Ontario's chief coroner to review cycling deaths and wants to hear from you

The Chief Coroner of Ontario, Dr. Andrew McCallum, announced this morning that his office would be investigating cycling deaths over the last four years to determine ways to prevent them, reports the Star and CBC (read the announcement). Ten to twenty cyclists die every year in Ontario as a result of injuries on Ontario streets. A coalition of cycling and senior groups - Toronto Cyclists Union, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists and the United Senior Citizens of Ontario - wrote to the coroner requesting the inquest, and an opinion piece was written in the Star in August by lawyers Albert Koehl and Patrick Brown, along with former president of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario, Marie Smith, explaining why they wanted the inquest.

A similar review of 38 cycling deaths in the city of Toronto over an 11-year period was completed in 1998. That review led to a number of cycling initiatives in the city, including the Bike Plan, the city-wide network of cycling lanes, and the establishment of the cycling advisory committee, which was disbanded earlier this year.

“We know a lot has changed since then,” Cass said, adding that there are more cyclists on the road now than ever before and more interest in sustainable forms of transportation. “It seemed timely to do this and look at how we can make things as safe as possible for cyclists going forward.”

Dr. Dan Cass is the regional supervising coroner for the Toronto West region. The results of that previous coroner's inquest can be found on the City of Toronto's website and came with a long list of recommendations. Almost 14 years later, it appears that we have been dragging our feet as much as possible.

Comments and recommendations can be sent to Dr. Cass and the review panel before Nov. 30, 2011 by writing occo.inquiries@ontario.ca or at the following mailing address: Dr. Dan Cass, Office of the Chief Coroner, 26 Grenville Street, Toronto, ON, M7A 2G7.

Comments

This is an important review.

Even though there is the chance that it may be as shelved and as ignored by the City as the 1998 one was, because of the increased and proveable liability that a set of negative comments about standing still, missing our tepid Bike Plan goals, and now going backwards with the removal of the Scarborough lanes and the killing off of the Bloor EA study by the Fordkers, and that is combined with rough roads and proven failure to follow other nearby jurisdictions like Quebec, let alone innovate, and then add in all the numbers of cyclists, the sheer numbers of us mean that someone will have some clout and cash to actually sue the City and thus the great-odds-official censure of the City for avoiding cycling safety in a meaningful way means success with lawsuits.

So even if the majority of Council remain as anti-bike as our Mayor is, the CIty itself will be hit with costs far more than mere bike lanes, and we have proveable patterns of crash and harm that the City itself has produced with zilch real reaction eg. the east-west problems, that the Bloor St. bike lane could have helped with and instead we get rush-hour sharrows and the canning of that signed contract with the Fordkers.

It's very helpful to have that extra bit of info about the commentings Herb -
Comments and recommendations can be sent to Dr. Cass and the review panel before Nov. 30, 2011 by writing occo.inquiries@ontario.ca or at the following mailing address: Dr. Dan Cass, Office of the Chief Coroner, 26 Grenville Street, Toronto, ON, M7A 2G7.
please share this widely folks.

This review and its recommendations may serve to underline the need for cycling infrastructure, in particular the pathetic level if its implementation and Toronto since the original Bike Plan was adopted, and the decision to remove 6km of bike lanes in 2011.

Is it important? The last report sort of just sat there.

I like this, apparently the undisclosed "experts" are aware.... hahaha.

cyclist saftey issues

Shit, i can't remember the last time i heard of a cyclist texting and driving, er oops, riding and killing another person.

Stupid populist things like that article distract from the fact that most, well, practically ALL cyclists are hurt by negligent drivers. Shame shame CBC.

Yes, it's kinda ridiculous to have a review in some ways, because we know on one level that the common thread in most deaths is a mobile furnace/car/vehicle. Cars are serial killers.

If a harder/plainer point of view isn't put forward to the process, then what are the odds it will be remaining "carrupt"? If the truth about systemic road dangers, carrupt justice and planning, and widespread civic neglect and incompetence are taken up by this Review and the Coroner, and it becomes a firm report, it's not just a rabid activist cyclist, but an authority, and it becomes far more easy in the courts to get damages and liability proven.

Please think of putting most of these points forward into the process.
Comments and recommendations can be sent to Dr. Cass and the review panel before Nov. 30, 2011 by writing occo.inquiries@ontario.ca or at the following mailing address: Dr. Dan Cass, Office of the Chief Coroner, 26 Grenville Street, Toronto, ON, M7A 2G7.

Maybe motorists should have to cycle for a few weeks/months, before they get their motor vehicle license...perhaps they will open their eyes for a change. The only thing they seem to see, are other cars. Apparently blinking lights and neon clothing aren't enough!

**November 7. Cyclist killed this morning. The following is from the Toronto Star.
**
A woman on a bicycle was killed this morning in a collision with a truck near Dundas St. W. and Sterling Rd.
Gustavo Vieira
Staff Reporter
A cyclist was killed late Monday morning after she was hit by a truck in the city’s west end.

The accident happened around 11:30 a.m. near the intersection of Dundas St. W. and Sterling Rd., according to Toronto EMS deputy commander Dan Hunter.

The name of the victim was not immediately released, but police believe she was a Toronto resident in her forties.

The truck and the bicycle were making a right turn from Sterling Rd. to Dundas St. W. when the woman was brushed by the side of the truck and thrown into the rear wheels of the truck, said police Const. Hugh Smith.

“It’s one of these preventable collisions. We have two road users going the same direction, making the same turn, the most vulnerable road user here being the cyclist. No matter who’s at fault, we’ve lost a life here,” said Smith.

The bicycle had a trailer attached to it and two sets of helmets were found at the scene, but Police have confirmed only one cyclist was involved in the accident.

“I heard a thump, looked at the road and saw the truck wobbling out. I also saw something on the ground and what looked like a bike, and just called 911,” said Paul Leonardo, the manager of an equipment rental store across the street from the scene of the accident.

“When I saw the fire truck, I saw one of the firemen, he took off his jacket, he looked distraught and sat on the edge of the fire truck,” said Mr. Leonardo, who was considering closing his shop for the rest of the day.

The accident occurred where the south end of the West Toronto Railpath trail meets Dundas St. W., just west of Lansdowne Ave.

Dundas St. W. is closed to traffic in both directions between Sorauren and Lansdowne Aves., and is expected to remain closed for several hours, said Toronto police Sgt. Mark Tilley.

The TTC is diverting the 506 Carlton and the 505 Dundas streetcars, turning back at Lansdowne.

In October, the first ever province-wide investigation into cycling deaths was announced by Ontario’s chief coroner. About 15 to 20 cyclists are killed on Ontario roads every year, with roughly a third in the Greater Toronto Area.

Jenna Morrison and her husband shared a car. They lived downtown, in a loft building on Sterling Road, just across the street from the busy Nestle’s chocolate factory north of the corner of Dundas Street West. Often Ms. Morrison, who taught yoga in several studios across Toronto, would commute by bike, with her 5-year-old son, Lucas, pedaling gamely behind on a tandem bike attached to her seat post.

On Monday at 11:35 a.m., apparently on her way to fetch Lucas from senior kindergarten — his Spiderman helmet hung from her handlebars — Ms. Morrison, 38, was crushed by a truck at the corner of Dundas and Sterling.

She was five months pregnant.

“Jenna was an extremely loving, bright, glowing person who spread that loving and caring and brightness and happiness to everyone around her,” Dylan Kirk said yesterday.

Mr. Kirk, 31, sat in the studios of Spiritwind Internal Arts, above Urban Herbivore, a vegetarian restaurant on the corner of Oxford Street and Augusta Avenue in Kensington Market. He manned his mobile phone, which rang without cease, trying to cope with his good friend’s death. He looked pale.

Ten years ago, Ms. Morrison and her friend Dana Lerman, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, founded this holistic medicine centre as Pure Intent. They had since sold the centre to Mr. Kirk; Ms. Morrison continued teaching Restorative Yoga here, Monday nights, 5:30 to 7 p.m.

Mr. Kirk heard of Jenna’s death Monday afternoon. “I got a call on the other line. It was her students wondering where she was,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what to tell them because I knew the parents didn’t know yet.”

On Tuesday, after reading that a truck had killed a cyclist, I donned my reflective neon green vest, snapped on a helmet and turned on my front and rear lights before pedaling to the accident.

It’s a five-minute ride from my house. I felt exposed and vulnerable.

A sign at the corner of Dundas and Sterling, for the West Toronto Railpath, is now a growing memorial to Ms. Morrison.

A cyclist who carried, in a small seat between himself and his front handlebars, a little girl — whose bike helmet sat loosely on her head — stopped. He didn’t get off his bike. He tossed a bouquet of red roses alongside a growing heap of snapdragons, daisies, carnations, dahlias and other flowers.

The gesture seemed perfunctory, as though he is used to tossing bouquets onto memorials for dead cyclists. Perhaps he is.

Scott Hudson Riley, a landscape architect who cares for the living billboards along the Gardiner near the Exhibition grounds, came by with the work crew, parked his pickup truck, and left flowers.

Martin Reis, who writes a blog called Bike Lane Diary, brought water and empty yoghurt and coffee cans, to hold the bouquets.

Two other young men pedaled up, leaned their bikes on an iron fence and asked the TV crews to stop filming. They lit a small piece of palo santo (Spanish for “holy wood”) which one told me he had smuggled in from Peru. It filled the air with a sweet smell.

“Jenna was a yoga teacher of mine,” said one of the men. Then his eyes fell.

What is to be done? “People need to gather and grieve,” said Mr. Kirk.

He held a vigil at Spiritwind Tuesday. Vidya Institute on Christie Street plans a chanting vigil on Wednesday. Renaissance Yoga on Ontario Street in Cabbagetown also plans a vigil. The family pleaded Tuesday for privacy and announced it will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday about the “untimely and tragic loss of their loved one,” at the site of Ms. Morrison’s death.

When the grieving is over, we need to make our streets safer. Two weeks ago, Dr. Dan Cass, Ontario’s supervising coroner for the central region, said he will lead a review of all cycling deaths in Ontario in 2006-2010. There were over 110 deaths, he told me — over 20 a year.

“We’re taking the view that all cycling deaths are potentially preventable deaths,” Dr. Cass said Tuesday. “We are looking at time of day, road conditions, weather conditions, circumstances, what kind of preventive equipment was used. We want to develop recommendations based on preventing deaths in the future.”

His report will come out next spring. None too soon, says Andrea Garcia of the Toronto Cyclists’ Union, which praised the coroner’s initiative in a news release: “Census Canada reported that there was a 30% increase in the number of people riding to work. If we can give safer passage, we know cycling will increase.”

When that happens, Ms. Morrison will not have died in vain.

National Post

replying to Escaping Near Injury Mutliple Times a Day, EVERY DAY:

I suspect that many folks wouldn't go back to driving after getting addicted to the adrenaline rush of bike commuting.

On the other hand, I rented a car for a weekend this summer to go visit my dad up north. On Monday morning I got dropped off at work before my wife returned the car. It was the easiest commute imaginable. Motorists have it so easy.

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I remain somewhat stunned and appalled that there aren't going to be charges against the truck driver, not even a dangerous driving causing death. While maybe the greatest blame lies with the City, there's a lot of murkiness in what happened, but it smells really badly of a driver kinda racing through a stop with no traffic, and taking a cyclist out, and it's remaining very sad.

When The Chief Coroner of Ontario, Dr. Andrew McCallum announced this news I was really shocked to know this news. I want to say that every person should riding on the cycle and they should spent their time for their families. I really miss the cycle ridding. I want to say that motorists should have to cycle for a few weeks/months because I know that they will really enjoy it.

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