Onward We Ride: Reflections & Call to Action in 2023
Cycling in Ontario is growing in leaps and bounds. We are proud to say that the cycling community in our province is stronger and more diverse than it has ever been.
Our team is intensely committed to the wellbeing of cyclists. Though we are buoyed by the exponential growth of the community we have at the same time observed some worrying trends in the dangerous attitude of motorists towards cyclists. These trends will guide our advocacy efforts into 2023.
In 2022 we witnessed a major increase in hit and run incidents, crashes due to poor construction practices, unnecessary collisions caused by terrible road design, motorists stopping in bike lanes and/or inattentive driving. Our work has shown us not only the magnitude of the problem but the need for a multi faceted road safety strategy championed by communities and municipal governments across the province.
From your local councilor and mayor to the Premier’s office, we need to constantly demand sweeping reforms that keep us safe.
Failing to do so comes at a massive cost to those injured, their families, employers, communities, and hospitals.
While most municipalities have not released their 2022 motor vehicle collision data (and in many cases even their 2021 data), 2022 saw the following worrying trends/incidents:
Hamilton – 11 cyclists or pedestrians killed in the first 7 months of 2022
*On December 11, 2022, another pedestrian was left in critical condition after being involved in a hit and run.
Kitchener/Waterloo – 9 vulnerable road users killed or seriously injured in one month.
London – 6 vulnerable road users killed or seriously injured in hit and runs.
Toronto – 16 pedestrians and 1 cyclist killed in 2022 and 5 vulnerable road users killed or injured in 5 days in August.
Ottawa – a cyclist was killed by municipal employee in an area of town that community members had long told local leaders speeds were too high and traffic controls needed.
We also had a string of pathetic slap on the wrist sentences handed out to drivers who had killed behind the wheel. Eric Chouinard in Ottawa killed a pedestrian and seriously injured a cyclist. Mr. Chouinard got a six-month conditional sentence.
Robert Enns received a $500 fine and 9 months probation after killing pedestrian Matthew Wilson.
Alongside tragedy, we’ve witnessed triumph.
Hamilton community members leaped into action in the early summer of 2022, lobbying and working with local leaders. They also shut down a main artery in protest. All culminating in hopefully positive changes to Main Street, one of the worst culprits in terms of dangerous interactions between motorists and vulnerable road users.
In Toronto, over 1000 cyclists shut down the Bloor and Keele intersection in protest over biased traffic enforcement and dangerous roads.
Together, we can encourage our elected leaders to enact changes that have meaningful impacts on our ability to get around our communities safely.
In 2023, we need to keep that pressure up and find intersections with communities across our cities, towns, and province. We need to work together on strategies that push for multi-faceted road safety responses that include:
Safe, separate, and consistent infrastructure that priorities the safety of all road users over the need for speed of motorists.
Enhanced driver training and public education campaigns to encourage safe driving habits.
Automated enforcement and a pivot towards administrative penalties for bike lane parking and dangerous driving reports that are highly automated (like parking tickets), involve citizen reporting, and fines set according to income.
A cultural shift in thinking that minimizes incidents of road rage/assault and the selfish individualism that sees ordinary people do extraordinarily dangerous things behind the wheel.
As always, we will continue to shine light into the darkness.
We will work with local cycling and vulnerable road user groups to demand safe streets.
We will represent injured people and where appropriate share their stories and raise their voices to humanize the impacts of road violence.
Together, we will ride, and we will win.
The Biking Lawyer LLP 2022