Coalition pushes for law to protect vulnerable road users

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Right to Left: David Stark (holding photo of late wife Erica who was killed while walking their dog), Li Yu (with photo of late friend Zhi Yong Kang, cyclist), Maisie Leblanc (with photo of Edouard, cyclist), Linda Tushingham and her son Alex (with photo of late husband/father Bruce, cyclist). Photos by Jun Nogami.

Coalition pushes for law to protect vulnerable road users

A coalition of groups, including the 300,000-­member United Senior Citizens of Ontario, Kids at Play, Cycle Toronto, Walk Toronto, TCAT, The Toronto Bicycling Network and others, is calling on the Attorney General of Ontario to follow the lead of several US jurisdictions (including New York, Oregon and Washington) by implementing a Vulnerable Road User Law.

The coaltion held a press conference on the morning of Sept. 10 (which resulted in multiple stories in the mainstream media, including this Global News TV spot) to highlight the need for better laws to protect vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. Over the last two years, 78 pedestrians and cyclists have been killed in Toronto's streets.

Toronto Public Health recently reported that in two-thirds of these cases, a driving infraction immediately preceded the pedestrian's death.

Distracted driving has become a major problem around the world, and Ontario needs to do more to address this. Fines were recently raised in Ontario, which dandyhorse applauded -- now we need to see increased inforcement and a smoother process for seeing these penalties come to fruition. In other words, we need bite with the bark.

The Vulnerable Road Users law would see harsher penalties for motorists who injure or kill a pedestrian or cyclist. New penalities would include license suspensions, road saftey training, and community service. In addition, motorists would be required to attend court to listen to Victim Impact Statements. David Stark, the husband of Erica who was killed while walking, said it was very difficult for him to explain to his three young sons why the driver that killed their mother did not have to apologize.

As Albert Koehl, a representative for the coalition (pictured below), said: "When the penalty for killing a pedestrian isn’t a lot more than the fine for a parking violations, we know that there is something seriously wrong with the justice system."

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Lawyers Patrick Brown and Albert Koehl both served on the expert panel for the Ontario Chief Coroner’s 2012 review of pedestrian and cyclist deaths. They are pictured taking questions from the media at the Vulnerable Road Users press conference, above. Photos by Jun Nogami.

If you want to express your support for this new law you can email the Minister of Transport at: sdelduca.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

Or, sign the petition here.

Some stats on cycling and pedestrian deaths:

25%: Canadian traffic fatalities involving vulnerable road users

30%: Cycling deaths caused by speeding drivers, according to the Ontario Coroner's 2010 report

28 per cent: Cycling deaths caused by driver inattention

7: Motorists that died on Toronto roads in 2013

40: Pedestrians that died on Toronto roads in 1990 and 2013

2: Cyclists that died on Toronto roads in 1990

4: Cyclists that died on Toronto roads in 2013

$85: Fine for riding a bike on the sidewalk

 

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