After several months of cold weather and long nights, spring has arrived in Toronto, and with it comes an annual surge of cyclists and pedestrians on the city’s streets. Pedestrian and cycling injury lawyers were kept busy last year, as several hundred pedestrians were hit by cars and more than 40 died, the most since 2011. Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Star also reported a 58 per cent rise in cyclist “dooring” incidents since 2014. Will these discouraging trends continue in 2017? How can motorists, pedestrians and cyclists contribute to improved road safety in Toronto this summer?
Winter is generally the worst time to be a pedestrian in Toronto and the GTA, thanks to slippery roads and dark commutes. However, summer presents its own unique challenges, most notably the drastic uptick in pedestrian traffic.
Pedestrian-automobile collisions are exceptionally dangerous and often result in severe injuries. Luckily, there are a few simple precautions you can take to avoid accidents and get home safely.
The first is to exercise common sense and stick to the rules of the road – that means crossing at designated crosswalks and obeying signage and crossing signals. If you’re on a road without designated pedestrian crossings, don’t tempt fate: the speed of oncoming cars is hard to judge, so make sure to leave plenty of room.
It’s also a good idea to limit mobile device activity while using city sidewalks. Distracted driving has been a point of concern for safety advocates and pedestrian and cycling injury lawyers of late, and ‘distracted walking’ presents many of the same dangers. Keep your wits about you and your head on a swivel.
Though there are a variety of inherent risks that come with cycling downtown, “dooring” is among the most prominent. Recently released statistics show that this variety of collision, described by Cycle Toronto as “when someone in a motor vehicle strikes a cyclist by opening their car door into traffic,” has become increasingly common in the city, especially on streets with streetcar tracks, streets with street parking, and streets without bike lanes.
“Dooring collisions can mean life changing injuries or death for cyclists,” said Jared Kolb, Executive Director of Cycle Toronto. “At the end of the day, people riding bicycles are just average Torontonians trying to get from A to B like everyone else. They shouldn’t have to risk lasting physical trauma or death to do so.”
Cycling injury lawyers always advocate for equipment like helmets, bright clothing, bells and lights can help cyclists avoid dooring and other motor vehicle collisions, but perhaps the most effective safety measure is to use streets with bike lanes. Segregated or protected bike lanes, like those found on Richmond and Adelaide Streets in downtown Toronto, have proven to be safest.
Despite the fact that car accidents are a leading cause of death and injury in Canada, motorists enjoy more regulatory and technological protection than other road users, and as such must exercise added caution when sharing the road.
When driving through heavily populated areas, make sure to reduce speeds and stay alert. Ensure your mobile devices are out of sight and ask passengers in your car to keep distracting behaviour to a minimum. Be especially wary at intersections: you’ll have to keep an eye on both oncoming traffic and pedestrians.
In cities like Toronto where biking is popular, motorists must be keenly aware of the threat they pose. Double- and triple-check your mirrors before making right-hand turns, stay out of bike lanes at all costs, and ensure the coast is clear before opening your doors.
Contact a pedestrian or cycling injury lawyer
If you’ve been injured in a motor vehicle collision, contact the pedestrian and cycling injury lawyers at Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers today. We have decades of experience protecting Ontario’s vulnerable road users and injured citizens, and will happily advise you on your path forward.
Photo credit: Andrew Rivett/Wikimedia Commons