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  • Writer's pictureDave Shellnutt

CAFÉTO: City of Toronto Blames Cyclist for Striking Illegal Patio

Updated: Jun 19

On August 10, 2022, while navigating street cars/tracks and passing motorists on King St. West Nathalie’s bike handlebars clipped an oversized and illegally placed CafeTO patio. This patio had been there illegally for 3 years and the City of Toronto did nothing to remove the hazard.


Nathalie crashed headfirst, suffering a head injury, wounds to her face and other aches and pains (caught on video).

Biking Lawyer LLP investigators went down to the site in the days following her crash to measure the patio. Evidence demonstrated that the patio was only 64cms from the streetcar lane. CafeTO Guidelines in 2021 and 2022, demanded curb lane patios be 1.5 meters from the traffic lane (this patio was nearly a meter over safe dimension requirements). On top of that, in 2020, CafeTO guidelines did not permit structures like the one that was built and installed.


The danger created by this was that the 64cm distance from the illegal patio’s steal rail to the traffic lane’s white dotted line nearly matched Nathalie’s handlebar width, which was a standard 63cms.

The space Nathalie had to navigate passing streetcars was razor thin. Based on the images of this patio taken after her crash it is clear she’s not the only one to have hit this hazard.


Given that for 3 years (Google images below) the patio was not up to code but remained on a busy cycling route, Nathalie sued not only the restaurant responsible for it, but the City of Toronto. Nathalie alleges that the City failed to properly inspect and remove this non-compliant CafeTO patio that presented a danger to passing road users.


The City of Toronto has stubbornly not accepted any responsibility for allowing this hazard to persist for 3 years. Instead, their private firm lawyers blame Nathalie for this incident and claim no duty to ensure the public is safe. The next stage is a costly trial.

(These 2020/2021 Google and 2022 post-crash images demonstrate the illegal patio occupying the roadway for 3 years without any corrective action taken by the City of Toronto).


Nathalie believes it was imperative for the City to support businesses, especially restaurants, during the pandemic. However, business interests cannot trump citizen safety.


The City of Toronto in helping one group, cannot abdicate responsibility for the safety of another. The City of Toronto permitted businesses to put structures in roadways but did not ensure they were installed correctly, inspected for violations, or removed if they presented a hazard.


As a result, Nathalie suffered serious injuries, impacting her career, and requiring ongoing care.


As CafeTO 2023 begins in earnest, Nathalie fights the City of Toronto for accountability and demands they prioritize safety. The City must uphold its duty to ensure roadways are safe for travel. If they permit those roadways to be altered in any way, either by CafeTO or construction, they must have a viable inspection program with tough, immediate penalties for non-compliance. Her hope – that another cyclist is not injured like her.


We applaud Nathalie's bravery and stand alongside her as she demands accountability and fights to ensure no other cyclists experiences the long-lasting effects of a preventable incident like this.


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Quintan Barnes
Quintan Barnes
Jun 14

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