Monday, August 31, 2009

Gearing up for Back to School

On Tuesday, September 8th, 2009, the majority of Toronto Students will be retuning to school.

Toronto road users are encouraged to prepare themselves now to make the return to school safer for our children. The Toronto Police Service will be paying special attention to school zones and playgrounds this week to ensure that any poor driving behaviours are addressed now when there are less children around play grounds and school zones.

The ‘Back to School – Getting them Back Safely’ Campaign will commence on September 8th and will run for two weeks to help ensure that the return to school is not compromised by road users who put the safety of our children at risk.

Motorists are reminded that:
- Areas that you drive in this week may be free of children but next week could be very busy with students going to and from school.
- A 10% reduction in speed can mean the difference between hitting a child and having a near miss.

Parents are reminded that:
- This week is an excellent time to remind your children of road safety principles that they may have forgotten over the summer months.
- Use this week to familiarize your children with safe routes to and from school.
- Start your back to school routine this week so that you don’t find yourself rushed or running behind schedule next week.
- Children should walk, not run and cross only at intersections or pedestrian crosswalks.

During last years ‘Back to School’ Campaign there were nearly two collisions per day involving school aged children that were either pedestrians or cycling. Collisions are both predictable and preventable and almost always can be avoided by increasing the time you have to react to a change that occurs in front of you. The easiest way to increase time is to slow down and allow more space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

The Traffic Services Reconstruction Office provided the following details:
- At 60 km/h a car travels at 16.68 meters per second or 54 feet per second
- At 50 km/h a car travels at 13.89 meters per second or 45 feet per second
- At 40 km/h a car travel at 11.12 meters per second or 36 feet per second

Therefore, the slower you travel the less distance you cover each and every second. 9 feet per second can be the difference between life and death. Ask any driver who has ever struck a child and one thing they wish they would have had is more time to react. By travelling slower, you have more time.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Man, 85, dies after struck by truck

Aug 28, 2009 08:50 AM
John Rieti Staff reporter - Toronto Star

An 85-year-old man who was taken to hospital in life-threatening condition after being struck by a pickup truck yesterday morning, has died, said Toronto police.

Emergency crews were called to Lawrence Ave. W. and Marlee Ave., near the Lawrence West subway station, around 10 a.m. yesterday.

Traffic Services said the victim was southbound, crossing Lawrence Ave. on a green light when a white pickup truck heading north tried to make a left turn from Marlee onto Lawrence, striking the victim.

The victim was taken to a hospital in critical condition and later died.

Police said the motorist remained at the scene to help the victim.

~~Editor's Note~~
This year there have been 22 fatal road collision in Toronto. A staggering 68% of those have been pedestrians that have been killed. 15 lives lost in preventable circumstances. Of those 15, the vast majority have been a result of vehicles turning at intersections.

This is completely unacceptable !

For a driver to strike a pedestrian while turning, it is a sign that they are not aware, observant or taking the care and diligence it requires to operate a motor vehicle on our roads. The drivers just aren't watching what is going on around them and in particularly in the direction that they are aiming their vehicles.

Yes, in some instances the pedestrians aren't doing their part to help drivers when they cross near, but not within crossovers, or cross against the traffic controls.

Also very concerning, are the pedestrians that walk just because they think they have the right of way, or do so without looking first and don't take some simple precautions of their own safety by looking first before they step or fail to continue to evaluate the traffic around them as they move.

The right of way must sometimes give way to the right of weight, since a pedestrian will always be on the losing side of that argument. It is far better to pause for preservation that to continue towards a hospital stay....or worse.

Road safety is ever body's responsibility....but it starts with your own safety and extends to those road users around you.

If we all do our own part and trust those around us to do their part, our roads will be a much safer place.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What's so Dangerous?

Re-posted from The Safe Driver, June 16, 2009
Scott Marshall

What do you think the most dangerous thing is that we do as drivers? Is it driving in the winter, on the highway or at night? You might think these are all dangerous things to do, but the most dangerous driving task is turning left at traffic lights. It’s true! Let’s take a look and determine how we can turn left safely.

The first error a lot of drivers do is, if they have to wait for traffic to pass, waiting in the intersection with their wheels angled left. This is a problem if they get bumped from behind. They’ll go directly into the path of the oncoming drivers. Drivers have been killed or severely injured in these types of crashes. The best position is to wait with your wheels straight. If you get bumped, you’re going straight ahead into neutral territory. If you notice the driver behind that isn’t slowing enough, you can always cancel the signal and abandon the turn.

Turning left at a large intersection is a big problem too. The traffic island poses a threat to our visibility. Most drivers tend to angle their vehicle and their wheels to help themselves see oncoming traffic better. Not a great idea, since the front left corner of the vehicle is getting closer to the oncoming traffic every time you move forward to improve your visibility. A better approach may help protect the front left corner of your vehicle and improve your visibility at the same time.

At Young Drivers of Canada, I’ve taught my students to do the “S” approach. You end up in the intersection, in front of the oncoming drivers turning lane, with your vehicle and wheels straight. Begin this procedure by being on the right side of your left turning lane. At two vehicle lengths back from the crosswalk, angle the vehicle close to the end of the island. Once you pass the island, look ahead toward the opposing turning lane and straighten out your vehicle. The path your vehicle has just taken now resembles an “S” shape.

You’ve now moved in front of your own island and opposite the opposing turning lane. Your visibility has improved because you can now look between the lanes of the drivers turning left and the drivers going straight. The front end of your vehicle is tucked into the intersection, away from the drivers driving through the intersection. Doesn’t that sound safer than angling your vehicle? Wait, we’re not done yet.

While you’re waiting for traffic, I would suggest you continually move your eyes to look for a gap in traffic, the crosswalk on your left for pedestrians, your mirror for drivers approaching too fast and the lights, in case they change to amber. If the lights change before you leave, check your left blind spot and begin to creep forward. Make your turn after the last driver passes.

An alternative to turning left is making 3 right turns. Three rights can make a left, but two wrongs don’t make a right!

~~Editor's Note~~
You can follow Scott on Twitter.
He has timely tips and chats and he knows what he is talking about!
Scott's Twitter ID is @safedriver
There is a link to his blog from here, under my blog list on the right side.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Golden Rule - Road user style

I was recently at a very special ceremony that honoured 150 of Toronto's youth who were employed by the Toronto Police Service this summer in a program called, "Youth in Policing Initiative."

It provides youth from several Toronto neighbourhoods the opportunity to work hand in hand with Toronto's finest in all areas of the service.

The Service Chaplain, Reverend Walter Kelly gave a memorable address to these youth and made a particular point to talk about, "The Golden Rule."

I got to thinking about that rule as it relates to driving. How many of us remember the rule...

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

(Yes, I know there are about 20 different ways to say it, but that's my preference, my blog.)

So how does this apply to a "road safety blog"? Simple, let me show you.

1.) You see someone trying to change lanes...signal goes on, shoulder check and you accelerate to stop them. Hmmm, is that what you want done to you?

2.) A driver mistakenly cuts you off. You get enraged and have a little traffic tantrum and give a non-polite hand gesture and cut them off in return. Hey, people make mistakes. Is that what you want people to do to you when you make an honest error?

3.) You're walking along the sidewalk, talking on your cell phone and walk into someone coming the other way...naturally they did not see your obvious importance in life so you make a crack about their ability to watch where they are going. Guess you want the same in return.

4.) Your neighbours 4 year old child is learning how to ride a bicycle. You are in a hurry to get home for dinner and blast through your neighbourhood. Guess you forgot how scary it was to be learning something new. Maybe your neighbour will return the favour when your kids are starting out.

5.) The driver in front of you hesitates when making a left turn on a busy road. In your grand expertise you lay on the horn and begin yelling at their incompetence as a road user. Well, we aren't all as gifted as you and may take more time to ensure safety for others.

6.) The driver in front of you is doing 58k in a 60k zone and you know you can go that 1 k faster so you decide to drive as close to their bumper as you can to give the hint to speed up or get out of the way. Too much work for you to stay back, relax and wait for them to move or pass where it is safe?

OK, so, a couple of those are extreme, but you get the point...I hope. I'm sure you can come up with many more examples on your own.

In the end, just think how much easier and safer we could all get around this great city! Do unto others as you would have them do unto you! Treat others only in ways that you're willing to be treated in the same exact situation.

Help people merge, change lanes. Allow pedestrians to cross the street safely by paying attention and being patient. Forgive people for mistakes they make, it's not personal so don't take it that way. Wave and show regret when you make a mistake and someone points it out to you.

Road safety is every one's your part and use the roads by practising "The Golden Rule."

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Poll Results and New Poll Question

The results of the most recent poll are in and it is not a surprise how each class ended in the voting. In a non-scientific poll posted on this site, you were asked:

What class of road user is the most dangerous?

Automobile (car, light truck, van etc.) = 35%
Bicycles = 35%
Commercial Motor Vehicle (big rigs, buses) = 5%
Motorcycles = 8%
Pedestrians = 10%
Other wheel device (skateboard, roller blade) = 2%

Once again, missing some percentage...I suspect some people are trying to vote multiple times from the same computer.

It's interesting that automobiles and bicycles shared top spot. Depending on what you read, bicycles account for only 5% of the commuter traffic in Toronto yet they are seen as being just as dangerous as cars. I also found it amusing that we were willing to label pedestrians with 10%. I guess people were being really honest or missed the fact that we are all pedestrians, or have the attitude that 'other pedestrians' are the problem, not me!

OK, here is the reality of the poll and one anonymous poster got it and made the comment on this blog. "The class of road user who is the most dangerous is the one that pays the least attention to the task at hand. :)".

A mode of transportation in itself is not dangerous. The people who operate the vehicles determine the danger by their ability, skills, knowledge and attention.

Don't judge an entire class of road user by the choices or behaviours of a few. What we all need to do is ensure that each one of us pays attention, limits all distractions, obeys the rules of the road and cooperates with one another.

Road safety is every one's responsibility.


School returns on Tuesday September 8. When is the best time to teach children road/bus safety?

Now while there is less traffic around school zones.
On the first day of school.
When there is an event that provides a teaching point.

You can let us know by voting on the right side of this blog.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Lakeshore Blvd at Yonge Street Enforcement

Yesterday Toronto media outlets reported that many motorists were surprised to find out that the intersection of Yonge Street and Lakeshore Blvd has a new traffic pattern.

For years the alignment has been one dedicated turn lane from eastbound Lakeshore to northbound Yonge and the adjacent lane gave the option of turning north or continuing east on Lakeshore.

The new layout has one dedicated turn lane to northbound Yonge only.

The stir was all about motorists being ticketed for making illegal left hand turns or what is commonly referred to as double lefts.

I drove through the area this morning to see what the problem is...and I couldn't find one. Three eastbound lanes all marked exceptionally well, overhead signage telling you the paths of travel for each lane, road markings indicating the direction of travel for each lane.

This realignment reportedly took place in March along with a great deal of construction to the area. The construction work has wrapped up for the most part and all the lane markings and signage have been done.

An addition to the intersection is a new pedestrian crossing on the north side of the intersection that was never there before.

So people are complaining that the police are enforcing the law there. I complain that if you are getting ticketed there you are a driver that needs some enforcement because you are apparently an unaware driver that bases decisions on routine.

There is so much signage and the road markings are so clear this is a mistake that should not be happening. If you are a driver that travels a route and you are in the habit of making the same turns, lane changes and paths of travel choices because you do it all the time, then you need to re-think how you drive.

Driving should never be performed in a state of memory since the environment around you is always changing. You should be paying attention all the time and when things change, you should not be have to be prepared.

If you truly were not aware and not prepared, don't make an illegal movement just because it is what you have always done, change your route, be fluid and re-group.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Bicycle Safety Clinic and Rodeo

On Saturday August 15, 2009, Toronto Police, City of Toronto, The Breakfast Club of Toronto, Canadian Tire, Leons, Humber College and many more sponsors held a Bicycle Rodeo and Skills Clinic.

All the children who took part walked away with some ...valuable road safety skills, a good understanding of basic rules of the road and a new bicycle helmet. The kids also had the opportunity to talk with community leaders, interact with police officers and make new friends.

The police officers had a great time working with these children at a 'grass roots level', teaching them valuable road skills and imparting some very important life skills.

A great time was had by all!!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Did you bring it along?

Reposted from the blog Scott Marshall aka "The Safe Driver"
Check out more of his work at

I love driving. To be honest, it relaxes me. I know it doesn’t for a lot of people. For the 21 years as a driving instructor, I’ve spoken to many people who hate driving with a passion. Why? If there’s something they don’t like about driving, why not find out how to fix it? I’m sure it would make them feel better.

As I drive, to work, to soccer, to take my kids anywhere, I see a lot of angry drivers. Why are they so angry? Do they take a course in being nasty on the road? Probably not. But why would they do that to other drivers? I’m sure they would be annoyed if someone did that to a loved one of theirs.

One of the drivers on the series Canada’s Worst Driver felt everyone was out to get him. He actually believed that. When it was brought to his attention that the other drivers on the show couldn’t drive, he actually understood that drivers make mistakes. Most weren’t doing it on purpose, rather because they didn’t know how not to do it.

I can imagine how these people respond to people at their work place when someone else makes a mistake. Do they start yelling at them and screaming obscenities at them all of a sudden? Most likely they don’t do that, but what’s the difference? What brings out the negative attitude in the car?

Recently when I was driving, I needed to make a lane change so I could turn left onto the upcoming street. There was a van behind me in the left lane so I sped up to increase the space between us so I could change lanes safely. As I sped up and signaled my intention, he sped up. Why? I then sped up some more and so did he. I decided to slow down so he could pass and as he passed, I went in behind him. When I pulled into the left turning lane beside him I glanced over at him. He was glaring at me and mouthing off. Why did he feel it was necessary to block drivers from doing safe maneuvers? I’ve never understood the logic in that, or with yelling at someone through a closed window.

It’s interesting that we can “mirror” someone by acting a certain way. If we get mean with rage at other drivers, they do the same with drivers near them. But if we do nice things, that gets transferred to the other drivers as well.

As drivers we need to remember to relax and enjoy the drive. Take in the scenery and enjoy each moment. Smile at other drivers and they may smile at someone else. Just imagine the stress you’re avoiding by not bringing road rage to almost every day of your driving life. It may help increase your life if you leave the rage elsewhere.

~~My Addition...if I may~~

Along with a smile, try a polite wave if you make a mistake and someone points it out to you or you realize your error. Nothing says I'm sorry like saying, "I'm sorry".

Poll Results & New Poll Question

In a non-scientific poll posted on this site, you were asked:
Since the new sanctions for drinking and driving (Warn Range Suspensions) were enacted on May 1, 2009 do you:

Drink less if you are driving: 50%
Ensure there is a designated driver: 7%
Rely more on taxi, transit, limo: 7%
Haven't changed my behaviour: 35%

Once again there is a missing one percent...I really wish I knew were it keeps disappearing to.

This is a good news poll in my opinion. I love hearing that people are making the decision to drink less. You know the response of all police officers and road safety advocates...if you drink, don't drive. The designated driver is a great option as long as they stick to no drinking. Just like transit, taxi's and limos, putting the driving in the hands of a sober person is an awesome choice.
I hope that the people that haven't changed their behaviour are the ones that never drink and drive in the first place. If it is the alternative, I hope we meet real soon and not by accident.

That brings me to the new poll question for the week. Recently there have been several high profile investigations involving every class of road user. So I'll ask you:
What class of road user is the most dangerous?

Automobile (car, light truck, van etc.)
Commercial Motor Vehicle (big rigs, buses)
Other wheel device (skateboard, roller blade)

You can let me know by voting on the right side of this blog.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vote for Ontario's (Toronto's) Worst Roads

Thanks to the CAASCO for providing the information below. This information is from their website, where if you go now, you can have your vote for Ontario's Worst Roads.

Basic Facts About Bad Roads

Poor road conditions can cause costly wear and tear on your vehicle. And that's not all - they put your safety at risk. They're bad for the environment. And they can affect your insurance rates.

Over 350 fatalities and 25,000 injuries each year can be directly related to poor roads, according to Transport Canada.

Hitting potholes and consistently driving on poorly maintained roads throws out wheel alignment and diminishes the treads on tires, making it harder to steer in bad weather. In turn, this increases your risk of puncturing a tire.

Roads tend to crumble first at the edges, where cyclists tend to ride. This puts cyclists at significant risk of crashing or losing control if they hit a pothole or must swerve to avoid large cracks in the road.

Congested roads lead to a need for increased braking, causing premature wear on the brakes and decreasing safe stopping distances.

Police in regions like Cambridge report highway congestion can lead to stressed motorists and incidents of road rage.

Steering linkage damage causes poor steering responses, often causing the driver to either over-correct or under-steer the vehicle. This can cause drivers to lose control of their automobiles and lead to serious accidents.

Insurers provide policy coverage in case your vehicle sustains damage due to poor road conditions - such as potholes - in the form of optional collision coverage.

Collision coverage is optional and not all motorists purchase the coverage.

A deductible is almost always associated with collision coverage. It is the portion of the loss that the policyholder agrees to pay, in most cases $500.

In many cases, the deductible is more than the damage incurred by a collision with "the surface of the ground."

A collision loss may affect the future insurability of a motorist or may have an affect on your premiums.

In the case of injuries, it doesn't matter if you do not have collision coverage, your automobile insurance policy will still provide coverage.

If your insurer responds with coverage for your claim and believes the municipality is responsible by reason of not maintaining the roads, they will fight on your behalf.

More than 80 per cent of foreign multinational executives believe Canada's poorly maintained infrastructure adversely affects investors.

The Ontario Chamber of Commerce says congestion costs Southern Ontario $2 billion each year.
More than 1.5 million Ontario jobs depend on being able to move exports to the U.S. by road.
75 per cent of all goods exported to the U.S. are moved by truck on Ontario roads.

A recent Ontario Good Roads Study of 35 municipalities showed they needed to spend $700 million dollars per year on road maintenance, but were only spending $255 million.

The City of Toronto is more than $300 million behind in scheduled road maintenance.

In 2003, Toronto paid out $110,000 in pothole claims to motorists.

Over the first 12 years of a road's life, it only costs $1,000 to maintain each lane/km of road surface. But, if no maintenance is done by the 15 to 17 year mark, the road could require reconstruction at a cost as high as $250,000 per lane/km.

Despite the federal and provincial governments taking in approximately $7 billion from Ontario motorists each year, municipal governments are expected to fund most road repairs through property tax revenues.

Congested roads lead to idling vehicles, which produce 77 per cent more greenhouse gas emissions than vehicles not caught on congested roads.

Every 10 minutes of idling costs at least one-tenth of a litre in wasted fuel.
A vehicle with poor wheel alignment and worn-out tire treads caused by poor road conditions or potholes can increase fuel consumption by three per cent - and also increase its greenhouse gas emissions.

The American Highway Users Alliance reports adequate repairs to highways could reduce smog-contributing emissions by 50 per cent, and would reduce rush hour delays by 74 per cent, saving commuters an average of 30 minutes each day.

A Norwegian study released in March 2007 has found conclusive evidence that strategies such as road realignments, sufficient width of roads and vehicle capacity give traffic the ability to flow steadily, leading to fewer vehicle emissions. These strategies are regarded as positive contributions to a sustainable environment.

Dioxide emissions double when car speeds drop from 55 to 30 km/hour. Hydrocarbon emissions triple at speeds less than 60 km/hour compared to a constant speed of 80 km/hour.

Intelligent Transportation Systems - in the form of synchronized traffic lights, road sensors and message boards - can help improve traffic flow and reduce pollution emissions by up to 6 per cent.

Municipal responsibilities - How to file a claim
Municipalities are responsible for the majority of roads in Ontario. A set of standards exists for such things as:

Routine road inspections
Snow removal
Sanding and salting
Road sign and signal maintenance
Repair of potholes

Motorists can submit claims to their municipality for vehicle damages or for an injury caused due to bad or deteriorating road conditions, such as potholes. Usually you are required to go to the city's clerk's office and put a claim in writing.

It is important to note municipalities are protected by very strict time limits for making claims against them. In Ontario, for legal action relating to road repair, a municipality must be put on notice within 10 days of the occurrence, and any action must be brought against them within two years of the event. The claim should include:

Date and location of the incident
Details of what happened
Names of city staff involved
Damages sustained

The claim will then be forwarded to the city's insurance adjusters for evaluation. A letter of acknowledgement should be sent to the claimant within two weeks of the submission.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No charges in fatal bike accident

Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun
August11, 2009.

Had the tires on the bike that killed Cheng Li Jiang on a Kennedy Rd. sidewalk been a tad bigger, her death would have merited an $85 fine.

As it stands now there are no charges, no fine, no nothing.

Kind of cheap for the taking of a life of a wife and mother of two who was just going out to the store!

It was only a matter of time before somebody on a sidewalk would be killed by a speedy cyclist.

It's up to us if we want to stop there being more. Had that bike had a licensed adult on the pedals, perhaps dangerous driving charges could have been laid or even criminal negligence causing death.

But this cyclist was a 15-year-old on a kid's bike and it's only larger, adult-style bicycles that a city bylaw bans from sidewalks.

Translation? The tragic death of Jiang, 56, means nothing in terms of the law.

She died in hospital Friday after landing on her head Thursday and that's the end of it.
Unless, of course, we decide to change it. And we had better.

"There have been three horrible bike accidents in the past four days," says a frustrated Sgt. Tim Burrows of Toronto Police's traffic services.

"And we have had too many close calls."

Neale Gifford is one who recently had one.
"Sidewalks do belong to pedestrians," says Neale.

"Cyclists do complain about cars. But what about pedestrians who are terrorized? The biggest issue is the lack of enforcement of the law. Patrolling police cruisers ignore sidewalk cyclists."

It's a huge problem and an emergency meeting of council is needed and a whole new approach to bikes on the roads needs to be implemented.

And perhaps the horrible death of Cheng Li, who came to Toronto eight years ago from Shanghai, China, could be the catalyst to change.

It's the least Toronto could do for her.

"I don't understand any of this," says her brother, John Jiang, who was clearly angry.
"What is with the mayor and council collecting all of the taxes and not keeping people safe going for a walk on the sidewalk?"

Her family -- husband, JinBio Fang, and sons, Yuan Fang, 27, and Zheng Fang, 30 -- is devastated.

"She had a big heart," says John Jiang. "We are so sad."

Funeral arrangements are pending and her family says they are contacting a lawyer to look into the events surrounding this senseless death.

Councillor Michael Walker has been warning of this possibility for years.

"Sooner or later a government is going to get sued," he says.

His recommendation is already before council urging them to license all cyclists and ensure that they have proper training and safety equipment.

Another thing that should come out of this is a coroner's inquest.

Meanwhile, Toronto Police are still investigating. But you can see the problem. First of all you are dealing with a 15-year-old and the fact that there is no criminal intent. There is also no law that says that bike is not to be on the sidewalk.

"They both saw each other and failed to negotiate that," said Burrows, who wants to see bikes off sidewalks.

It's not lost on anybody that had that been a car which struck and killed the woman, you know there would be charges laid. It's also not lost that people riding their bikes on pedestrian sidewalks are out of control in every part of the city.

And it has to stop. It is a bylaw offence to do that and it's downright dangerous. It's scary to go for a walk anymore.

Walker is correct in his view that all people operating bikes should be licensed and subject to testing and that all safety concerns have to be addressed.

The veteran councillor would like to see only kids under 12 allowed to ride on sidewalks and proper training for everyone else who bikes on the road.

One problem police have noticed is older teens or even adults are using smaller BMX-style children's bikes for what Burrow's calls "skirting underneath" the standards and making it difficult for police to charge them.

Walker's idea would certainly take care of that.

Meanwhile, the city should call in Toronto Police Const. Hugh Smith, who has given 1,400 cops cycle training and could really help get this city up to proper standards.

He would like to see it mandatory for cyclists to wear helmets, identifying safety vests and gloves and be subject to a Highway Traffic Act offence should they not properly follow the rules of the road.

Of course there are some hoping this little mishap will just go away and die like Cheng Li Jiang did.

Perhaps there will be more who would join her family in wanting to learn something from her death and use it to prevent more tragedies.


~~Editor's Note~~
The investigation of this incident is still on-going. The article is correct that no charges have been laid, but until the investigation is fully comlete, the Toronto Police will not state that charges will not be laid.
The fine for riding on the sidewalk in Scarborough is $3.75.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A bad week for bicycles: ‘We need to tell people, smarten up’

By Michael McKiernan, National Post

Police say Torontonians need a refresher on bicycle safety after three accidents in the last week left one person dead and two more with life-threatening injuries.

Although police say serious incidents involving bicycles are rare, the end of the city strike, combined with a spell of better weather, has increased the number of recreational cyclists on the roads.

“We need to tell people: Listen, smarten up. There are certain rules that you really have to pay attention to because they really are lifesavers,” said Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Traffic Services department. “We’ve had some very stark reminders this week about the dangers, but we would much rather say it than show it.”

On Thursday, a 15-year-old riding on the sidewalk hit a 57-year-old woman. She died after cracking her head on the pavement.

Although city bylaws allow bikes as small as the child’s on the sidewalk, Sgt. Burrows says cyclists should stick to the road.

“Bicycles are made for the roads,” he said, adding that riders who feel unsure about riding on the road should take lessons until they feel confident enough.

“If it’s still too scary for you, maybe you should reconsider your mode of transportataion,” he said.

On Friday, a 44-year-old man, also riding on the sidewalk, was left with serious injuries after a car hit him at the entrance to Yorkdale Mall. Both had made the turn into the mall from opposite directions.

Then on Sunday, a 50-year-old man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries when he crashed into a bridge support on Royal York Road on an evening ride with his children. He took his eye off the road to check on one of the children and hit the concrete support holding up CN rail tracks above.

The rider in that incident, as with the other two, was not wearing a helmet.

“There’s no way to quantify how serious the injuries would be had he been wearing a helmet, but that’s something we would always recommend,” Sgt. Burrows said.

It’s not just cyclists that have a responsibility to improve safety, according to Constable Hugh Smith, who used to patrol the streets with Toronto Police’s bike unit.

“Bicycles have a right to be on our roads and they shouldn’t have to be fearful because they’re worried about what a driver’s going to do,” he said.

In June, Const. Smith was involved in a week-long bicycle safety enforcement campaign. Around 2,000 tickets were handed out to cyclists for disobeying traffic signals or improper equipment, while 3,500 motorists were fined for failing to yield to cyclists and opening doors carelessly.

“Everybody feels a bit like they’re being targeted, but really it’s about making cyclists and motorists aware and keeping them safe,” he said.

Information for Safer Roads & Sidewalks

Sidewalks are for Pedestrians campaign

From the city if Toronto website:

Pedestrians use sidewalks to travel safely along busy city streets. During the summer months sidewalks are congested with pedestrians, cafes and vendors. When cyclists, in-line skaters and scooters are also involved, conflicts arise that could be prevented.

A City bylaw allows cyclists with a tire size of 61cm or 24 inches or less to ride on the sidewalk. The intent of this bylaw is to allow young children to cycle on the sidewalk while they learn to ride. The bylaw is based on wheel size because it is difficult for Police to enforce age-based bylaws, as most children do not carry identification. This is a municipal bylaw and rules vary in communities across Ontario.

The Toronto bylaw states that riding a bicycle with tire size over 61cm (24 inches) on sidewalks is prohibited, as is riding/operating a bicycle (or roller skates, in-line skates, skateboard, coaster, toy vehicle) on a sidewalk without due care and attention and reasonable consideration for others. The fine in downtown Toronto for not following this bylaw is $90 and aggressive cyclists can also be charged with careless driving.

There are many hazards involved when cycling on the sidewalks. If a cyclist hits a pedestrian, the injuries can be severe. Seniors are especially vulnerable and can fall merely by being startled. Anyone with a visual or hearing impairment is at increased risk.

Many cyclists ride on the sidewalk because they are afraid of cars. But choosing to ride on the sidewalk does not eliminate the risk of a car and bike collision. Cycling on the sidewalk is a contributing factor in 30 per cent of car and bike collisions. Collisions occur when cyclists ride off the sidewalk into the roadway or when motorists are exiting a laneway or driveway.

What to teach young cyclists about cycling on the sidewalk:
  • Always yield to pedestrians.
  • Get off and walk your bike or put your foot down.
  • Ride slowly.
  • Always walk your bike through a crosswalk or crossover (Fines apply if not followed).
  • Use a bell or horn to let pedestrians know that you are there.
  • Make eye contact with drivers.
  • Assume that drivers don't see you.
  • Look for cars in driveways, laneways and at intersections and be prepared to stop.
  • Expect pedestrians to exit from stores.
To teach skills and give riders confidence in riding on the road, the City offers CAN-BIKE cycling courses for children and adults. Call 416-338-0000 to register or go to and click on CAN-BIKE.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Far too many of us drive no better than a 7-year-old

By Paul Berton - Editorial, London Free Press

Is it a tool, a toy or a weapon? Is it a bathroom, a living room, a multi-media room?

Or is it a vehicle? One specifically designed to get you from Point A to Point B as safely as possible?

Believe it or not, the question is relevant given the mind-boggling behaviour of "drivers" in our car-obsessed society.

The incidents of dangerous and careless driving are too numerous to quantify. The amount of speeding drivers is increasing. The number of motorists who try to multi-task behind the wheel -- making phone calls, reading documents, combing hair, applying makeup, drinking coffee, eating hamburgers -- is endless.

The number of deaths on our roads is unacceptable.

And the number of stories that challenge even common sense is astounding.

Most recently, a YouTube video has surfaced showing a seven-year-old perched precariously on the edge of the driver's seat of an SUV, so he can reach the pedals. As the car he is "driving" travels at speeds of up to 70 km/h, his mother, unbuckled with a toddler on her lap, looks on nervously from the back seat, while the boy's "proud" father videotapes it from the front passenger seat.

Not surprisingly, the provincial police are investigating, but the message already from Quebec road and safety officials is that parents are encouraging bad driving habits among young people.

There are endless examples of children years away from the legal driving age getting behind the wheel of various vehicles, for various reasons, but that's only the beginning.

Once the rest of us get "certified" for the legal care and control of a motor vehicle, we believe we have "licences" to drive badly, aggressively, thoughtlessly, carelessly, dangerously, and generally exhibit the kind of behaviour we might not expect from even a seven-year-old.

Imagine being a pedestrian or a cyclist on the road where the seven-year-old was driving. Imagine walking your dog or accompanying a child across a crosswalk and spying this boy behind the wheel.

Now imagine that too often this is the kind of mentality behind the wheel in the lane next to you on the freeway or a busy downtown street, or approaching you on a rural road. Except it's not a dream; too often it's reality.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Poll Results and New Poll Question

Poll Results and New Poll Question

In a non-scientific poll posted on this site, you were asked:

As of June 30th, traffic fatalities are down 39% in the city of Toronto compared to last year. This is most likely the result of:
Increased road safety awareness = 28%
Paramedics and ambulance personnel = 0%
New legislation for alcohol and aggressive driving = 40%
Pure Luck = 40%
(I know...doesn't add up to 100%, multiple answers were allowed.)

I don't think that there is any luck involved with this least I certainly hope it isn't luck. I believe that the other three options play a huge role in this significant decrease. There has certainly been more road safety awareness over the last year, due in large part to some significant new legislation. But, we certainly can't overlook the amazing job that our paramedics and ambulance services do. When you look at the magic hour of trauma victims, the better the initial care and transport to a hospital, the greater the chances are for survival.

Finally, don't sell yourselves short! I say that road safety is everyone's responsibility, but it starts with you. Many of you must be taking that to heart because without your alert and attentive road use there would be no success!

New poll question:
Since the new sanctions for drinking and driving (Warn Range Suspensions) were enacted on May 1, 2009 do you:

You can vote on the right side of this blog

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

58 Drives Licences Suspended in Toronto Over the Long Weekend

Long weekends have a reputation for creating carnage on our roadways. Thankfully in Toronto this past weekend, July 31st to August 3rd, there were no lives lost on Toronto's Streets.

On behalf of Toronto Police officers, thank-you for helping to save lives. We know that no matter how much education, awareness and enforcement we do, the bottom line for road safety is your behaviour and the choices you make.

Alert, attentive and responsible road use, whether you are a pedestrian, cyclist, or motor vehicle operator, is the true determining factor for saving lives.

Having said all that, here are the numbers of the people that did almost everything they could to destroy all the good work of so many.

Warn range (Section 48 of the Highway Traffic Act) = 26
26 persons lost their licences for three days.
Over legal limit or refusing breath (Sec. 48.3 of the HTA) = 20
20 persons lost their licences for 90 days...and that's just the beginning of their problems.
Extreme driving; aka Stunt/Racing (Sec. 172 of the HTA) = 12
12 persons lost their licences for 7 days and also the cars they were operating.

Those are the people who are endangering everyones lives in Toronto by making terrible choices that can have significant consequences to public safety and which can leave a lasting mark on so many lives.

There is never an excuse to have to drive after drinking. Phone a friend, take public transit, use a designated driver.

As far as the extreme are in complete control of your vehicle. If you got caught for a behaviour that fits the charge, than you have no one to blame but yourself.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Do cyclists need to stop at a stop sign?

~~Editors Note~~
I LOVE THIS ARTICLE...actually I love the comments, all 215 when I posted this. I have figured out three truths because of this article:
1.) Cyclists hate drivers and pedestrians.
2.) Pedestrians hate cyclists and drivers.
3.) Drivers hate cyclists and pedestrians.

We watched 159 cyclists approach a busy intersection. Only 21 came to a full stopIt drives motorists crazy, but some cyclists believe it's safer to ignore stop signs
Aug 02, 2009 04:30 AM - The Star

Comments on this story (215) Dave Feschuk Feature Writer

"Life," Albert Einstein once said, "is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving." You don't need to be a genius to know that riders of bicycles in this city keep their balance in no end of illegal ways.

They keep moving steadily, for instance, through the four stop signs that decorate the intersection of Beverley and Baldwin Sts. On any given morning you can watch the streams of pedal-powered commuters approaching that four-way stop, most of them rolling downhill to the downtown core, almost all of them treating the four-letter word on the red octagon like an impolite suggestion.

Some of them, like the gent in the dirty jeans with the liquor-store bag dangling from the handlebars, blithely blow through the intersection as though it does not exist, no matter the steady stream of motor traffic flowing alongside that treats the stop signs with more respect.

Most of them, like the woman in the Hollywood-large sunglasses perched atop the of-the-moment army-green folding bike, pause from pedalling to survey the flow while coasting, resuming their rhythm when it's safe to proceed.

Only a very few actually, fully, stop. To obey the Highway Traffic Act to its letter, after all, would be to contravene other statutes.

"There's an unwritten law, the law of preservation of momentum, that all cyclists follow," said Yvonne Bambrick, the executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union.

The rolling stop – or, in some cycling circles, the Idaho Stop – is as popular as it is illegal, and there are those who will tell you it's also perfectly safe. Bambrick, among other cycling supporters and bloggers, is advocating its legalization, citing common sense and a compelling precedent.

Cyclists in Idaho have been legally permitted to treat stop signs as yield signs since 1982. And though the Idaho law was brought in by legislators to help relieve the pressure on a crowded traffic-court system, cycling-savvy proponents of its further spread argue it would make cycling more efficient, more appealing and ultimately more popular. In places bent on curbing car usage, it's a compelling argument.

Writing new traffic laws for a community of cyclists notorious for shirking the ones already on the books, of course, is also an inflammatory argument. Before fed-up motorists clog the rant-radio phone lines in opposition, Bambrick begs a moment to explain.

"(The Idaho Stop) is not just blowing a stop sign," said Bambrick. "It's slowing down enough so that you could come to a stop if you needed to. You slow down, you look right, you look left, you look right again, you look ahead ... I really think it's something worth pursuing. It's been proven effective in Idaho for some 20 years. If they can do it down there, why can't we give it a try in Toronto?"

Indeed, rolling-stop advocates will tell you that Idaho's bicycle accidents decreased some 14 per cent in the year after the stop-sign law was enacted. Cyclists bent on preserving momentum are also intensely interested in preserving flesh and blood, after all, and because they're not shielded by the barriers of hood and windshield and door they are more aware of their surroundings than motorists. The argument has been made that a cyclist devoting energy to clear-eyed and open-eared awareness – rather than to the vagaries of gearing down and/or slowing down – puts safety top of mind.

Mind you, whether or not Idaho's example is relevant to Ontario – and any change to traffic law would be a provincial matter – is debatable. In 1982, the population of Boise, Idaho's biggest city, was about 100,000. Today, Boise's population is about double that, which means it's the size of Saskatoon, which means it is home to less than one-third of Scarborough's populace. In other words, if a bike rolls through a stop sign at an otherwise-deserted intersection, what's the harm?

In busier urban centres, meanwhile, other bike advocates worry that legalizing the rolling stop would lead to wider disregard of the signs on already chaotic streets.

"If you loosen up the rules too much, people will just barrel right through the stop sign and they'll get killed that way," said Brian Maclean, president of the Toronto Bicycling Network, a club for recreational cyclists. Said Charles Akben-Marchand, past president of Citizens for Safe Cycling, an Ottawa-based bike safety organization: "It could be something better left to the discretion of the enforcers, rather than the legislators. In Ottawa, it's against the law to ride a bike on the sidewalk, but I've talked to police officers who say they won't give a ticket to anyone under 12."

Still, enforcement of the letter of stop-sign law persists, at least in Toronto. June saw the Toronto police run its "Safe Cycling: Share the Responsibility" campaign, a one-week blitz that saw 669 cyclists ticketed for ignoring stop signs, an offence that comes with a $110 fine.

"Encouraging more bicycling as opposed to car use is a good thing," said Jim Baross, 62, a cycling safety advocate in California, where there have been low-level rumblings about adopting the Idaho stop. "But ... on a public roadway, everybody gets along more safely and more efficiently if we all follow the same rules."

Execution for Drunk Driving

High time to get drunks off road
We need to torque up the consequences for those who stubbornly refuse to get the message

Rob Clancy, Calgary Sun, Sunday August2, 2009

China has taken a new step in its campaign against drunk driving.

It has sentenced a 30-year-old man to death for killing four people while driving under the influence of alcohol.

We don't think that's what Mothers Against Drunk Driving had in mind when they called for stiffer penalties against impaired driving in the wake of a rash of deaths in Alberta last month.
After all, they're in the business of trying to save lives, not take them.

But the Chinese example, extreme as it is, illustrates the growing frustration with the battle to make a dent in the carnage caused by drunk drivers.

Out of 28 fatalities in Alberta in July, police believe alcohol might have been a factor in 15.
By the time you read this, those numbers will likely have spun higher.

The August long weekend is one of the deadliest and August is one of the worst months of the year for injury and death caused by drunk driving.

There is some good news on Alberta roads these days. Traffic fatalities and injuries plummeted more than 10% from 2007 to 2008. The bad news is impaired driving charges increased 14% in Alberta.

But the number of motorists popped for guzzling too much booze doesn't tell the whole story about the problem.

It's even more frightening that alcohol was a factor in 22% of fatal crashes.

As one cop who must deal with the aftermath of these road deaths points out, the statistics don't provide an inkling of the blood and grief involved.

"They're not just numbers, those are families that are affected forever," said Insp. James Stiles, who is charge of traffic services for the RCMP.

Police and groups such as MADD have spent years spreading the message about the dangers of drinking and driving, but many of these dangerous drunks don't seem to be getting the message.
The number of drunk-driving related collisions isn't dropping. No wonder MADD wants to see tougher penalties.

Spokesman Andrew Murie told The Canadian Press he'd like Alberta to follow the lead of provinces that hand out lengthy roadside suspensions for drivers who blow more than .05, even though the legal limit is .08.

Some proponents suggest lowering the legal limit to .05 would save hundreds of lives. They say the current limit allows individuals to drive after consuming a large quantity of alcohol and most police won't press charges unless a driver blows .10 or higher.

Lowering the limit to .05 would allow the average person to enjoy a social drink or two, but after that, they'd know they were in the danger zone -- either of getting arrested or killing or maiming themselves or another human.

The harsher sentences MADD has pushed for have made a difference, but not enough.
It's time to torque up the consequences for those who stubbornly refuse to heed the message that drunk driving destroys lives and shatters families.