On July 4, 2016 – the Monday following the Canada Day long weekend – eleven pedestrians and nine cyclists were struck in 18 separate motor vehicle collisions around the City of Toronto. One 73-year-old cyclists was killed near the intersection of Kipling Ave and Brookemere Rd, and a second cyclist in his seventies was killed the next day near Dupont and Christie.
The exceptionally dangerous day for Toronto’s pedestrians and cyclists came at a politically relevant moment: next week, City Council is set to debate a new road safety plan unveiled last month by Mayor John Tory and Ward 25 Don Valley West Councillor Jaye Robinson, who is also council’s public works chair.
Robinson told the Toronto Star that Monday’s motor vehicle collisions are “a clear indication that we have to get the (road safety plan) into action now. Clearly, the status quo is not effective in reducing collisions and improving safety for vulnerable road users, meaning pedestrians, cyclists and seniors.”
Unfortunately the number of motor vehicle collisions which occurred on July 4, though unusual, is not unprecedented. Twenty-two pedestrians and one cyclist have already been killed in Toronto this year, and the city is on pace to match the 40 pedestrians who died in 2013, the highest number in a decade. Since the end of May, 70 pedestrians have been hit by cars in Toronto, and 50 cyclists were struck during the month of June, alone.
“It’s hard to ignore numbers like these,” Kasia Briegmann-Samson, whose husband died after being struck by a car while riding his bike in 2012, told the Star. “It’s extremely sad if it takes 20 people being injured or killed in one day to make things happen. Every single one of these deaths are preventable. Every single one.”
Briegmann-Samson’s view is shared by Matts-Ake Belin, a traffic safety strategist with the Swedish Transport Administration and a principle architect of the “Vision Zero” road safety program that aims to eliminate road fatalities in different jurisdictions around the world. “You have to raise the needs of the unprotected road users,” Belin told the Globe and Mail. “You have to put them higher and their needs higher up in the discussion about how you want to plan your urban environment.”
Mayor Tory and Councillor Robinson’s road safety plan did not initially adhere to the “zero fatality” ideology, aiming instead to reduce serious injuries and deaths by 20 per cent over 10 years. In response to criticism, Robinson quickly amended the $68-million strategy to include a zero fatality goal. The plan has also been criticized as reactive for focusing specifically on identified danger spots – intersections and stretches of roads where vulnerable road users have already been killed – rather than addressing city-wide issues.
While the road safety plan is argued in city council, Toronto’s streets remain an unacceptably dangerous place for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists alike. Serious motor vehicle collisions are a common occurrence, and can have a profound effect on peoples’ lives. If you or a member of your family has been injured in a car accident, contact Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers for a free, no-obligation consultation.