• Dave Shellnutt

The Dangers of the Parkside Speedway


Parkside Dr. and Spring Rd. (Photo credit Jun Nogami)

On October 12, 2021, Fatima and Valdemar Avila were tragically killed in a motor vehicle collision on Parkside Drive in Toronto. More lives lost due to inattentive and dangerous driving. The local community is grief stricken and angry. Residents who live alongside Parkside Drive had raised concerns repeatedly about road safety issues. Those calls for action have gone largely unanswered. They knew this would happen.


In many ways, so did we.


In July and August, just a month before this tragedy our team was retained by 3 cyclists who were injured by people driving dangerously at Parkside Drive and Bloor Street.


Broken collar bone. Broken knee. Torn ACL.


Each of these injured people will require months, if not years of ongoing care and support. As we told BlogTO then, people drive dangerously here.


Memorial for Fatima and Valdemar Avila (Photo credit Jun Nogami)

The collisions that killed the Avila’s and injured these cyclists were the result of negligent drivers. However, the conditions that precipitated these crashes were in part due to a City Council with a tepid commitment to addressing the root problems that make our roads unsafe.


Two months before Fatima and Valdemar were killed, the City of Toronto and Toronto Police placed speed traps not on Parkside Drive, but in High Park, beside it. The City and Police spent people power and financial resources to ticket cyclists for going down hills at more than 20 km/h.


We sounded the alarm bells then. The City and Police were getting it wrong.


The focus then and now should remain zeroed in on the real problem; the staggeringly higher number of motor vehicle collisions and the disproportionate human carnage that ensues. The Toronto Police’s own data shows no bike vs pedestrian crashes resulting in injury in High Park versus the many car crashes outside of it where someone was hurt or killed when a motor vehicle was involved.


The intersection of these two events, ticking cyclists for speeding and the Avilas’ death, tragically emphasized our point. The Biking Lawyer LLP’s Dave Shellnutt spoke to John Moore on NewsTalk 1010 and emphasized the need for priority based road safety.


Dave echoed the call of community members and road safety advocates that we urgently need speed cameras and reduced speed limit on Parkside Drive.


We also need real penalties and real deterrence in place to curb inattentive and negligent driving that plagues our roadways. We ought to increase fines, require driver re-training, and take away licenses based on the harm caused.


This will help, but nothing on our roads will fundamentally change without a collective shift in our mentality.


People need to see driving as a privilege and not a right.


Your individual need to race to Costco or drop the kids off at soccer practice on time should not create risk of physical injury or death for everyone else. We need to re-think how we drive and always consider the safety of others when we get behind the wheel.


We call on municipal governments to ensure our roads and infrastructure are planned with vulnerable road users in mind. The provincial government must adopt stiffer penalties and a stricter licensing system.


Until then, the Biking Lawyer LLP we will continue to raise our voice when we see failures to properly address road safety. We remain resolute in our dedication to the safety of the cycling community. Through advocacy, Know Your Rights workshops, and specialized care and representation of injured cyclists, we ride with you.


To find out more about what we are doing in the community and keep in touch with us, please sign up to our community newsletter.




*images from vigil held in Parkside neighbourhood in Toronto, by Jun Nogami

Please follow our friends @safeparkside they are doing great community work.

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The Biking Lawyer LLP is a founding organizer and sponsor of the Toronto Bike Brigade. Proceeds from all of our work go to support the Bike Brigade as they deliver food, supplies, and support to communities in need. Solidarity, not charity.

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