The tour was first organized in 1976 as the team ride of the Scarborough Cycling Club, affiliated with a bike store in Scarborough, two of the primary organizers being Roger Keiley and Barry Hastings. As the ride grew in popularity it moved to a new starting point more centralized in Toronto, although still somewhat east of the core. It remained associated with a bike store for some time, and was insured by the Ontario Cycling Association. A serious accident in the 1990s led to the entire group being sued, and since then the ride is completely unofficial.
Sad to say it's not the first time I have heard of crashes on this ride. I know there are many roadies who are very passionate about this ride. I know many people who have been on this touring ride for years. I have never tried it. Seemed too dangerous. Sadly the safety issues of this ride go beyond speed, inexperience or cars. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies.
HOW MANY CYCLING VICTIMS WILL IT TAKE?
Nothing prepared me for this. During fifty years of cycling, I feared danger from motor vehicles, but never from another cyclist. I was wrong.
It happened this Labour Day, Monday September 2nd, a perfect cycling day. I headed out from my home in the Bathurst and Lawrence neighborhood of the city about 8:30 a.m. and proceeded along a 100 kilometer route I regularly cycle: north on Keele Street, east along 17th Sideroad, south on Dufferin Street, east again on 15th Sideroad and through a residential area. I arrived at my rest location, a coffee shop / deli at the intersection of Yonge Street and King Road.
After enjoying a short rest and energy-replenishing snacks, I prepared myself to continue my ride. Just then, the Toronto Donut Ride also stopped here for their rest. The Donut Ride is an informal road cycling group, who ride every Saturday, Sunday and public holiday. A typical summer ride includes over 100 cyclists. The ride is well known for being fast paced, often reaching speeds of 50 km/h.
Here I met my son, who is known in the race cycling community, and was riding with this group as he occasionally does. We chatted briefly and arranged that I would proceed on my own and when the group caught up with me, he would leave the Donut Ride and join me so we could cycle together.
I did head off alone, cycled north on Yonge, east on Bloomington Road and south on Leslie Street. I was only a short distance south of Bloomington on Leslie when small groups of two or three cyclists from the Donut Ride zoomed by. I knew that the peloton would be passing me at any moment and therefore kept to the extreme right of the road. My son spotted me and left the peloton to join me as we had planned. I never considered myself in danger and fully expected the Donut Ride to pass me safely and respectfully. I was wrong. Suddenly one rider in the pack zoomed by too closely and overlapped my front wheel causing me to crash. And he just kept going.
After I crashed, some riders in the group stopped. My son rushed to my side thoroughly distraught. Some cyclists with cell phones called ‘911’. The York Regional Police and the EMS Ambulance quickly arrived on the scene. The paramedics immediately established that I had a concussion since I could not remember my name, my address, or where I was. They strapped me to a special board, as a precaution for possible neck and/or spinal injuries, and rushed me to York Central Hospital for emergency medical treatment.
As a result of the crash, I suffered physical and psychological traumas including: a concussion, a broken collar-bone fractured in 4 places, four broken ribs, and deep lacerations to my leg and shoulder. My helmet saved me from possible head injuries and brain damage.
I have suffered grievously for the past three months: I underwent orthopedic surgery to repair my collar-bone; I required the daily visit of a wound-care nurse to tend to my leg and shoulder lacerations; and, now I undergo extensive physiotherapy with no assurance of regaining full functionality in my left arm. In addition, as an independent consultant, I have suffered financially, being unable to earn any income for three months.
All my pain, suffering, and financial distress were caused that morning by a cyclist in the Donut Ride. Neither that cyclist nor anyone else in that group has contacted me to express an apology, interest in my recovery, or compassion for a fellow cyclist.
I have always considered Toronto’s cycling community a real community, caring for and supporting each other. But they utterly failed me. We cyclists must ask ourselves, “Is there really a cycling community?”
Almost daily we read about confrontations between cyclists and motorists. But who is paying attention to the injuries cyclists cause other cyclists? It is time for the Donut Ride specifically and the greater cycling community to reflect on our compliance with the rules of the road, our courtesy, respect and concern for the safety of our fellow riders….. ……before there are more victims.