All of the province’s 129 cycling deaths between 2006 and 2010 were preventable, according to a review by Ontario’s Office of the Chief Coroner that also made numerous recommendations, including mandatory bike helmets for all ages and side guards for heavy trucks.
“Each and every one of these tragic deaths was preventable,” Dr. Dan Cass, deputy chief coroner said Monday at a news conference in Toronto.
The office reviewed the 129 cycling deaths that occurred between Jan. 1, 2006, and Dec. 31, 2010.
Of the 129 deaths, 104 were the result of a collision between a cyclist and a vehicle, Dr. Cass said. A cyclist collided with another object or fell off the bike without a collision occurred in the remaining cases.
Most of the deaths occurred in the spring and summer months with the crashes occurring in good weather and in good road conditions, he said.
Almost one-third of the cyclists died while commuting.
The rate of helmet use was only 27 per cent. Even among those under 18 years old for whom helmets are mandatory, more than half who died weren’t wearing one.
The data was analyzed and presented to an expert panel comprised of members from the cycling community, police and other individuals who made 14 recommendations in four areas including infrastructure, education and legislation.
Among the recommendations:
– Mandatory bike helmet legislation for all ages.
– Mandatory side guards for heavy trucks and consideration for other safety equipment.
– Adoption of a “complete streets” approach to guide new communities and redevelopment of existing ones.
– Development of a network of highways with paved shoulders to facilitate cycling.
– Strategies to promote and support helmet use, including financial incentives such as tax breaks and rebate programs.
– Establishment of a one-metre rule for vehicles when passing cyclists.
“The motto of the Office of the Chief Coroner is we speak for the dead to protect the living,” Dr. Cass said. “We feel that these recommendations speak for the 129 cyclists who lost their lives during the review period and indeed for all Ontarians who lost their lives while cycling.”
Ontario’s transportation minister Bob Chiarelli said the province will update its cycling policy and review the coroner’s recommendations.
“We endorse the principles in his recommendations and we will assess those recommendations in a timely manner while also considering timelines and budgets,” he said in a release.
Cycle Toronto, formerly Toronto Cyclists Union, applauded the coroner’s recommendations.
“Not only did the Coroner listen to our concerns, but he took a giant step forward by making his first recommendation the adoption of a ‘Complete Streets’ approach. If implemented, this will save lives, reduce unnecessary injury, and get more people riding more often throughout the City”, said Jared Kolb, director of membership and outreach for Cycle Toronto.
A review of pedestrian deaths would follow in the fall, Ontario’s chief coroner Dr. Andrew McCallum said Monday.
Any thoughts to the recommendations for making cycling safer in the city? Does this make you feel safer when YOU ride?