Ontario: Premier Wynn Pleases Financial Supporters in the Insurance Industry by Delaying Auto-Insurance Decreases

Update: see previous posts – May 3, 2013 Ontario: Liberals to Build Additional HOT Lanes and Introduce High Occupany Toll Lanes, May 2, 2013 Ontario’s 2013 Budget: Driver’s Will Save On Auto-Insurance Premiums in Future, May 1, 2013 Ontario: Driver’s Should Save $225 Every Year Based On May 2, 2013 Budget, April 30, 2013 Ontario Auto Insurance: Accident victim Wins Challenge to Ontario’s $3,500 Minor Injury Cap, March 2, 2013 Ontario: If Auto-Insurance Premiums Are Not Lowered, Ontarians May Face Spring Election, February 5, 2013 Ontario: Time to Reduce Auto-Insurance Premiums for All Ontario Drivers, August 29, 2010 Auto Insurance Companies Whine about Medical Costs, August 22, 2010 Auto Insurance Rules Change September 1, 2010 (Ontario), November 13, 2009 Home Insurance Skyrockets in Ontario, November 5, 2009 Liberals Take Care of Ontario’s Auto Insurance Companies, October 5, 2009 Ontario Liberals Support Auto Insurance Profits, July 19, 2009 Insurance Rates Skyrocket in Ontario, June 11, 2009 Insurance Companies exercise discrimination due to “perceived genetic risks”., May 18, 2009 Ontario Auto Insurance – Reducing Accident Benefits from 100 to 25 Thousand Dollars.

While running for hte office of Premier of Ontario to replace Dalton McGuintywww.680news.com

In the recent leadership race of the Liberal Party of Ontario, the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC)  contributed over $60,000.00 to the leadership frontrunners. Kathleen Wynn accepted $25,000.00 in contributions for her election campaign.  After receiving and accepting the twenty-five thousand ($25,000.00) from the IBC, her campaign was effective and she was elected Premier of Ontario on the third ballot on January 26, 2013. In September 2010, the Ontario government increased auto-insurance premiums and cut the benefits in half. In 2011 the value of statutory accident payouts fell by just under $2 billion, an astonishing 50 per cent reduction from 2010, but that same year Ontario’s auto insurance rates still increased by 5 per cent.  When NDP Leader Andrea Horwath initially demanded a auto-insurance reduction for Ontarians, Wynn said it wouldn’t happen.  She changed her mind as the budget approached to maintain power and placed it in the budget, but she refused to provide a guideline as to the date it would start.  She spoke with her supporters in the auto-insurance industry and she says that it (reducing the rate) is complex.  How complex can it be Kathleen? If the insurance companies that offer auto-insurance, can send out a letter to a driver increasing their rates anywhere from 5-20%, then that same letter could reduce the same driver’s rate by 15%.  The IBC is banking on Premier Wynn to maintain the ever increasing profits Ontario auto-insurance companies made in 2011 & 2012 (statutory accident payouts fell by $2 billion in 2012 and alittle less in 2011). The IBC has atotal premium base of $44 billion, approximately half ($22 Billion) of which is derived from automobile insurance.  Photo by www.680news.com

see source

Premier Kathleen Wynne has slammed the brakes on the possibility of the minority Liberals achieving a 15 per cent cut on auto insurance rates within the NDP’s one-year deadline.

“I just don’t believe that it’s possible for us to put a firm date,” Wynne told reporters in Brampton, where she was promoting the budget measure in a bid to pressure the New Democrats to support the government.

“We’ve talked to the industry and we understand that it’s complex. We understand that there are changes across the system that need to be made so we have to do this in a prudent way,” the premier said Thursday.

“It has to be a viable outcome because what I don’t want to do is create a situation where there are people who won’t be able to get insurance because the insurance industry says, ‘Well, you’re pushing us too hard, we just won’t write insurance for certain parts of the population,’ ” she said.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada contributed Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) to Kathleen Wynn's political campaign, which resulted in her election to the position of premier on January 26, 2013.  The longer Premier Wynn delays the introduction of auto-insurance rates for drivers in Ontario, the more profits that the Ontario Auto-Insurance generate.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada contributed Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) to Kathleen Wynn’s political campaign, which resulted in her election to the position of premier on January 26, 2013. The longer Premier Wynn delays the introduction of auto-insurance rates for drivers in Ontario, the more profits that the Ontario Auto-Insurance are able to generate.

“I am not willing to put people at risk in that way.”

Cutting car insurance premiums is a cornerstone demand NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has made of Wynne in exchange for not toppling the Liberals when the budget is voted on.

It was one of seven policy requests made by Horwath that Finance Minister Charles Sousa incorporated into the May 2 budget.

Wynne made a point of praising NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh (Bramalea—Gore—Malton), as well as Liberal MPP Vic Dhillon (Brampton West) and Municipal Affairs Minister Linda Jeffrey, for highlighting the soaring GTA auto insurance rates.

Singh, main champion of the 15 per cent cut, said “a gradual reduction over one year” is not unreasonable and expressed concern that the Liberals may water down the pledge.

“The key problem is that the accountability is not there. Time and time again we’re promised things, but there’s no follow-through,” he said outside the Bramalea home where Wynne held her campaign-style event.

“This is a key issue. If we’re not seeing any concrete timelines, any concrete deadlines in terms of when we’ll see this 15 per cent reduction, it’s meaningless.”

The policies of the Ontario Liberal McGuinty government has allowed the private auto-insurance industry to make billions of dollars in profit.  The auto-insurance industry made a $25,000.00 contribution to Kathleen Wynn's Liberal leadership campaign, believing that like McGuinty, under Wynn the good times will continue to roll.  Wynn is trying not to disappoint her new friends.
The policies of the Ontario Liberal McGuinty government has allowed the private auto-insurance industry to make billions of dollars in profit. The auto-insurance industry made a $25,000.00 contribution to Kathleen Wynn’s Liberal leadership campaign, believing that like McGuinty, under Wynn the good times will continue to roll. Wynn is trying not to disappoint her new friends.

This week, Horwath has been introducing new conditions that must be met before her party can allow the budget to pass and avert a June vote that would cost $92 million and come 20 months since the last provincial election.

On Wednesday, the NDP leader demanded the creation of a $2.5 million a year “Financial Accountability Office” — modelled on the federal Parliamentary Budget Office — to provide oversight of provincial spending.

Friday morning at Queen’s Park, she will seek measures “to put accountability in the health-care system” and ensure the Liberals abide by a guarantee that home-care services are delivered within a maximum of five days.

Wynne said she was trying to keep an open mind about the New Democrats’ wish-list.

“In terms of the other requests the NDP is making at the moment . . . we don’t have a full list, we’re not exactly sure what the requests are,” the premier said.

“We believe that it’s not a bad idea that we have that discussion about the latest suggestion. My hope is that we’ll be able to get the budget passed.”

BIXI: If They Crash – Torontonians Will Come Up With the Cash

Update: see previous posts – April 24, 2013 BIXI: Toronto Bixi to Undergo a City Review On July 3, 2013, April 17, 2013 BIXI Toronto: A Failing Business, August 19, 2012 BIXI Toronto – Fails Green Test and Violates Muncipal By-laws Governed by the Highway Traffic Act, August 9, 2012 Art of Bicycle Maintenance Puts Young Workers on a New Path, January 23, 2012 Bixi – Coldest Day of the Year Bike Ride On Monday, Jan. 30/12 from Toronto City Hall to Royal York Hotel on Front St, August 28, 2011 BIXI Toronto – Wants to Expand in Toronto, While Charging Torontonians $17 More and Provides 15 Minutes Less, June 26, 2011 Bixie – When Will BIXI Give Torontonians the Same Deal They Give to Montrealers?, May 11, 2011 Bixi – Car Crashes Into Bike Rack at Bay & Queen Street Bixi Station , May 6, 2011 BIXI Quebec Already Lays Off Employees, May 4, 2011 Bixi Charges $17 More in Toronto and Gives 15 Minutes Less Free Time than Montreal, May 2, 2011 Bixi, April 30, 2011 Bixi – Toronto (Arriving Soon)

Bixi bikes at City Hall - Nathan Philips Square - 100 Queen Street West at the northwest corner of Queen & Bay streets in Toronto
Bixi bikes at City Hall – Nathan Phillips Square – 100 Queen Street West at the northwest corner of Queen & Bay streets in Toronto. Despite accumulating 4,630 paid subscribers and more than 1.3-million trips in the first year-and-a-half, BIXI Toronto is floundering financially. The company cannot make some debt payments, is struggling to cover its operating costs and at the end of March owed suppliers $1-million. It launched in 2011 after hammering out an agreement with the City of Toronto that saw the municipal government guarantee a $4.8-million capital loan to get the 1,000 bike and 80 station system going.

 

TTC chair Karen Stintz thinks the ailing Bixi bike system could be integrated with the TTC and perhaps even the Presto fare card.

see source

Should the TTC take over Toronto’s struggling Bixi bike sharing program?

“There’s an opportunity to expand Bixi to complement the TTC and give people more options around public transit. Before the (Bixi) program is closed I’d like an opportunity to explore how it could be a complement to the TTC,” Toronto Transit Commission chair Karen Stintz said Monday.

She plans to put the matter before the TTC board this month. Stintz would like TTC staff to gather its input before a city staff report goes before Toronto’s executive committee on July 3.

If the idea has merit but needs city funding, a discussion would need to take place, she said.

“It can’t siphon funds away from the TTC,” said Stintz.

Toronto is trying to figure out whether its two-year-old bike sharing program is viable and worth saving. It was established with a $4.8-million capital loan from the city. But the Montreal company that operates Bixi still owes $3.9 million.

Bixi officials have suggested the Toronto operation is too small, that it needs about 3,000 bikes to be viable but has only 1,000 at 80 stations and about 4,600 members.

TTC chair Karen Stintz says a proposal for the transit operator to take over the struggling Bixi bike program is worth looking at.
Stintz would like TTC staff to gather its input before a city staff report goes before Toronto’s executive committee on July 3.

If it fails, the bikes and docking stations aren’t expected to sell for more than $1.2 million.

Montreal’s Bixi program has 5,000 bikes and last summer had 50,000 members. But it too has struggled financially. That city’s transit system is expected to take over the bike sharing operations later this year.

“If we were to rethink how Bixi integrates with the TTC and perhaps also integrate it with (the Presto fare card), we might find ourselves with a better service to the public,” said Stintz.

If there’s a subway delay, TTC riders travelling a short distance would have the option of grabbing a bike to complete their trip.

But Mayor Rob Ford said he wouldn’t support integrating Bixi with the TTC.

“Bixi’s a failure,” he said Monday. “It should be dissolved. It’s not working.”

Bixi needs a source of capital that isn’t tied to operating revenue, said Daniel Egan, the city’s manager of cycling infrastructure.

“It’s not so much who operates the program because lots of people could operate it. The question really is the capital funding. That’s the challenge Bixi Toronto is having. The capital loan has to be paid off by operating revenues and we know after two years of operation that’s not working,” he said.

Many U.S. bike sharing programs rely on government grants. Bigger programs such as those in New York and London have corporate sponsorships.

Toronto’s Bixi has sponsors in place until 2014. It would be premature to look at different sponsorship programs until the city figures out a new financial model, said Egan.

Karen Stintz
TTC chair Karen Stintz says a proposal for the transit operator to take over the struggling Bixi bike program is worth looking at. She added “There’s an opportunity to expand Bixi to complement the TTC and give people more options around public transit. Before the (Bixi) program is closed I’d like an opportunity to explore how it could be a complement to the TTC,”

Bikes and transit are a natural fit, said Jared Kolb of Cycle Toronto.

“When you look at trips within our city, what public bike systems like Bixi do is they fill in the gaps for trips that are too short to take transit or too far to walk — that two-kilometre sweet spot,” he said.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam said she plans to take her idea of giving developers a break on parking requirements to the city’s planning committee. She said she already has a developer willing to install four Bixi stations for $200,000 in exchange for 24 car parking spaces.

“I think everything should be studied,” said Wong-Tam. “We’re not in a position to close the door on any ideas.”

Toronto: Pedestrian’s Receive Additional Time (5 Seconds to Cross a 30-Metre Intersection) to Cross Streets

Update:

Given the traffic congestion that Toronto suffers from, motorists are always in a rush to make up time they feel they have lost due to heavy traffic, getting stuck behind a streetcar or negotiating their way around construction; this inevitably leads to frustrated drivers who are almost revving their engines as a light almost turns green.  There is alot less tolerance for elderly or disabled pedestrians crossing the street, at a pace which some drivers feel is unacceptable. Toronto previously required pedestrians to walk at 1.2 metres per second to cross most intersections. That pace, long considered an international standard, is still used across the continent. Toronto and York Region have switched to a slower pace, 1 metre per second, that is preferred by advocates for the elderly and for pedestrians.
Given the traffic congestion that Toronto suffers from, motorists are always in a rush to make up time they feel they have lost due to heavy traffic, getting stuck behind a streetcar or negotiating their way around construction; this inevitably leads to frustrated drivers who are almost revving their engines as a traffic light is about to turn green. There is alot less tolerance for elderly or disabled pedestrians crossing the street, at a pace, which some drivers feel is unacceptable. Toronto previously required pedestrians to walk at 1.2 metres per second to cross most intersections. That pace, long considered an international standard, is still used across the continent. Toronto and York Region have switched to a slower pace, 1 metre per second, that is preferred by advocates for the elderly and for pedestrians.

see source

Intersection by intersection, Mayor Rob Ford’s Toronto is quietly becoming friendlier to pedestrians.

Since January 2010, nearly a year before Ford took office, city transportation workers have been modifying hundreds of traffic signals per year to give people more time to cross the street.

More and more pedestrians have mobility issues and require additional time to cross the street.
More and more pedestrians have mobility issues and require additional time to cross the street, whether it be at a traffic light (fixed time signal or semi-automated signal) or crosswalk.

Toronto previously required pedestrians to walk at 1.2 metres per second to cross most intersections. That pace, long considered an international standard, is still used across the continent. Toronto and York Region have switched to a slower pace, 1 metre per second, that is preferred by advocates for the elderly and for pedestrians.

“You frequently see older people who are walking with a cane or crutches or something of that sort, and they have panic in their eyes because they don’t want the light to change before they get to the other side,” said Norm Shulman, executive director of the Ontario Gerontology Association.

Since January 2010, nearly a year before Ford took office, city transportation workers have been modifying hundreds of traffic signals per year to give people more time to cross the street.
Since January 2010, nearly a year before Ford took office, city transportation workers have been modifying hundreds of traffic signals per year to give people more time to cross the street. Only about 475 Toronto intersections used the slower standard as of early 2010. As of this week, more than 1,500 intersections did — about 68 per cent. The rest will be converted by the end of 2014, said urban traffic control systems manager Rajnath Bissessar.

The switch means pedestrians now get at least 30 seconds instead of 25 seconds to cross a major 30-metre intersection like those common outside the downtown core. It also means drivers must wait longer at red lights.

Only about 475 Toronto intersections used the slower standard as of early 2010. As of this week, more than 1,500 intersections did — about 68 per cent. The rest will be converted by the end of 2014, said urban traffic control systems manager Rajnath Bissessar.

The switch, Bissessar said, was prompted by international studies, complaints from seniors, a similar change in the U.S traffic manual, and recognition of the needs of the city’s aging population. Pedestrians over the age of 65 are disproportionately likely to be struck by cars.

Pedestrians in wheelchairs and using mobility devices are in need of more time while crossing the street.
Pedestrians in wheelchairs and using mobility devices are in need of more time while crossing the street.

“Signal timing is always a balancing act,” Bissessar said. “We recognize that there may be an impact on congestion but our primary focus was safety for pedestrians, particularly the elderly, since they are the most vulnerable segment of the pedestrian population.”

Bissessar said longer walk times at the intersection of two major streets may not actually increase traffic congestion, since extra time is being provided in both directions. And at the intersection of a major street and a minor street, “the increase in walk time can be accommodated within the existing cycle length so the impact on main street traffic would be minimal,” he said.

Neither the Canadian Automobile Association nor Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, the public works committee chair and Ford ally who has regularly advocated for drivers, was aware of the change in Toronto until the Star told them about it. Neither offered any criticism.

“Toronto has to adapt and respond to changing demographics and encourage people to get out and walk and get exercise, especially older people who will benefit from getting out of their homes,” said Minnan-Wong, who noted the city is also working to better synchronize lights. “If the seniors can’t cross the street, they won’t come out.”

York Region adopted the slower pace in 2011 after a highly publicized — though very possibly random — series of pedestrian deaths in the summer of 2010. Steven Kemp, York’s director of traffic management, said he does not consider the switch “major.”

“To say that it’s had a direct impact on pedestrian safety I think would be a stretch,” Kemp said. “But, at the same time, we know the population is getting older, pedestrians overall are getting slower . . . so I think, intuitively, there are some safety benefits to doing it.”

Toronto is reducing crossing speeds in conjunction with an equipment upgrade. Bissessar said the cost is about $50 per intersection when done with the rest of the project, $300 when done independently.

Crossing speeds may gradually get lower across the country. A draft report from a Transportation Association of Canada project that involved several municipalities, including Toronto, recommends a standard pace of 1 metre per second and a pace of 0.9 metres per second for intersections where at least 20 per cent of pedestrians are 65 or older, Bissessar said.

 

TTC: GAP Between Subway Car and Platform Almost Took Life of 4-Year-Old Girl

Update:

 Ava Buckareff, 4, narrowly escaped a frightening incident when she fell through the gap between the subway and platform at St. Clair station Wednesday. She was briefly suspended at her upper torso before she was pulled to safety by her aunt. DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR

Ava Buckareff, 4, narrowly escaped a frightening incident when she fell through the gap between the subway and platform at St. Clair station Wednesday. She was briefly suspended at her upper torso before she was pulled to safety by her aunt. DAVID COOPER / TORONTO STAR

If you want to prevent a Toronto Transit Commission Subway Train’s door from closing and prevent the train from moving forward – simply stand in the doorway of the subway train preventing the doors from closing (shutting) or ask another passenger to stop the subway train’s doors from closing (shutting) and this will stop the train from moving forward and will alert the driver of the emergency.

see source

The subway doors opened, and for a few terrifying moments, it was as if time stopped.

Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday evening, Ava Buckareff, 4, was boarding the train at St. Clair station when she slipped through the gap between the southbound platform and the subway car. As her aunt and older brother looked on in horror, the child became suspended at her upper torso, her head and arm above the platform while the rest of her body dangled below.

The gap that exists between the train and the platform.  It is larger at some of the ends of the platform. Brad Ross, Spokesperson for the TTC, came up with some pretty glib and insensitive advice and comments in response to this near death experience for a tiny little 4-year-old girl. Ross described Wednesday’s incident as “distressing.” But he said no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children. “Get on anywhere you like on the train, but hold your child’s hand and help them onto the train to make sure they’re OK,” Ross said.
The gap that exists between the train and the platform. It is larger at some of the ends of the platform.
Brad Ross, Spokesperson for the TTC, came up with some pretty glib and insensitive advice and comments in response to this near death experience for a tiny little 4-year-old girl.  Ross described Wednesday’s incident as “distressing.” But he said no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children. “Get on anywhere you like on the train, but hold your child’s hand and help them onto the train to make sure they’re OK,” Ross said.  Perhaps Mr. Ross should attempt to put himself in the place of Ava & Esther Buckareff and attempt to correct this situation and put measures in place to prevent this from happening again. Warning parents that the gap is larger at each end of train, up to 15 cm’s, may be a great start.  Will the TTC let another child fall through the cracks?

 

“She could have fallen. Blink — and she would have been down,” recalls her aunt, Esther Buckareff.

Buckareff, who was still standing on the platform, bent down and scooped up her niece, grabbing hold of the little girl beneath her armpits and hoisting her into the train.

Who would have known, as a passenger riding the TTC's subway, that the GAP is smaller in some areas and larger in other area's, until this near tragic incident occurred.  The TTC should take steps, (other than letting their spokesperson Brad Ross make glib comments) to ensure this doesn't happen again.
Who would have known, as a passenger riding the TTC’s subway, that the GAP is smaller in some areas and larger in other area’s, until this near tragic incident occurred. The TTC should take steps, (other than letting their spokesperson Brad Ross make glib comments) to ensure this doesn’t happen again. 
The TTC says it is investigating why the driver didn’t hear the commotion, but says it has no plans to change station platforms.It will, however, install another warning sign at the St. Clair station. 

 

According to Buckareff, concerned passengers were banging on the glass to alert the driver, but those efforts went unnoticed. She said it was by a stroke of luck that when the chimes sounded and the doors slid shut, she was safely inside with both kids.

The TTC acknowledged The size of the gap between subway and platform vary depending on the station and section of the platform, from as small as 2.5 cm (roughly one inch) to as wide as 10 to 15 cm at the ends of certain platforms, where there is a “curvature of the track,” he said.
The TTC acknowledged that the size of the gap between subway and platform vary depending on the station and section of the platform, from as small as 2.5 cm (roughly one inch) to as wide as 10 to 15 cm at the ends of certain platforms, where there is a “curvature of the track,”. It will be interesting to see what steps, if any, the TTC will take in response to this very serious situation.

Although her niece is uninjured, she said the incident should serve as a warning.

“It was a near-horrible thing,” she said. “I’d like the gap repaired, because if Ava fell through, other kids could fall through.”

Brad Ross, spokesman for the TTC, said an investigation into the incident, which Buckareff detailed in an online complaint, is underway, but he acknowledged “it is plausible.”

The size of the gap between subway and platform vary depending on the station and section of the platform, from as small as 2.5 cm (roughly one inch) to as wide as 10 to 15 cm at the ends of certain platforms, where there is a “curvature of the track,” he said.

None of the signage that TTC has erected speaks to more danger of a child or pet falling through the gap at the ends of the trains, given that the "gap" is larger and therefore more dangerous in those areas.
None of the signage that TTC has erected speaks to more danger of a child or pet falling through the gap at the ends of the trains, where there is a “curvature of the track,” given that the “gap” is larger and therefore more dangerous in those areas. TTC’s Brad Ross had this to say “.. no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children. Mr. Ross may feel and react totally differently if it was his nephew which he snatched from the jaws of death.

 

The far end of the southbound platform at St. Clair station, where the incident occurred, is one of those places.

Although Ross said he didn’t know the exact measurement, he said, “It is bigger than average. There’s no doubt about it.”

The Star measured the gap on several different trains at that location on Thursday. It was between 10 cm and just over 15 cm.

Ross said the TTC has tried to narrow these gaps as much as possible, but these efforts are limited by the “tail swing” of the train.

“Building out a platform lip, while static, makes sense, but when a train is actually moving, we wouldn’t be able to achieve too much without the train clipping that build-out,” he said.

Ross said the TTC has installed emergency buttons inside trains and on the platform, and uses signs on every car to remind riders to “Mind the Gap.”

“Subway platforms do pose significant dangers and that’s why we have a number of safety features in the system,” he said.

Ross described Wednesday’s incident as “distressing.” But he said no special instructions need be given to parents about boarding the train at the far ends of the platform with small children.

“Get on anywhere you like on the train, but hold your child’s hand and help them onto the train to make sure they’re OK,” Ross said.

However, that’s not good enough for Buckareff, who said it’s unrealistic to expect that parents are “shackled to the wrist” of their children at all times.

When boarding the train on Wednesday evening, she said her niece and nephew sprinted ahead, anxious to get a spot at the very front of the car, so they could watch the tunnel out the window.

“If I were holding her hand, she either would have tripped into that hole, or she still may have fallen into it,” she said. “You don’t hold your child’s hand like you’re going to lose them for life.”

 

Toronto: City Councillor Wants “Made-in-Toronto” 3-Foot Rule to Protect Cyclists from Vehicles

Update:

The three (3) foot rule is by no means new, but it would definitely introduce the idea to motorists in Toronto, that cyclists need space to feel and be safe.  Chances are, that if this catches on with motorists and they accept it, it may reduce the number of cyclists on large bicycles from riding on the sidewalks in Toronto, endangering pedestrians.
The three (3) foot rule is by no means new, but it would definitely introduce the idea to motorists in Toronto, that cyclists need space to feel and be safe. Chances are, that if this catches on with motorists and they accept it, it may reduce the number of cyclists on large bicycles from riding on the sidewalks in Toronto, endangering pedestrians.

A Toronto city councillor wants drivers to give a mandatory three feet of space when passing a cyclist, or be fined.

see source

A pool of blood, a crumpled bicycle and the loss of two lives.

Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam was affected by Jenna Morrison’s death last November. The 38-year-old woman was killed when her bicycle tire was clipped by a truck passing too closely. She was pregnant with her second child.

Now, the city councillor is seeking a provincial law requiring drivers to give cyclists three feet of space when passing them.

However, Wong-Tam doesn’t want to wait for the province to make it law and is requesting the city implement its own three-foot rule until the traffic act is changed and driver education and testing requirements updated.

“The issues around road safety they’ve been coming to a boil point,” she said of tensions on the roads. “We need to learn how to share the roads.”

While there is no three-foot rule in Canada, it’s the law in 39 states — Pennsylvania has a four-foot rule — and it comes with a fine in a number of them. Colorado motorists face a $110 penalty, while in Arizona drivers are fined only when they injure a cyclist (up to $500, $1,000 for a death).

Such a law would improve the relationship between motorists and cyclists, said Jared Kolb, executive director of Cycle Toronto.

“We’ve got some cycling infrastructure and some fast streets that motorists and cyclists share,” he said. “It’s a low-cost method to send a fairly strong signal that motorists need to have caution when passing cyclists.”

Despite some success, a number of states have failed to pass similar legislation. And police don’t always pay attention to the law. In Florida, only 337 tickets were issued between 2006 and 2010, with police arguing the law is impossible to enforce.

The 3 foot idea will proceed to City Council on May 7, 2013
The 3 foot idea will proceed to City Council on May 7, 2013, where is will be tabled.

Last September, the three-foot rule garnered attention in California after Gov. Edmund Brown Jr. vetoed a proposed bill for a second time, citing liability issues if a driver must cross a double-solid line to pass a cyclist.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a similar bill in 2009, but nine cities have since implemented the distance rule. Houston is currently debating the issue; motorists there would be fined $500.

Vaguely written, Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act mandates that cyclists pull to the right and drivers to the left “so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision.”

In his 2012 review of 129 cycling deaths between 2006 and 2010, Ontario’s chief coroner said more than 26,000 people provincially visited an emergency room for cycling injuries in 2009 alone. Insufficient passing room was responsible for the majority of cycling deaths reviewed.

The coroner’s report has fallen by the wayside, said Wong-Tam.

“When the review came out in 2012, everyone made announcements and statements were made and then we haven’t heard anything else.”

Wong-Tam’s notice of motion needs a two-thirds vote from council to avoid referral to Mayor Rob Ford’s executive committee where it would likely not survive. “This is an issue around public safety and I hope they can rally around it,” she said.

The motion will be tabled at the May 7 council meeting.