Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Ban On Hand-Held Devices Starts In October

September 30, 2009 10:45 AM

McGuinty Government Making Ontario's Roads Safer

Ontario's ban on hand-held devices while driving will take effect on October 26, 2009.The new law will make it illegal for drivers to talk, text, type, dial or email using hand-held cell phones and other hand-held communications and entertainment devices.

Following a three-month period that begins October 26, where the focus will be on educating drivers, police will start issuing tickets on February 1, 2010.

Studies show that a driver using a cell phone is four times more likely to be in a crash than a driver focused on the road. Other studies show that dialing and texting carries the highest degree of risk of all cell phone-related activities. Police, paramedics and firefighters will continue to be allowed to use hand-held devices when performing their duties. All drivers may use hand-held devices to call 9-1-1.


Under Ontario's new law, fines of up to $500 can be levied against distracted drivers who text, type, email, dial, or chat using a prohibited hand-held device.

Ontario joins more than 50 countries worldwide and a growing number of North American jurisdictions that have similar distracted driving legislation including Quebec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, California and New York.

Teens and young people under 35 are the most frequent users of cell phones while driving.

Read more about Ontario's new road rules for the use of wireless communication and electronic entertainment devices while driving, including exemptions.
Review key research on the effects of driving while distracted.
Read scenarios that show how drivers can make a few simple changes to comply with the new law.
Find out more about the Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009.

Bob NicholsCommunications Branch
Nicole Lippa-GasparroMinister's Office416-327-1815
Ministry of

"It is not safe to be texting, e-mailing or dialing a phone when you are driving a vehicle. Now it is also illegal."
– Jim BradleyMinister of Transportation

Woman, 88, dies after being hit by tractor-trailer


An 88-year-old North York woman is dead after being struck by a tractor-trailer that left the scene.

Bernice "Bonnie" Field was standing at the southwest corner of Jane Street and Wilson Avenue when an eastbound transport truck making a right turn hit her at 11:22 a.m. Tuesday.

The senior, who lived in a nearby building, has two children, four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and three great-great-grandchildren.

"Today is the day that we end the fifth generation," said Field's granddaughter, Cheryl Migliaccio. "It's a shame of how it went out. It's all the circle of life I guess."
Police said the victim was hit by the rear wheels of the tractor-trailer.
Field suffered massive blood loss and leg trauma and was pronounced dead at the scene.

"The trucker may not have even known that he struck her," Const. Hugh Smith said.
Grieving relatives described Field as a very active and independent woman.

"You couldn't keep her down," said daughter Carolyn Beale. "She had a walker, and she could walk faster than me."

Beale was going bowling when she came across the accident scene. When she took a closer look, she noticed her mother's shoe on the roadway.

"The EMS fellow came over to me. I said, 'Can I go in the ambulance to see her?' He said, 'No, you're going to have to wait. They're working on her,'" Beale said. "About five minutes later, he came back to me and said, 'I'm sorry to give you bad news. She's gone.'"

Field was a member of a church group that holds services in her building every Sunday.
"She was a very loving, compassionate person," said pastor Pauline Scott, adding Field was "a very devoted member of the congregation."

The tractor-trailer that hit Field had the word "xtra" in red lettering on the back.

Police are also looking for Field's black walker. "It was reported to be in the victim's possession prior to the collision," Smith said. "It may be attached to the trailer or it may have been picked up by someone."

Smith noted police are collecting surveillance videos from businesses in the area.
Anyone with information is asked to call the traffic services unit at 416-808-1900.
Photo courtesy of Staff photo/ANDREW PALAMARCHUK

Friday, September 25, 2009

Major Traffic Disruptions September 27, 2009 for Toronto

Toronto is a world class City that attracts world class events. This weekend will be no exception with several things happening all across the City that will have substantial impacts on traffic, especially on Sunday, September 27th.

Traffic Services strongly urges everyone planning to visit Toronto or those who live here to be aware of the events and subsequent road closures and detours that will have an impact on their travels.

Tips for Getting Around:

  • Use public transit wherever/whenever possible (TTC/GO)
  • Leave plenty of extra time
  • Know alternate routes to avoid areas of potential traffic distruption
  • Avoid unneccessary travel by combining multiple trips into one when possible
  • Remain calm, alert and aware
  • Use alternate routes well beyond the anticipated road closures (those routes closest to closures are naturally the most congested)
  • Know before you go
  • Travel with water to drink incase you get stuck in traffic
  • If travelling with small children, ensure they stay in their seatbelts and car seats

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

On Sunday September 27th, 2009, the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon, Half Marathon, and 5 Kilometre Walk/Run will be held in the City of Toronto.

The Half Marathon will have a running distance of 21.1 kilometres and the Marathon will have a running distance of 42.2 kilometres (both courses are sanctioned by the Ontario Track and Field Association).

The Toronto Waterfront Order of Events is as follows:
• The Half and Full Marathons will commence at 07:30 hours
• The 5 Kilometre Walk/Run will commence at 10:20 hours

The event organizers are anticipating 20,000 participants for all combined events.

Lakeshore Boulevard closures will commence at 05:00 hours from North Cherry Street to Windermere Ave. until approximately 12:00 hours.

The Lakeshore Blvd. closure from Leslie St. to Queen St. E. will commence at 06:00 hours until 14:00 hours.

Queen St. E. will be closed from Coxwell Ave., to Neville Park Blvd. from 06:00 to 14:00 hours.

Other road closures include Bay St. from Dundas St. W. to Lakeshore Blvd W., from 05:00 hours until 15:00 hours, Eastern Ave. from Coxwell Ave. to Parliament St., and Front Street from Parliament to York St. from 06:00 until 14:00 hours.

Formation Area Road Closure: (Commences at 12:00 hours on Saturday September 26th, 2009, to 18:00 hours Sunday September 27th, 2009.
FORMATION AREA Bay Street Between Queen St. W., and Dundas St. W.

The T.T.C. will incur service disruptions to surface transit routes during this event. For information related to the transit changes for this date you can contact the TTC at (416) 393-INFO (4636) or go online website

Various exits from the Fred Gardiner Expressway east and westbound will be impacted prior to and during the event.

City of Toronto Trip Info Line can be reached at 416-599-9090 for more information.

Full Marathon Route: (Commences at 07:30 hours)
Start Line Bay Street North of Queen Street West
Southbound Bay Street – Full Roadway
Eastbound Wellington Street West – Full Roadway
Eastbound At Church Street, move to Front Street East (Eastbound Lanes ONLY)
Eastbound At Jarvis Street, Front Street East – Full Roadway
Southbound Parliament Street – Full Roadway
Eastbound W/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. East – Full Roadway - approx 200 metres
U-TURN At the 2nd Cut-Through
Westbound E/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. East – Full Roadway
Westbound Follow through E/B Harbour Street - Full Roadway
Westbound At Lower Simcoe St., Lakeshore Blvd. West – Full Roadway
Westbound At Simcoe Street, switch to W/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. W
U-TURN At Windermere Avenue
Eastbound E/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. West – All Lanes EXCEPT South Side CONED Access Lane
RUNNERS SPLIT At Fort York Blvd. & At Stadium Road, 2 arches will span the eastbound lanes dividing the runners for the Full and Half Marathons – use the south side lanes
Southbound Stadium Road – Southbound Lanes ONLY
Eastbound Queens Quay West – Eastbound Lanes ONLY
Eastbound At Spadina Avenue, move to South Side Lane ONLY
(AVOID North Side Access Lane of E/B Queens Quay between Spadina Avenue & Parliament Street)
Eastbound At Parliament Street, turn right to E/B lanes of Lakeshore Blvd. East – Full Road
Southbound Cherry St. S., – Full Roadway to Commissioners St.
Southbound Cherry St. S., at Commissioners St., runners move to N/B passing lane
Southbound Cherry St. S., at Unwin St., runners switch back to S/B lanes to the end of Cherry
U-TURN Clarke Beach Park
Northbound Cherry St. S., N/B lanes ONLY
Northbound At Unwin Ave., runners move to the N/B curb lane ONLY
Eastbound Commissioners Street – Eastbound lanes ONLY
Northbound Leslie Street – Northbound Lanes ONLY
Eastbound E/B Lakeshore Blvd. East – All Eastbound Lanes At Coxwell Ave., runners move to the E/B curb lane and continue E/B Lakeshore Blvd. E.
U-TURN At designated turning area (west of Northern Dancer)
Westbound Lakeshore Blvd., - runners in the E/B passing lane
Northbound Coxwell Ave., N/B Lanes ONLY
Eastbound Eastern Ave., - Eastbound Lanes ONLY
Northbound Kingston Rd., - Northbound Lanes ONLY
Eastbound Queen St. E., Eastbound Lanes ONLY
U-TURN AT Neville Park Rd.
Westbound Queen St. E., Westbound Lanes ONLY
Southbound Kingston Rd., – Southbound/Westbound Lanes ONLY
Westbound Eastern Ave., Full Roadway
Westbound Front St – Full Roadway
Westbound Front St., at Jarvis St. move to – Eastbound Lanes ONLY
Northbound Bay St., - Southbound Lanes ONLY
Finish Line Bay St. at Albert St.

Half Marathon Route: (Commences at 07:30 hours)
Start Line Bay Street North of Queen Street West
Southbound Bay Street – Full Roadway
Eastbound Wellington Street West – Full Roadway
Eastbound At Church Street, move to Front Street East (Eastbound Lanes ONLY)
Eastbound At Jarvis Street, Front Street East – Full Roadway
Southbound Parliament Street – Full Roadway
Eastbound W/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. East – Full Roadway - approx 200 metres
U-TURN At the 2nd Cut-Through
Westbound E/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. East – Full Roadway
Westbound Follow through E/B Harbour Street - Full Roadway
Westbound At Lower Simcoe St., Lakeshore Blvd. West – Full Roadway
Westbound At Simcoe Street, switch to W/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. W
U-TURN At Windermere Avenue
Eastbound E/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. West – All Lanes EXCEPT South Side CONED Access Lane
RUNNERS SPLIT At Fort York Blvd. & At Stadium Road, 2 arches will span the eastbound lanes dividing the runners for the Full and Half Marathons – use the north side E/B lanes
Eastbound Lakeshore Blvd. W., W/B Lanes ONLY
Northbound Bay St. – Southbound Lanes ONLY
Finish Line Bay St. at Albert St.

5 Kilometre Walk/Run: (Commences at 10:20 hours)
Start Line Exhibition Place Grounds – Princes’ Blvd (circle the BMO field with Exhibition Place Grounds
Eastbound Princes’ Blvd – Full Roadway CROSS STRACHAN AVE.
Eastbound W/B lanes Lakeshore Blvd. W.
Northbound Bay St. – Southbound Lanes ONLY
Finish Line Bay St. at Albert St.

Word on The Street

The 20th Anniversary of The Word on The Street Festival will take place on Sunday September 27th, 2009. The event will run from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm.

Road Closures
Queens Park (Bloor Street to College Street)
Queens Park Crescent East and West (Bloor Street to College Street)
Wellesley Street (Bay Street to Queens Park Crescent West)
St.Joseph Street (Queens Park Crescent West to Bay Street)
Hoskin Street (Devonshire Place to Queens Park Crescent East)
60th Anniversary of the Founding of the Peoples Republic of China

The Greater Toronto Chinese/Canadian Organizing Committee will be holding a parade to celebrate the 60the Anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

The parade will begin forming at Queens Park at approximately 10am.
At 12pm the parade will begin on the following route:
South to College St
WB College St to Spadina
SB Spadina to Dundas St
EB Dundas Street
Completion at Dundas Square at approximately 2:00 pm.

Blue Jays

The Toronto Blue Jays have a home stand against the Seattle Mariners with games on Saturday and Sunday at the Rogers Center. Both games are 1:07pm starts.

Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs will be hosting the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night and the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday night.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Toronto Police Back to School Campaign Results

Toronto Police Service News Release

Back-to-school campaign,
"Getting them back safely,"
Campaign results
Wednesday, September 23, 2009 - 3:27 PM
Traffic Services

On Friday, September 18, 2009, the Toronto Police Service concluded its two-week back-to-school campaign, "Getting them back safely."

Police issued tickets to motorists, cyclists and pedestrians found committing offences that compromised the safety of our children.

Of the tickets issued:
- 9,092 tickets were issued for speeding offences,
- 139 charges were laid for careless driving,
- 248 tickets were issued to pedestrians,
- 241 tickets were issued to motorists for disobeying crossing guards, pedestrian crossovers and signalized crosswalks,
- 57 charges were laid for disobeying school bus signals,
- 3,598 tickets were issued to motorists for offences such as disobeying traffic signals, following too closely and disobeying signs,
- 318 parking offences were issued for interfering with the safe use of pedestrian crosswalks, crossovers and school zones.

The Toronto Police Service is dedicated to ensuring the safe and orderly movement of traffic within the city of Toronto. Education with enforcement and awareness is pivotal to the safe and efficient flow of traffic in our City.

Stay up to date and informed with what's happening at Traffic Services.




Tandem Seats / Sore Cheeks

On Thursday September 24, 2009 the "Ride to Remember" will commence at the Toronto Police Association building.

The Ride to Remember coincides with the National Police Memorial taking place in Ottawa on Sunday, September 27. This event honours the fallen police officers and their families from across Canada. The Ride to Remember is in support of the families of our fallen officers.

This year several Toronto Police Service members will be taking part in the three day, 400+ km trip. They have raised money through generous donations and fund raising just to take part in the ride.

Traffic Services has two very special people involved in this year's ride.

Joey Cabral is blind. Joey heard about the ride and decided he was going to take part. The obvious problem is because he is blind he needed someone to be his guide. Joey let it be known what he wanted to do and Police Constable Courtney Yourkin, a member of our Reconstruction Unit immediately volunteered to be his eyes for the trip.

Joey and Courtney will be riding a tandem bike for the journey and they have been training for this weeks adventure for several months. "The Tandem Seats & Sore Cheeks Team", as they have become known around the station will be at 180 Yorkland Blvd tomorrow at 6am.

Dignitaries that will be at the event will be, Chief William Blair, Board member Hamlin Grange and various Toronto Police Association members.

Schedule for the RIDE TO REMEMBER - Canadian National Peace Officers Memorial
Thursday 24th Sept. 2009
TPS Association Building
180 Yorkland Blvd
Invited guests to speak
-Chief Blair
-Board member Hamlin Grange
-Toronto Police Association Members
-Grange may ride with us out for a distance – Get Vest for him
Singing of Oh Canada by Sandra Cohen
Ride off, Escorted

Stay up to date and informed with what's happening at Traffic Services.




Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Car Free Day Street Festival

On Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009, the Sierra Club and The City of Toronto will be hosting a “car-free day” street festival. The City of Toronto’s Environment Office will be hosting a Car Free Day to raise awareness about the environmental hazards of car use, and to encourage commuters to use more sustainable forms of transportation, like walking, cycling, carpooling, and public transit. This event will take place on Yonge St just south of Dundas St., and on Yonge-Dundas Square, from 11am to 3pm.

There are also events taking place on Yonge-Dundas Square, in conjunction with the street festival.

Media trucks have a designated parking area on Dundas Square west of O’keefe Lane.

In order to accommodate the large crowds, at this expo, the City of Toronto has issued a permit for the following road closures:

1) Yonge Street from the south side of Dundas Street to the north side of Queen Street will be closed between the hours of 10:00 and 16:00 in order to accommodate this event. The Shuter Street intersection will remain open to allow access to vehicles entering the Eaton’s Centre parking lot.

2) Dundas Square Street from Yonge Street to O’Keefe Lane will be closed from 10:00 to 16:00 hours (for pedestrian safety).

Dundas and Queen streetcar service will not be affected. Yonge bus will be re-routing during the festival.

This is a great opportunity to try alternative methods of travel. Car pooling, public transit, cycling and walking are all great ways to minimize vehicle traffic on our roads, minimize environmental damage and allow a more efficient and free flow of traffic.

More info on Car Free Day Toronto

More info on Car Free Day International

Friday, September 18, 2009

School Bus Safety

I was invited this week to view a video that had been sent to City TV that showed a serious traffic safety issue.

Michael Cardinal lives near the intersection of Eglington Ave E and Brichmount Road in Scarborough. He watched in horror daily as his children and many others got on and off the school bus, that is provided to ensure our children can get to and from school safely everyday, while drivers passed the bus and others at will.

Michael's video, shows drivers passing the school bus while the overhead lights were flashing, the stop arm was out and the children were getting off.

Farah Nasser of CityTV showed me the video and with the help of 41 Division Traffic Response Officers and Traffic Services Enforcement Group Officers we went to the location to have some fun!

One bus stopped - 4 drivers charged. The offence? Passing a school bus = $490 + six demerit points upon conviction.

City TV got their own video; first without the police, then with the police.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Basic Driving 101 - Part VII


Wars, territorial disputes, trade embargoes, contract battles, divorce and school yard fights have all occurred because of one simple problem. A failure to clearly COMMUNICATE.

Accurate communication is vitally important to ensure that disagreements and battles don't happen. Communication can save lives.

When we are using our roads; whether as a pedestrian, cyclist or driver, proper communication keeps everything running smooth, safe and efficient.

Communication comes in many forms. The signs on the roadway, traffic control systems, road markings and most

Road signs will tell us where to park, which lane we should choose, which direction to follow, etc. Traffic control systems govern mostly, stop, go and caution while road markings dictate lanes to use, directions to follow and prohibitions. But you and I cover off everything else. When we cooperate with those stagnant systems of road control with our active abilities we can avoid a great deal of potential conflict.

What can we use to communicate with the traffic around us when so many users are in steel boxes? Lights, horn, signalling devices, eye contact, hand signals, actions and rules of the road.

Lights - full head lights, brake lights, signal lights all have to be operable for full effect
Horn - great for giving a warning...NOT for reaction
Signalling Devices - they are there for a reason...USE THEM, bells, horns, whistles, WORDS
Eye Contact - great for cyclists and pedestrians to ensure they are seen
Hand Signals - cyclists only way to tell drivers what they are doing. As a driver, when I see a cyclists using hand signals I automatically give more space because they are telling me something is about to happen. Pedestrians that point their way across the street are more predictable and visible.
Actions - Using your lane position can tell people what you are doing, intend on doing and tells other users where you may be going. Hugging the right curb approaching a side street tells users that you are probably preparing to turn or stop so followers should go around to left or be prepared for action.
Rules of the Road - If we all follow the rules of the road predictability is much easier. We understand what the other users of the road are going to do. Red lights mean stop, stop signs mean stop, no parking means no parking...quite the concept. If you are not clear on the rules of the road click here...great reading. Try the whole book for even more information, click here.

When we fail to communicate we leave ourselves open to mis-interpretation of our intent. Not surprising...if I don't know what you are doing, I assume things will stay status quo, when status quo changes without notice problems occur.

Communication is the easiest way to ensure we all understand what our intent is and helps to avoid problems.

Road safety is every one's your part first....communicate.

Next Part in this series: Rules of the Road
Previous Series Parts
Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Can you really multi-task?

The following article was written by my good friend Scott Marshall. I re-post many of his articles because of his vast experience as a driving instructor for Young Drivers of Canada and he has an excellent way of relating information. You can follow him on Twitter @safedriver and follow his blog at

How many things can you do at one time? We often hear about people who can do more than one thing at a time; multi-tasking. I’m always so busy that I sometimes wish I had more arms so I could do more tasks. Instead of that, I delegate some of the tasks that need to be done. Can we delegate as a driver, or do we need to multi-task?

We all know that driving takes a lot of concentration and that distracting our concentration can lead to huge problems. We sometimes fool ourselves into believing we can do many things at once. The things we do regularly have become a habit in most cases, so we don’t need to think about them too often. For example; accelerating while steering can be done at the same time, but that’s mainly because you’re used to doing it. Dealing with other drivers is where the problem comes in.

I often do a little exercise with my students while I’m teaching in the classroom at Young Drivers of Canada. I ask them to do “patty-cake” with either the person beside them or their kneecaps. They follow a pattern and have to do it in unison with everyone else. They all seem to find it quite easy to do. The next part of my experiment is to say the alphabet… backwards. This takes complete thought. It’s not a habit for them to do it that way and they struggle with it. Once they’ve finished that, they have to combine the exercises and do the “patty-cake” and the alphabet backwards. The reality of this is they can’t do it. I witness my students slowing their “patty-cake” to think of what comes next in the alphabet.

This exercise proves to them that their mind will only allow them to consciously do one thing at a time. They had to slow their thought process to make other choices. Does this sound familiar with driving a vehicle? We often hear how difficult it is for some drivers to talk on their cell phone while driving. It’s absolutely true, but they keep doing it. The other day I was driving behind another driver who was driving very slowly. It was a little frustrating, but I knew it was only for a few seconds so I didn’t let it bother me. Once I passed the driver, I noticed they were on their cell phone. They had a difficult time driving safely and talking on their phone. In other words; they couldn’t multi-task.

Driving takes full concentration, so you need to stay focused on your driving and eliminate other thought provoking activities. Driving while being angry can lead to crashes. Have you ever argued with someone while driving? I wonder how many red lights or stop signs you ran because your mind was on something else.

Keep your mind on your driving so you can drive collision free. Sometimes it’s better to walk, stop then chew!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Rules of the Road

Police Constable Hugh Smith takes CBC host Matt Galloway for a tour around downtown Toronto on a bicycle.

Matt is a cycling commuter that knows what he is doing on a bike, but he learned a great deal from one of Toronto's most knowledgeable bicycle officers.

This is an audio file that is just over 13 minutes long

Before the cycling advocates say, "Well no one would honk because he is a cop!" Hugh was wearing civilian clothes and was riding a civilian bicycle. This was a 40 minute ride on some of the busiest streets in the city core of Toronto.

Take a listen and see what you can take away from it. Chances are, you'll be a better rider for taking the time to learn something.

Click here for the audio file.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Death and Advocacy

Thanks to Dave Mezlin for giving me permission to post his blog here. Mez presents a very sound and rational view of a tragic situation. For the original post and the comments click the link below.

I’ve been involved in community organizing for thirteen years, and I can think of many situations where an unfortunate death became the centre of gravity, around which a movement temporarily solidified and revolved.

Memorials provide a place and time for friends and family to mourn, but they can also serve to highlight a message or cause, giving voice to a marginalised community and creating meaning for an otherwise senseless loss.

My thoughts turn to Carlo Giuliani who was killed while protesting the G8 summit in Genoa, in July 2001. I helped organise the memorial in Toronto for him, on the day of his death. I did a live interview on CityTV, surrounded by mourners and candles, trying to explain why so many of us felt moved by his death. After participating in protests in Seattle and Quebec City, many of us felt like ‘it could have been us’.

I remember the death of Kimberly Rogers. She died a month after Giuliani, alone, in her apartment after being cut-off welfare during the Mike Harris years. I attended a memorial for her at Queens Park, organized by my friends Magali & Alex. Many saw her death as further evidence (one year after Walkerton) that the ‘Common Sense Revolution’ was short-sighted and dangerous.

I think of Gustavo Benedetto, who was killed by police in Argentina, during mass protests against the government. He was unarmed, and his death was caught on video. I attended a vigil for him, and during the six months I spent in Argentina in 2003, I sadly saw many plaques on the streets for people who had been killed in this manner.

I remember attending a couple of the monthly memorials organized by the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, bringing attention to all the people who have died homeless on the streets of Toronto.

And of course, I think of the many, many memorials I have attended in Toronto for fallen cyclists. I remember standing in the middle of Queen Street at Gladstone, in 2005, together with hundreds of cyclists mourning the death of Ryan Carriere, who had been run over by a truck one week earlier. This was one of the many gatherings organised by Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC), who have consistently organised memorials for every cyclist fatality in Toronto over the last decade. I also remember attending a memorial for Galen Kuellmer who was also run over by a vehicle, at the underpass at Dundas and Dupont.

Each of these gatherings, to varying degrees of effectiveness and appropriateness, contributed to a movement, giving it focus and purpose, and relaying an important message to the greater public.

Obviously, I’m writing this blog post in the context of last week’s tragic death of Darcy Allan Sheppard. Hundreds of cyclists, who feel their lives are at risk each and every day on our streets, have expressed both anger and sadness about the situation. Two days after Sheppard’s death, a thousand cyclists gathered on Bloor street for a large peaceful event that allowed people to express their sadness.

I didn’t go to the memorial, as I had a family reunion to attend. But to be honest, I’m not sure if I would have gone if I had been available. In a way, I felt fortunate to have an excuse not to go, as it saved me from having to make a decision that I found to be both confusing and difficult.

Now, a week later, I feel a need to explain why I was confused.

Many of my friends attended the memorial, and I can understand why. There is so much frustration and anger inside the minds and bodies of cyclists, because of the conditions we face daily on our streets. Whenever we hear about a cyclist injury or death, we immediately conjure images of ourselves, or our friends, in the ambulance.

The point I want to make in this blog entry, and I know it could be controversial, is that as a movement we have to be careful not act on emotion alone. The stakes are too high. Many more lives are at risk, and our actions as cyclists will dictate our future successes or failures. Our current task at hand is to build a city-wide consciousness that cycling is a viable form of transportation that deserves funding, infrastructure and respect. It’s an uphill battle. For many people, bicycles are a nuisance, are for children, are for parks, etc.

When Kuellmer was killed on Dupont, it was a stunning reminder for everyone that more bikelanes could save lives. When Carriere was crushed under the wheels of a truck, it was a perfect example of why the 1998 Coroner’s Report had recommended ‘side guards’ on trucks, to prevent deaths just like his.

But last week’s death is more complicated, and pretending otherwise is a risky move that could trigger the opposite result of what cycling advocates might hope. In fact, I would argue that continued advocacy for ‘justice’ in this case, could re-enforce undeserved negative stereotypes of cyclists as unreasonable, righteous, and perhaps a little crazy.

I don’t want to take away from the tragic death, and the mourning that it deserves. I have visited the memorial site, and spent a moment reflecting on his painful death. But I was there as a neighbour, a Torontonian, a fellow human. Not a cyclist. I also made a contribution to the trust fund that has been set-up to pay for his burial and to assist his children.

Without getting into the details, I think it’s fair to say that the altercation between Michael Bryant and Sheppard was complicated, had external factors beyond ‘road rage’, and was not a typical case of a bike-car collision. In fact, the police have listed the death as a ‘pedestrian-car’ fatality, and I would agree.

It’s possible that Sheppard, already in a bad mood and perhaps intoxicated, exercised incredibly poor judgment and attacked Bryant in a way that made him fear for his life. In that case, Bryant would have every right to try to drive away. If Sheppard at that point decided to jump onto the car and hold on, then once again he’s making a choice that put his life at risk – not as a cyclist, but as a person. Should Bryant then have hit the brake? Maybe. I’m not sure what I would do if I was driving a convertible and I thought someone hanging on my door was trying to attack me. Sheppard may even have been the one who grabbed the wheel, turning the car to the left.

It’s also possible that Bryant was drunk (he didn’t take a breathaliser test), was also in a horrible mood, had an earlier argument with his wife, let all his anger out on Sheppard, responding to a mild conflict with crazed aggression. In which case he should spend a long time in jail.

But the fact is, we don’t know, and there is no point trying to guess. The truth likely lies somewhere between those two scenarios and it will be the judge’s difficult task to get the facts and make a decision.

As a cyclist, I can relate to people’s anger. But I’d like to reflect on a few points that might help non-cyclists understand where the anger is coming from:

1) Michael Bryant is a politician. I think on some level, this is really fuelling the collective emotion, because in our minds we actually connect each and every cyclist death to politicians. The lack of action, by all three levels of government, to create safe space for cyclists on our streets is criminal. Promises are made, Coroner’s Reports make recommendations, Bike Plans are adopted, but very little actually happens. Toronto’s Bike Plan in particular is crawling at a snail’s pace. Originally adopted in 2001, and scheduled to be complete by 2011, only a small fraction of the plan has been implemented. Recent road reconstructions on Lansdowne, Roncesvalles and Bloor (near the site of Sheppard’s death) have prioritized cars and pedestrians over cyclists, perpetuating unsafe conditions. Cyclists are smart. As much as they get mad at drivers, they also know where the blame really lies: City Hall, Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. In our minds, our lives are being put at risk, daily, because of ineffective gutless politicians. So when Michael Bryant ran over a cyclist, the emotional trigger was powerful. I think for many cyclists, perhaps even subconsciously, the death represented tangible proof of what we’ve felt all along. Politicians are killing cyclists. So here, I want to encourage people to try and separate the rage you may have against politicians as a whole, when judging Michael Bryant’s actions. The situation is complicated enough without being clouded by historical anger directed against his entire profession.

2) It happened on Bloor. Cycling advocates have been pushing for much needed east-west bikelanes on Bloor for years. Bells on Bloor is an annual community group ride that attracts over one thousand cyclists, calling for bike lanes on Bloor. Take the Tooker is a group that has been running a campaign for bike lanes on Bloor, and proposes that the east-west bike corridor be named after the late cyling advocate (and personal friend) Tooker Gomberg. With narrow streets, and lots of parking, Bloor can be a very frightening street to ride on, as cyclists have to navigate a very narrow strip between moving cars and opening doors. Miraculously, there have been no deaths on Bloor in recent years… until last week. It makes sense that advocates would jump on the chance to link Sheppard’s death to the need for better infrastructure on the street. But we don’t know if better infrastructure would have made any difference in this case, since we don’t know the details of what actually happened to trigger the conflict. It’s possible that a bike lane could have prevented the original collision. But even then, it doesn’t explain the unusual escalation and the ensuing events.

3) Cyclist/Police relations aren’t always warm. There is a long history of cyclists feeling that collisions involving cyclists and drivers aren’t taken seriously by the police. There are many examples of charges not being laid, proper witness statements not being taken, and of officers assuming the cyclist was at fault, simply for being on the road. Bicycles are still seen by many as a frivolous waste of space, and this attitude has sadly been verbally expressed by members of the Toronto Police Force. Relations between cyclists and the police have been improving, but there is still a significant history of cyclists feeling marginalized, and mistreated in the context of a collision.

Another interesting element here that could be fueling the tension, is that charges have been laid only against Bryant, and not against Sheppard. This may give the false impression that there was only one aggressor in the conflict. But the one-sided charge may actually only be a result of the fact that Sheppard died, and thus couldn’t be charged with anything. Based on what we know, it’s quite possible that had Sheppard been injured, and not killed, that he may have been charged with assault, in addition to whatever charges Bryant would have received. Both would deserve fair trials, and Sheppard may have been found completely innocent. Sadly, he’ll never have his chance to explain his side of the story. But the fact that he wasn’t charged shouldn’t let people think that this is as straightforward as it may appear.

I don’t want to be critical of the memorials that have happened or the anger that has been expressed. In many ways, it’s the natural reaction to a gruesome and tragic death. The solidarity and emotion that was illustrated by friends and cyclists is a testament to the existence of a community of people who feel threatened and scared for their own safety. And while the discussion in the media has been often divisive, it has also lead to some good reflections and balanced, thoughtful journalism on an important topic.

So let’s not look backwards. But I do want to raise a concern about where we go from here, as the trial approaches. I think at this point, more rallies, protests or demands for justice, in the context of all the information we have, could be counterproductive. Language like “this is another example of what cyclists face” or “this could have happened to any of us” needs to be challenged. Do you really think that any of us would have been run down by Michael Bryant on that evening? I have trouble thinking that I would have ended up hanging off his car, as Bryant tried to knock me off.

Personally, I want to fight for people’s right to ride a bike on our streets and not get killed. It’s not a lot to ask for. I’m not prepared to fight for people’s right to get into fights, escalate conflict, make risky decisions, create an unsafe situation, and not get hurt.

Focusing on this case, and holding it up as an example of what “we all face on the streets” only distracts attention away from what we actually all face on the streets, and from the cases where cyclists are being run over, by accident, due to poor signage, inadequate road markings, insufficient driver education and a lack of infrastructure. Those are the cases we need to highlight. My fear on the streets is about being accidentally knocked over by an opening car door and run over by a truck without sideguards. I’m not scared of being chased down intentionally by a driver.

If we rally around every incident that involves a cyclist, even when there are other factors that seem to imply that the interaction had little to do with cycling issues, we risk losing credibility and distracting people away from our real cause.

Let’s allow the trial happen, and not pass judgment until it ends. At that point, let’s respond with an informed reaction that takes into account all the evidence. Bryant may spend the rest of his life behind bars. And he also might be found not guilty on either charge. Based on the facts I’ve heard at that point, I might be content or angered by either outcome. Either way, I’m unlikely to relate it back to the cycling issues that I’m passionate about. I’m also unlikely to attend the trial, or organize around it, or comment on it while it’s in progress.

However, if Michael Bryant were charged with being complicit in a government that puts cyclists’ lives at risk through negligence and lack of action, now that’s a trial that I would attend religiously, and I would organize rallies that demand justice.

In the meantime, I want to continue to fight for cyclists’ right to travel safely on our streets without fear. That means providing safe space for cyclists, and incorporating our needs into every single re-design and road construction project. I want to work against negative stereotypes that paint cyclists unfairly, and I want to work against the notion that bicycles aren’t a viable form of transportation.

And along the way, I’ll do my best not to let the angry emotions that fill me, dictate my actions. Let’s all remember what we’re fighting for, and try to make sure that we’re always moving towards a goal. This week’s outpouring of emotion shows that we have a strong movement of passionate people. People who are angry and thirsty for change. If we can focus that energy, we can build the streets we want.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Back to Shcool - Media Advisory

Media Advisory
"Back to School Campaign - Getting Them Back Safely” Launch,
Tuesday, September 8, 2009 from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Keele Street at Glenlake Avenue

Broadcast time: 10:00
Monday, September 7, 2009

Traffic Services

On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, the majority of Toronto students will be returning to school.

The "Back to School – Getting Them Back Safely" campaign will start on Tuesday, September 8, 2009 and 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.

The campaign launch will be held near Keele Street Public school near the intersection of Keele Street and Glenlake Avenue from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.

Officers from Traffic Services and 11 Division will be on hand to speak to the media and to educate members of the public who need reminders of basic road safety around school zones and school buses.

For further information please contact Sgt. Tim Burrows or PC Hugh Smith at 416-808-1920.

If you are attending, please park legally in an area that does not compromise safety.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ticket princess nabbed again

Last Updated: 5th September 2009, 2:40am

To see the original Sun story and comments, click here.

Since her 18th birthday earlier this year, Connie Nydam has raked in five driving convictions and two licence suspensions.

Yesterday, police accused her of speeding up the Don Valley Parkway with three passengers, evading arrest and driving while disqualified -- and impaired.

It was 2:40 a.m. when a Toronto Police officer clocked a Toyota Rav4 doing 139 km/h along the 90 km/h DVP.

The SUV then went north before exiting on Lawrence Ave. E., then pulling a U-turn back to the northbound DVP.

The SUV then went back onto the DVP and accelerated to 170 km/h to evade the cruiser, Sgt. Tim Burrows said.

As the vehicle entered the Hwy. 401 westbound ramp, it hit a guard rail. The driver then fled on foot.

Nydam allegedly assaulted a police officer during her arrest at Victoria Park Ave., near York Mills Rd.

She was charged with dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, impaired driving, failing to stop after an accident, driving while disqualified, failing to comply with probation and assault.
Nydam, who turned 18 Feb 22, has a long list of infractions:

- MARCH 4: Failing to stop at an intersection April 28, 2008.
- MARCH 18: Going 75 km/h in a 60 zone, May 16, 2008.
- MARCH 23: Going 80 in a 60 zone, April 16, 2008.
- APRIL 8: Going 76 in a 60 zone, April 3, 2008.
- APRIL 26: Had G2 licence suspended for 60 days.
- MAY 15: Another suspension registered in regards to an unpaid fine.
- MAY 27: Going 87 in a 60 zone on May 20, 2008.
As of yesterday afternoon, four demerit points were listed on her driving record.

Labour Day Parade

Toronto & York Region Labour Day Parade

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Toronto and York Region Labour Day Parade is scheduled for Monday, September 7,
2009, at 9:30 a.m. The parade will enter the CNE through Dufferin Gates at 11 a.m.

The following road closures will start at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 2 p.m.:
− University Avenue, from Richmond Street West to Dundas Street West,
− Armoury Street, from University Avenue to Chestnut Street,
− Centre Avenue, from Armoury Street to Dundas Street West,
− Queen Street West, from Bay Street to Dufferin Street,
− Dufferin Street, from Queen Street West to the CNE Grounds.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area and consider the road closures when planning their

The event will proceed regardless of weather conditions.