Kitchener Waterloo Cyclists & Vulnerable Road Users in Peril
Updated: Dec 18, 2022
December 17, 2022
Mayor Dorothy McCabe Mayor Berry Vrbanovic
100 Regina Street South Kitchener City Hall
PO Box 337, Station Waterloo 200 King St., W., 2nd floor
Waterloo, ON N2J 4A8 Kitchener, ON N2G 4G7
Chief Mark Crowell
Waterloo Regional Police Service
200 Maple Grove Road
Cambridge, ON N3H 5M1
RE: Cyclists & Vulnerable Road Users
Seriously Injured in a Horrific Month
Dear Chief Crowell, Mayors McCabe and Vrbanovic,
I grew up in Guelph and went to high school near Waterloo. I spent many years driving and cycling in the area. Back then, motor vehicle traffic was fast paced and often scary on a bike.
As advocates for safe streets and lawyers for cyclists injured in the KW Region, we were deeply saddened last week to learn of a cyclist seriously injured at Weber and Marshal on Wednesday and another cyclist seriously injured and charged for riding in a crosswalk in Kitchener on Thursday.
These 2 incidents follow an 11-year-old girl struck on her bicycle by a driver on Bechtel Drive in Kitchener on November 26.
On December 14, a pedestrian was killed by a motorist near Manitou and Bleams Rd.
On December 9, an elderly pedestrian was hit by a motorist at Erb and Ira Needles Blvd and sent to hospital with serious injuries. This happened at the same roundabout that sent a 21-year-old pedestrian to a trauma center by helicopter in August.
On December 1, a motorist pulled a gun on a pedestrian in a ‘road rage’ incident in Kitchener.
On November 27, a pedestrian was struck by a motorist that fled the scene at Westheights and Blackwell. The victim was taken out-of-region with serious injuries.
On November 26, a pedestrian was struck by a motorist and seriously injured at Charles and Eby in Kitchener.
On November 25, a pedestrian was struck by a motorist and transported to an out-or-region hospital with serious injuries. This happened at the same Homer Watson and Ottawa roundabout that the cyclist was stuck last week. No mention if the November 25th driver was charged in the WRPS press release.
On behalf of cyclists in the Waterloo Region, we implore you to review this horrifying string of motor vehicle collisions and refocus efforts aimed at keeping vulnerable road users safe, curbing dangerous driving ahead of a busy 2023 spring cycling season.
We ask the Waterloo Regional Police Service why a cyclist seriously injured by a motorist (who has a heightened duty to look out for vulnerable road users) was charged before he left the hospital. Was the driver charged for failing to yield the right of way, for causing serious injury? Was this crosswalk connecting a multi-use path near a school (but shockingly devoid of any safety features to help vulnerable road users traverse this urban highway) considered at all before blaming the victim and charging him?
If the point was to send a message, you are speaking to the wrong audience.
In 2020, KW experienced 4715 collisions by motorists. 79% of collisions occurred at intersections, 500 resulted in injury or death, and 146 involved pedestrians or cyclists.
The KW Region must work together to:
Provide safe and protected cycling infrastructure;
Design intersections and roundabouts with lighted safety crossings, speed bumps and other features that prioritize pedestrian and cyclist safety;
Explore automated enforcement options and deploy liberally;
Send letters of support to the Provincial Government encouraging them to pass the Moving Ontarians More Safely Act; and
Connect and engage with local safe streets organizations (CycleWR), cycling clubs, bike shops, and community members.
What is clear is that there is a serious issue on the streets of Kitchener Waterloo. Motorists see driving as a right and not a privilege. The result is a huge cost on our families, communities, employers, and hospitals.
It is imperative that the Waterloo Regional Police Service send a strong message to motorists who drive dangerously that this will not be tolerated, and dangerous driving will be punished. Our hope is that deterrence, along with infrastructure and attitude changes will make cycling safer in Kitchener Waterloo.
By not acting, we are signaling to dangerous motorists that this kind of behaviour is acceptable. We suspect the message received by the injured people above, their families and other cyclists is that their safety is of little concern.
We would be happy to discuss road safety as advocates for injured people and look forward to your reply.
Managing Partner & Advocate