Saturday, June 19, 2010

Take The Pledge, Share and WIN!!!

As many of you know, I have been a big supporter of the "No Phone Zone" Pledge that Oprah started near the beginning of this year.

The concept is simple. You decide that you want to make your car a "No Phone Zone", sign the pledge and follow through by not allowing your phone to be a distraction to your driving. It's a great idea and in Ontario...IT IS THE LAW!! $155 for talking, texting, typing, reading. Hands holding a device? $155. Watching a DVD, $155.

But really, what is the fine compared to the potential of crashing and taking the life of a loved one or yourself?

April 30, 2010 was the day for the #NoPhoneZone across the world and in Toronto, we did a great job of letting everyone know that we supported the idea. Thank goodness we did, because with the number of charges that the Toronto Police have issued to people (Over 6000 to date), I'd hate to see what it would be like if we didn't support it!

So, what is this all about? I want to keep Toronto moving toward safer roads and make Toronto the number one city in the world to support the here is my offer.

1.) Pledge your committment to making your car a "No Phone Zone"

2.) Share your committment of your pledge on Facebook
There is a Share Button for Facebook on the page that appears after you submit your pledge.

3.) Let me know you pledged on Twitter
Tweet, "Hey @TrafficServices I just pledged to make my car a #NoPhoneZone #Toronto" and attach your Facebook Status Link.

I will aggregate all the Tweets that you send out between June 19 and June 23, enter them into a randomizer and allow a computer to determine who the lucky winners of 5 incredible, amazing and unbelievable prize packs will be awarded.

Once the computer spits out the Twitter ID's I will let you know via Twitter who you are and arrange for your prize pick-ups.

No Phone Zone Information
Distracted Driving Information

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Bicycle Basics

By PC Hugh Smith

Good weather in Toronto means more bicycles are on the road, and everyone needs to be aware of these smaller vehicles.

Studies indicate most motorist subconsciously don't see vehicles that are any smaller than a car. People driving automobiles need to be cognizant of their surroundings and bicycles in their area.

Things that a rider should be cognizant of is, number one be smooth. You need to know your limits, your personal limits and your bicycles limits.

Know your surroundings, who you are driving with, who is on the roadway, and never take your scenario for granted. Always be on alert for something to happen."

Wearing a helmet is always a must, wearing bright neon colors that are not found in nature. Most cycling accidents are the result of falls. Avoid loose clothing and wear appropriate footwear. Use pant leg clips to keep clothing grease free and out of the bicycle chain.

Bicyclist need to use their skills to keep them proficient. If the bike has been sitting in storage all winter, make sure the tire pressure is correct and the bike is tuned before taking it on the road. Even experienced, riders should brush up on their skills and address some of the bad habits they may have developed.

Safety however, is not just the responsibility of the cyclist, cars and trucks need to be share the road with these smaller vehicles and be aware that they are there.

"All drivers have a responsibility of being proficient behind the wheel”. They need to know how to operate their vehicle properly. They need to know their space, how much room they are taking up, and if they can actually manoeuver their vehicle in an emergency situation."

Lane position on any urban street

Highway Traffic Acts across Canada tell cyclists to ride as far to the right as is practical. Those words are hard to interpret by the road using public.

Some motorists feel cyclists should not be in the line of traffic and some cyclists interpret the law as meaning to ride on the sidewalk – but sidewalk cycling is illegal in most parts of Canada.

What it should mean is to ride far enough out from the curb that you can maintain a straight line and avoid debris, potholes and service covers.

Drivers must leave a safety cushion space between their car and the cyclist so there is no chance of collision. This safety cushion is for the cyclist to manoeuvre in while cycling through traffic.

Sidewalks are dangerous places to ride.

Recent stats show that many car-bike collisions involve a cyclist riding off sidewalks and into roadways.

Although some Canadian communities allow children’s bikes (24 inch wheels or smaller) on the sidewalk, the intention was to allow only small children to ride on the sidewalk.

Sidewalks are for pedestrians.

They are not safe havens for cyclists. Sidewalks are congested with pedestrians, strollers, wheel chairs, pets, senior citizens, doorways, planters, and entire families of unpredictable window shoppers.

Road traffic is more predictable.

Educated and seasoned cyclists have the knowledge and skills required to ride on the road. Rules of the road, risk management, handling skills, decision making are all part of their experience. Choose to improve your skills.

Cyclists are part of traffic and have all the rights and responsibilities that motorists have. Cyclists need room to manoeuvre in traffic and motorists need to provide that room by not crowding cyclists and compromising their safety.

When motorists and cyclists are considerate of the space each type of user requires on the roadway, conflict is reduced and everyone is much safer.

Warm up the bike before every ride

When the weather warms up and the ice, snow, and salt are gone from the roads and trails, it's time to get back on your bikes. If your family's bicycles have been in storage all winter, you should tune up each bike for spring. Your local bike shop will do this for you for $35 to $60, or you can do it yourself.

Bikes are fairly easy to maintain but still require your attention to ensure a safe journey. Pay special attention to the following four areas: chain, derailleur components, brakes, and wheels.

Tires release air, chains need oil, bells and brakes need to work, and handlebars need tightening. The basics!

The ABC Quick Check is an easy way to remember what parts of the bike need your TLC before every ride. It takes less than a minute.

A – is for air. Check everything to do with your tires and wheels and air pressure. The valve must be straight out of the rim, not at an angle.

B – is for brakes, bars and bell. The brake pads must be straight and grip the rim effectively. The handle bars must be straight and tight. The bell must work.

C – is for chain & crank. Chains need to be lubricated & the pedals (cranks) need to spin freely.

Quick – is for quick release. Levers must be installed correctly and tight.

Throw in a ‘D’ for Drop: lift the bike a few inches from the ground and drop it. If something falls off…you might need more than a minute. Try your breaks as you ride off.

If your bike passes the ABC Quick Check, get riding. If something doesn’t seem right or you suspect something is losing its grip, visit your neighbourhood bike service centre. ABC Quick Check is a smart way to keep your bike in good shape and you safe. Get into the habit.

Lock it or Lose It

Four methods thieves use to steal a bike

  • Steal an unlocked bike.
  • Break the lock.
  • Break what the bike is locked to.
  • Steal parts of the bike that are unlocked.

Losing a bike through theft can be a painful and expensive experience. There are no full-proof methods to secure bikes but here are some bike lock basics.

Four of the most effective ways to keep your bike from being stolen

  • Always lock your bike. Half of all bikes stolen are stolen from home.
  • Use a good lock. Buy two of the best locks you can afford. Having two different kinds of locks increases safety.
  • Secure your bike frame and your back wheel. (Two locks!)
  • Do not lock your bike to a chain link fence or a wooden porch.

Register your bike. When the police hear about numerous bike thefts in a neighbourhood they know that there is an organized bike thief in the area and can help stop the operation.


The CAN-BIKE safe cycling skills program is the standard for bicycle education across Canada. CAN-BIKE Courses teach riding skills, traffic analysis skills, and collision avoidance techniques. They also provide the basics on safe equipment, and a basic bike inspection. Regardless of your experience, CAN-BIKE will make your cycling more effective, and give you a greater sense of confidence and control in traffic.

CAN-BIKE is the only accredited course of its kind. Courses are taught exclusively by instructors certified by the CAN-BIKE program. Instructors are knowledgeable about the Highway Traffic Act and teach cycling skills such as anticipating traffic dynamics, recognizing road hazards, and collision-avoidance techniques.

Our most advanced course, CAN-BIKE 2, is required training for many people who cycle on the job. In fact, all Toronto Police bicycle patrol officers are required to take CAN-BIKE 2.

Cycling is a popular means of active transportation; it can be done outdoors where you can appreciate the scenery alone or with friends. Cycling give one an opportunity to enjoy nature in the outskirts as well as within the city area. It is also a great form of exercise, involving all your muscles, especially the legs and heart.

  • Start slowly so that your body, and especially your joints and muscles can warm up. Your body works better when it is warm.
  • Remember to replace lost fluids-you will get thirsty in hot weather as well as cold. If it's cold enough for a water bottle to freeze try a water bag between layers on your back.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Road users have Collisions, Children have 'accidents'

For the last couple years I have made a point of correcting people when the word “Accident” is used to describe an event where people, vehicles, etc come into contact. A couple of weeks ago, my correction of someone’s use of the word led to an email debate over Accident vs. Collision/Crash/Wreck.

That is what prompted this post.


According the Oxford Dictionary an accident is described as:
Noun – 1.) an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally. 2.) an incident that happens by chance or without apparent cause. 3.) chance

I will concede that according to some of that definition, an accident could be used to describe a crash. But, it truly is not unexpected, a crash never happens without apparent cause and chance? Please. I believe this definition was never meant to be used to describe a collision.

Using the same Oxford Dictionary a Collision is:
Noun – an instance of colliding
And a Crash is:
Verb – (of a vehicle) collide violently with an obstacle or another vehicle.
Finally Wreck is:
Noun – 3.) a building, vehicle, etc. that has been destroyed or badly damaged. 4) a road or rail crash.

Using any of those definitions, Collision, Crash, Wreck is far more accurate than accident to describe the coming together of vehicle, bicycles, cars and people.

Whoose to blame:

Collectively we all need to get our houses in order to help prevent collisions and something as simple as changing our vernacular can be a benefit.

I believe that when we use the word accident we give people an ‘out’ of the responsibility that needs to be felt. Accident allows people the thought that what happened couldn’t be avoided; it was something that was unforeseen and unavoidable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The common denominator is human behaviour, which leads to human error. The worlds safest roadways can become filled with the bodies of dead and injured by the factor of disregarding simple safety and common sense rules while the worst roads travelled with awareness, adherence to laws, operating within safety guides for the conditions and alert behaviours can be injury and death free.

Now, I will also concede that law enforcement, media, insurance companies and government play a role in this mess. The reports that the police in Ontario file with the MTO are called Accident Reports. Most insurance company websites will refer to the word accident, media will report accidents as they happen.

The term accident became part of the vernacular of describing collisions and crashes somewhere along the way and has cemented itself there. We shouldn’t be using the word just because that is what people are used to hearing. We should be using the words that describe what it is. I think we can all be leaders by changing the words and helping to put blame where it belongs.

Accident makes the liability, blame and cause of collisions minimal at best and creates an escape clause for those responsible for the event. I saw an insurance company website recently that promoted a "responsibility project" that used the term accident all through their material. If any industry has a reason to put blame and fault where it belongs, it’s the insurance industry.

Collisions are predictable and preventable. Drive distracted, impaired, fatigued, aggressive, unaware or unskilled and you will cause injuries and or death.

Nothing on the roads just all of a sudden happens. There is a period where the event develops or unfolds and someone has done something wrong, illegal or unsafe.

Sure, you never get home and say to your spouse, “Wow, I just saw a huge collision.” You more than likely say accident. The person who was hit in a collision might say they were the victims of an accident, but the totality of the event is a collision that could have been prevented.

And yes, sometimes even the people who are hit can bear some responsibility. If you are driving aware and alert, you might see that a car is going to go through a red light, but all too often, we see that we have the perceived right of way and assume the way is clear for us.

So do us all a favour, stop using the word accident. Collision is more accurate, crash is more dynamic and wreck, well that’s just plain cool.

I have tried and tried and tried, but no matter what, I can’t think of one scenario that can allow for the word accident to be used. Can you? Let me know, have your say. Tell me I’m wrong or tell me I’m right. Leave a comment to share with everyone.

If you want to use the word accident, keep it to describing what children have when they are toilet training.