Cycling Death in Ottawa Sparks Calls for Change

Cyclist safety has been a hot topic in Ottawa in recent weeks, as it has been for years among Ontario’s personal injury and bicycle accident lawyers. A fatal hit-and-run in the city’s downtown core in mid-May sparked protests and calls for change in the Nation’s Capital, prompting city councillor Catherine McKenney to suggest a Vision Zero approach.

“We can’t just keep waiting for cyclists and pedestrians to get killed and then take more action,” the Somerset ward councillor told reporters last month.

Toronto bicycle accident lawyers and road safety advocates are quite familiar with Vision Zero, a road safety strategy that prioritizes the safety of vulnerable road users and aims to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious injuries. McKenney is urging the city to adopt several Vision Zero measures, including:

  • Mandatory pedestrian and cycling infrastructure with all new road construction
  • Installation of segregated bike lanes
  • Reducing speed limits to 30 km/h on all residential streets
  • Eliminating right turns on red lights where there are bike lanes or heavy pedestrian traffic
  • Changing traffic signals to prioritize cyclists and pedestrians

“We often prioritize traffic flow over pedestrian and cycling safety and that has to be changed,” she the city councillor, according to the CBC.

McKenney wasn’t the only Ottawan calling for change following last month’s accident. Protestors organized at least two demonstrations in the city, including one in which activists separated bike lanes from traffic lanes with red plastic cups, and a memorial ride attended by 400 cyclists and a police escort.

“I feel like it was a really powerful experience,” said Andrea Harden, who helped organize the ride, to the CBC. “We had quite a large crowd for three days’ worth of organizing and I think that’s a testament to how people who ride bikes in this city feel.”

Residents of the Greater Toronto Area are all too familiar with protests and memorials for vulnerable road users. Pedestrian and cyclist deaths reached all-time highs over the past several years while municipal politicians have struggled to find solutions. Toronto City Council launched its own Vision Zero plan in 2017, but it has failed to produce positive results. Local road safety experts blame lack of investment in infrastructure improvements and hesitance to adopt controversial measures, such as lowering speed limits.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a cycling accident, contact Oakville Lawyers today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experienced bicycle accident lawyers.

Image credit: Richard Akerman/Wikimedia Commons

Cycling safety is not exclusively an urban issue

A collision between a pick-up truck and a group of 15 cyclists near Edmonton brought cycling safety back into the national spotlight last month. Two riders were hospitalized with serious but not life-threatening injuries, and bicycle accident lawyers in Ontario were reminded of early summer, when several vulnerable road users were struck and killed in Toronto.

Cycling injuries are a major issue in Canada. According to a 2017 Statistics Canada report, more than 1,400 cyclists died in crashes between 1994 and 2012, an average of 74 per year. Since 2010, the Ontario Office of the Chief Coroner has issued several recommendations to reduce cycling fatalities, including improved road infrastructure, side guards for heavy trucks, new legislation and enforcement of existing road safety laws, and mandatory helmet use.

In major Canadian cities where councilors are familiar with dooring and cycling accidents at busy intersections, these and other initiatives are already underway. However, as bicycle accident lawyers in Ontario know, cycling deaths and injuries are not restricted to urban environments, as evidenced by the recent accident outside Edmonton.

For a variety of reasons, smaller, more rural communities often find it challenging to build public support for cycling safety projects.

“Our [Canadian] landscape is a bit unique in that we’re very reliant on motor vehicles,” Canada Safety Council’s Lewis Smith told Global News. “In certain areas of the country, especially, it’s just not possible to get around with a bike and still maintain the same type of lifestyle.”

So, what can local politicians and rural cyclists do to improve safety? Annie McKitrick, the MLA for Sherwood Park, Alberta, believes the Edmonton collision may provide impetus for advocates to engage with the wider community.

“I think this incident has really been kind of a wake-up call on the need for the cycling community to get together, to advocate, and to ensure that cyclists and motorists know how to share the road safely,” said McKitrick, according to the CBC.

Public education and awareness campaigns are not the most effective means of reducing cycling accidents, but when infrastructure improvements are off the table, advocacy can go a long way. Simply reminding drivers of the need to share the road may be enough to prevent a serious accident or two.

If you or a member of your family has been injured in a cycling accident, contact Will Davidson LLP today to arrange a free, no-obligation consultation with our team of bicycle accident lawyers. We can assess the potential of your claim and provide guidance along your road to recovery.

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