Response to Ontario Coroner's Cycling Death Review

posted Aug 12, 2012, 10:18 AM by Graydon Patterson
I wrote an email to the coroners office, after reading the recently released report. The reply was "I once again sorry to hear of your disappointment. Unfortunately, one of our review rules was that all recommendations had to come directly from that data and that was how our recommendations were formed… Anything else, we were unable to consider."
My concerns to them were as follows:

I have read the report, and notwithstanding the limited media highlights, they are not far off:

1. MTO - STreet's Approach - Recommendation for community bike lanes; is very vague as to what is recommended, too much will be left in the hands of the uneducated. Should have read "ALL roads shall be made safe for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, with priority being given to pedestrians and cyclists. All city speed limits will be 40 KMH as a default, instead of the 50 KMH designated now.

2. Ontario Cycling Plan, well, as with all cycling plans, they tend to get forgotten and under-funded. Cycling plans have not worked, the guidelines are just that, and most municipalities, choose the fiscal route, or the one that moves the most cars when it comes down to tough decisions.

The City of Ottawa's cycling plan, for the last 30 years, has called for parallel ped/bike pathways beside all the transit ways. I think one was actually built, and the rest dropped. The additional cost would have been infinitesimal compared to the funded project costs, and would have provided solid cycling commuting routes to everywhere in the city; now, we have sporadic cycling facilities and no where near a complete infrastructure.

This recommendation, as most by you, are too vague.

3. Paved shoulders, aka bike lanes, have their own inherent issues. The most important safety one being is that it often moves cyclists out of the view of motorists. The problem has not been that motorists have been killing cyclists they see, they have killed cyclists when the cyclists are not seen! No cyclists are getting killed riding down the middle of the road, they are being killed on sidewalks, shoulders, pathways and bike lanes.

The second issue is that the shoulders soon become so strewn with debris, they become unsafe to use; and they fill with snowbanks in the winter.

I do think paved shoulders is a good idea and needed, BUT, cyclists will have to be trained how to use them to be safe.

4. Cycling Education, this seems to be more directed at PSA's about helmets, headphones and possibly some motorist targeted messages. Again, too vague as to what you are education and who your targeting. It is easy to target cyclists wearing headphones, or not wearing helmets, but these things aren't killing cyclists on our roadways, its the motorists. What education is begin done to tell motorists cyclists belong on the road?

5. Education pamphlets on new bikes…more land waste. As I said earlier, make them sell bikes with helmets and lights and bells. (well, for little use bells provide anyway)

6. Education in schools…excellent idea…but why are car centric organizations (CCA) and Helmet organizations (Health) going to do the training. Why is it not done under Can-Bike? Obviously the committee has no idea on what Can-Bike does or trains.

Too Vague

7. Updated handbooks…does anyone read these after they get their licence? or Until their 80?

Too Vague

8. yes, an HTA overhaul is much needed, but needs to be written from a cycling perspective. Lets face it, the requirement of a bell on a bike on roadways in Ontraio is pretty useless. What car, truck or bus can hear a typical bicycle bell? Yet it's a requirement by law? Bells are great for pathways, but pathways are not roadways and thus the law doesn't apply there.

There are plenty for examples where there is not enough direction given to cycling specific regulations.

Again, this is too vague.

9. review of municipality acts…wow, couldn't be more vague

What are you trying to convey here? Are you asking municipalities to ensure their visions are for more cycling friendly environments? Or are you leaving it to them to ban cyclists from certain roads, time of day, riding single file as close to the curb as possible?

DO NOT leave decisions about cycling to those who have no concepts of it - that is why we are in the cycling unfriendly situation we are in now.

10 & 11. Helmet use…if you need a helmet, then you have failed. Safety is about preventing the situations that would require a helmet in the first place.

Most people understand the needs for a helmet, its not rocket science. But at the same time, people still smoke, so go figure why some people don't get it. The point is, police have better things to do than chase after stupid people.

12. Excellent recommendation..probably the best thing your committee has done, if implemented. I am not sure how its going to be enforced, but it's a start.

13. Trucks and cyclists are a bad mix. While moving on a highway, there are few issues except the sharing the road one. However, at intersections, cyclists need to be EDUCATED better on how to ride with trucks. And the most important one is never to be stopped with a truck beside you!

This recommendation misses the point, 'cow catchers' are, again, a fail, if needed. Cyclist should never be in a position they need hardware on the truck to keep them from going under the wheels.

14. Enforcement…is of limited value, the real targets need to be aggressive drivers, who number very very small, but who are hard to target. There is some value  in targeting cyclists each year; they are easy to catch and bell/helmet infractions are easy targets. Do these enforcement efforts safe lives, of course not - but are good for stats.

As I said earlier, I am very disappointed - and I do NOT see any support for cycling education, especially Can-Bike in this report.