passengers have to wear seat belts, its the same idea, its what little protection we have as cyclists and no one should be biking, particularly on major roads without it.

3) While being rightly cynical about any police investigation into this accident, as per the many others that have come before; could the quickfire judges here tone it down a bit and wait for at least the result of that investigation; and hopefully, the cyclist's version of events when he recovers? I for one don't like to see snap judgments about cycling or cyclists and therefore we ought not to offer them about drivers. Let's get the facts, then assign blame, as appropriate.

Considering that at 10:30pm this evening I watched another cyclist going down Donlands Avenue while:
- talking on a cell phone,
- with the other hand folded under his arm,
- wearing all black,
- without a light,
- or a helmet;
I'm not so sure we should be laying blame until all of the facts are presented.

....Mine included.


In other, more rational places in the world, there are laws that fairly place the onus on the driver to prove their innocence after a collision involving a cyclists or pedestrian. The driver is then required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the victim was suicidal."

That's a link to a blog (danger!) which claims that elsewhere there are such laws. I'd be a lot more convinced if the link pointed to a page that contained the actual law.

For the counterpoint to "motorists are always at fault no matter what bicyclists do", see the comments on this article in Steve Munro's blog:

As a bicyclist, I stop behind streetcar doors. As a streetcar rider, I worry about being hit by a bicycle when entering or leaving a streetcar, especially on Queen West.

Finally, adults should be responsible for their actions. Yes, I know, "society and motorists parking in my bike lane are at fault!".

Telling this story just for the comedic value. Your mention of the dangers in exiting a street car reminded me of it.

True drunk story: I stepped out of a street car once just as a dude in a convertible drove up, nearly running my foot over (he was freakishly close to the street car itself for some reason, let alone ignoring the rule to stop behind the doors). Being rather drunk and feeling brave/cocky, I took advantage of the fact that he was in a convertible and (I didn't even have to step forward to do this), I just leaned over into his personal space and yelled: "STOP BEHIND THE DOORS". He reflexively hunched over while I was speaking(yelling) and then turned to me in what seemed like slow motion with this horrified look on his face and then hit the gas - while still giving me this horrified look.

ps. always stick your head out the door and look first before stepping out.
p.p.s. try to remember that rule even if you're drunk.

From the HTA

  1. (1) When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.


(2) This section does not apply in cases of a collision between motor vehicles or to an action brought by a passenger in a motor vehicle in respect of any injuries sustained while a passenger. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.


(3) This section applies where the loss or damage was sustained on or after the day section 3 of Schedule 10 to the Budget Measures Act, 2005 (No. 2) comes into force. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.


(4) This section, as it read immediately before the day section 3 of Schedule 10 to the Budget Measures Act, 2005 (No. 2) comes into force, continues to apply where the loss or damage was sustained before that day. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.


(5) In this section,

“motor vehicle” includes street car; (“véhicule automobile”)

“operator” has the same meaning as in subsection 16 (1). (“utilisateur”) 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.

For the purpose of this law, is a bicycle considered a 'motor vehichle'?

No, a bicycle is not a "motor vehicle" but it's a "vehicle".

“bicycle” includes a tricycle and unicycle but does not include a motor assisted bicycle; (“bicyclette”)

“motor vehicle” includes an automobile, motorcycle, motor assisted bicycle unless otherwise indicated in this Act, and any other vehicle propelled or driven otherwise than by muscular power, but does not include a street car, or other motor vehicles running only upon rails, or a motorized snow vehicle, traction engine, farm tractor, self-propelled implement of husbandry or road-building machine within the meaning of this Act; (“véhicule automobile”)

“vehicle” includes a motor vehicle, trailer, traction engine, farm tractor, road-building machine, bicycle and any vehicle drawn, propelled or driven by any kind of power, including muscular power, but does not include a motorized snow vehicle or a street car; (“véhicule”)

Wearing black at night, having headphones/ipod on your person - in fact I think riding a bicycle(esp. on the road) is basically negligence in the eyes of many(judges included).

If you rear-end a motor-vehicle that makes a sudden left in front of you, who is negligent there?

What double-standard!

I found this picture of the accident scene.

While I agree with PedalPowerPat for a speedy recovery for the cyclist...

what's up with the comment
"that motorist gets ass-raped by a gas nozzle"

There is no evidence presented here to indicate that the motorist was in any way negligent. Sometimes it really is NOT the motorists fault. Yes motor vehicles are inherently dangerous and in a collision between a motor vehicle and a cyclist the cyclist will always lose. But sometimes the person driving the motor vehicle was driving responsibly.

...and it looks like it's definitely two lanes - about 100m south of where the road narrows.

and some times the cyclist is driving responsibly. Hateful comments like the one you pointed out are born of the fact that the blame is raining down indescribably on both sides. The fact of the matter is, there are both poor and good drivers on both sides of this line.

Lets just focus on the fact that this particular commenter has some serious issues if they think stuffing a gas nozzle up someone's bum is acceptable behaviour (or even acceptable conversation)


Is your music that important that you have to listen to it in such a way, endangering your life?

"This may have been a contributing factor to the collision if he did not hear the van before turning in front of it without looking. A poster on the ARC mailing list pointed out, "I would like to know if the fracken driver of the van was listening to his stereo?""

It doesn't matter if the driver was listening to his stereo because of proximity to sound. Headphones in your ear are going to drown out all outside noise. Full Stop. End of story.

How many car accidents are caused because the driver's stereo was too loud? Probably an infinitessimally small amount compared to cyclists that have been in accidents.

Stop being militant shitheads and wake up. People who don't observe the rules of the road and don't wear a helmet, don't need your sympathy. They're stupid and the stupid deserve to be killed.
It's call survival of the fittest.

There tends to be too much blame-redirecting about this sort of thing. Maybe the driver was listening to loud music, talking on his cell phone, yelling at his kids in the back, and trying to shave. But that doesn't mean it's any less stupid for a cyclist to be wearing headphones while riding in the city at night.

Of course drivers can be careless, and sometimes outright reckless and aggressive. That's a reason for cyclists to be more careful and take precautions, not a justification to be just as careless as drivers.

Your abuse aside, I think it's most a lack of education. A lot of people just simply don't realize what kind of danger they're putting themselves in. They don't know the rules. There's no standardized/mandatory way of teaching cyclists what the rules of the road are.

It would seem like common sense not to wear your headphones while riding a bike, but that's not necessarily true. I fight the urge to listen to music on my bike all the time - some riders out there have a false sense of security and feel safe enough to wear them.

Consider this: lots of people drown out their surroundings on subway and RT platforms by listening to music. They loose a certain amount of situational awareness and thus are less likely to detect a person coming up behind them to pick their pocket or push them onto the tracks. Is it common sense not to wear headphones in this case? Of course. Do most people perceive it as common sense? Not really.

It's all about personal concepts of safety. If you feel safe, you'll take a risk. If you feel safe enough, you wont even perceive your 'risk' as a risk.

It's particularly dangerous on a bicycle though. Which is why proper education needs to enter the fray.

I rode my bike, fast, with headphones for years. I never had a problem because I rode safely, used my eyes to over compensate. A deaf person can ride a bike safely in traffic.

"Stop being militant shitheads and wake up. People who don't observe the rules of the road and don't wear a helmet, don't need your sympathy. They're stupid and the stupid deserve to be killed.
It's call survival of the fittest."

wow... lets be a human and try some fucking compassion OK?

IF not, you're the stupid one here. Shocked? It's simple stupid. Nobody is perfect(sorry buddy) and if you subscribe to such a strict ideal of how one ought to cycle, one which doesn't afford you any reasonable assurances of your safety, you've basically condemned yourself - mistakes will be made, stupid ones, by you.

If motor vehicles like cars tend to kill the most people on our roads. Then why are we not making it more difficult to get a license and own a car? Most likely it is the fact that this is a large Industrial complex which generates revenue for the government and the elites.

With Global Warming we should be looking at reducing the amount of speeding cars on our roads.

We can't sustain what is going on now.

Many more pedestrians and cyclist will be getting blamed before this changes. Its one thing to get in an accident, but its another to injure or take someones life on the road.

pennyfarthing ok frye