Can Cities and the Province do more to Protect Cyclists?

Every Ontario personal injury lawyer is familiar with the frequency of car accidents and the grave injuries they cause. In particular, accidents involving vulnerable road users – cyclists and pedestrians – can result in serious, enduring injuries.

Cycling has become a favourite mode of transportation in many of Canada’s largest cities. As more cyclists have hit the streets, many cities, including Toronto, have seen an increase in traffic accidents involving bicycles. ‘Dooring’ accidents, for example, became more common each year from 2014 to 2016. As of late November, 171 dooring accidents were reported in Toronto in 2017.

As we discussed briefly in a blog last spring, dooring occurs when a driver opens their car door and strikes a cyclist. Currently, any driver that doors a cyclist faces a fine of up to $1000 and three demerit points. However, Toronto District School Board trustee Chris Glover, the education representative on the Toronto Board of Health, introduced a motion recommending changes to provincial dooring laws at the city’s Public Works committee this fall. Glover was injured in a dooring accident in 2016.

“He opened the back door on me,” he told the CBC. “I hit the back door. I got bruises all down my left arm and left leg. My bike wheel was twisted.”

Though Glover’s injuries were minor compared to what an Ontario personal injury lawyer might be familiar with, the event inspired him to investigate dooring in Toronto and recommend legislative changes. For instance, he was surprised to discover that dooring penalties under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act don’t apply to drivers if a passenger opens the door of their car.

In addition to holding drivers “partly responsible” for those incidents, Glover’s motion suggests teaching the “Dutch Reach” – when drivers and passengers use the arm opposite their car door to open it – in driver education courses and mandating cyclist safety training for ride share drivers.

Though dooring-specific safety measures could reduce serious cycling injuries in Toronto and other Ontario cities, there are bigger issues at play. Drivers must learn to better share the road with vulnerable road users, especially in densely populated areas where cyclists and pedestrians are most common. Public education campaigns, police safety blitzes, and safety laws at the provincial and municipal levels all have a part to play in improving safety on Ontario’s streets.

If you are injured in a cycling accident, you should immediately consult an Ontario personal injury lawyer to assess your legal options. Contact Will Davidson LLP today to discuss how we may be able to help.

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