Killer faces $500 fine

A 62-year-old man was charged with an improper right turn, and faces a $500 fine.

That improper turn killed Gary Sim, 70, of Mount Dennis, who was riding his bike on Jane Street. Sim died in hospital on July 2.

Is there a pro-car bias baked into the legal system? Heather Sim, the victim’s daughter, says so.

“If I was walking down the street swinging a lead pipe and hit someone, I’d be (facing an) assault charge … You just not paying attention and hitting people (with your car) doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a Highway Traffic Act charge,” she said.

Even the police think this is wrong. The Star says we could have a vulnerable road-user law, which would increase penalties for motorists who kill pedestrians or cyclists.

The province has been looking into this possibility for more than a year.

 

Ghost ride tonight

There will be a ghost ride tonight in honour of Gary Sim, who was killed riding his bike in the Mount Dennis area. The ride starts at Bloor and Spadina at 6 pm, and will end at Jane Park Plaza between 7:30 and 8.

Gary Sim
From The Star

The ghost bike movement honours cyclists who were killed by placing memorial white bikes where they were struck. 

Gary Sim, 70, was an avid bicyclist and bike advocate, and a lifelong Mount Dennis resident. He was struck by a van making a right turn into a driveway on June 30. He died of his injuries.

Another pedestrian struck in Mount Dennis

Another pedestrian has been struck and seriously injured in Mount Dennis.

An 86-year-old man was trying to cross Weston south of Eglinton when he was struck by a 2009 Hyundai heading southbound. He was sent to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.

The police are asking for witnesses to the accident to come forward.

This is the third time that a pedestrian has been seriously injured at that intersection in the past 10 years.

Your correspondent does not know what happened in this case. The police report implies that the pedestrian was jaywalking, which, I hasten to add, we all do. However, that intersection is just plain dangerous because it is skewed intersection“skewed”—the roads do not meet at 90º.

  • Crossing times are longer because the intersection is wider.
  • Older people sometimes have limited head and neck mobility, and may find craning difficult.
  • Drivers can take obtuse-angle turns at higher speeds.

Transport Canada recommends correcting skewed intersections so that the roads meet at 90º.

Cyclist killed in Mount Dennis area.

The Star has the sad story of a cyclist killed in the Mount Dennis area last week. A motorist struck 70-year-old Gary Sim while he rode near Alliance and Jane. He later died in hospital.

The police recently released a 10-year data set on cyclist and pedestrian deaths and serious injuries, which your correspondent has mapped for Ward 11. The results are telling.

  • Four pedestrians and one cyclist have been struck at Weston and Lawrence.
  • 19 pedestrians and four cyclists have been struck on Weston Road.
  • Ten more pedestrians and four cyclists have been hit along Jane.

These data are certainly very conservative, and only report deaths and serious injuries.

Many of these accidents—I use the word loosely—happen because we have very poor cycling and pedestrian infrastructure.

There is no way, for instance, to get to the Junction, and the bike paths from there to downtown, without riding on the hilly, fast, four-lane Jane expressway. Riding on Weston terrifies even me, a gigantic, fast, fit and ferocious cyclist.

In fact, not one path connects Weston or Mount Dennis with the downtown. This is crazy. The solution is simple and expensive: a dual-use railside path (and a lane along Eglinton).

The West Toronto Railpath is exceptional. It’s fast and safe, and good enough for downtown. Why isn’t it good enough for Weston?

Metrolinx could make this happen. They’re working on electrification, which will entail widening and moving tracks (again). Instead of wasting billions on hydrogen powered trains, they could build paths for potato-powered people.

Great news and bad news.

It’s well known that many more people in Toronto would cycle if they were isolated and safe from other traffic. The Ontario Government announced today that it will be spending up to $42.5 million on cycling infrastructure across the province. According to Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca, the Ontario Municipal Cycling Commuter Program aims to, “promote safety for cyclists and make cycling more comfortable and more appealing for daily commutes and other frequent trips”. The Ministry has also set up a website to promote cycling. This is great news as York South Weston is one of the most under-served wards in the city when it comes to separated bike lanes. As pointed out in a previous article, a few sharrows are the main concession to cycling in the Weston, Mount-Dennis area.

Toronto Council and the mayor were no doubt horrified and shamed by the recent tragic death of a five year-old riding with a parent in a separate but unprotected lane adjacent to busy traffic. This lane should have been physically separated from Lakeshore Road traffic had the city followed its own guidelines. The fact that it wasn’t is an indication of the low esteem in which cyclists and their safety are held in the city. The Mayor has offered to dither study the matter once more – a familiar council tactic designed to do nothing after the clamour for action has died down.

The lack of separation is contrary to the city’s own guidelines. From the Toronto Star.

Instead, Mayor Tory may wish to actually read the city’s existing guidelines concerning cycle trails in the city. I’ve saved him the bother of doing a ‘study’ by quoting the relevant section.

6.4.1. Trails Adjacent High-Volume or High-Speed Arterial Roadways

High-volume and high-speed roadways may have space for trails in the lands dedicated to them. Generally,

these are roadways with speeds of 60 km/h or more and four or more lanes of traffic. These types of roadways often do not have sidewalks, and a trail adjacent should be planned in a similar manner as a trail within a dedicated right-of-way.

The conflict between high-speed traffic and trail uses is best addressed by distance. Designers should try to achieve the maximum distance between the trail and the roadway. Aligning trails at the maximum distance from the roadway will also help to “future-proof” the trail against road expansions.

Where an appropriate distance cannot be achieved, guide rails and a physical separation such as a fence or landscaping are recommended.*

*my bold.

Toronto City Council has a large number of car-centric members. Read here (and weep) for some of our elected officials opining on two-wheeled transportation.

So the bad news is therefore that any spending has to be approved by individual members of Toronto City Council. Let’s hope it won’t take any more lives before some concrete and meaningful action is taken. With the province providing up to 80% of the funding, there will no longer be a valid excuse not to act.

 

Park Construction Update.

Our local parks are undergoing a variety of transformations. In Raymore Park, rehabilitation of the retaining wall staging area is well under way,  a new off-leash area has been set up while sewer re-lining along the Humber is still likely to take a few more months.

Rehabilitation work continues after the Raymore Park retaining wall construction. New trees have been planted this week.

In Lions Park, heavy vehicles undertaking sewer work have destroyed the bike path and cones have been placed to warn cyclists and pedestrians.

Heavy construction vehicles have destroyed the dedicated bike / pedestrian path near the Raymore footbridge.

In Cruickshank Park, stabilization work is taking place that will prevent further erosion of the TCHC property at 1025 Scarlett Road. At the moment a bridge is being used to access the site and the walkway through the park has been blocked in order for the work to proceed. The end date is set for next month but judging by the current state of construction, that looks extremely optimistic and unlikely.

1025 Scarlett Road from the Weston side showing the bank stabilization work.
The temporary bridge allows access to the work from the Weston side.

Needless to say, the bike / pedestrian trail (Humber Trail / Pan Am Path) needs to be re-paved. When this will happen is anyone’s guess but all work involving heavy construction vehicles will have to be finished no doubt. Construction projects seem to take longer than advertised in this part of Toronto for some reason. Anyway, probably not this year. This will mean some tough sledding for walkers and cyclists for quite some time. One good thing is that the replacement path, when it finally gets here, will be built wider to meet new city standards.

Bike to work day

May 29 will be Toronto’s Bike to Work day. Take it from me, there’s no better way to feel like a mad (and healthy) anarchist than to take two wheels to work.

Traffic jam on the Humber Trail
Traffic jam on the Humber Trail

Despite a few quite notable shortcomings, Weston has a really blessed location for commuters up for a beautiful, if leisurely, ride. Wendell connects to bike paths heading north; the Humber River Trail carries hundreds of riders west and south every day. East and southeast are, I admit, a struggle–but I am quite convinced that demand creates its own supply: if we demand better connections to the city, we will get them.

Your correspondent is always delighted to help with route planning, bike shop tips, and even with free repairs. Just drop a comment if you need a hand.