Queen’s Park Looking At Increasing Penalties for Motorists Hitting Cyclists

Update:

"Cyclists

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A Liberal MPP whose husband, a police officer, was killed by a truck while he was cycling 10 years ago this week is pushing for tougher penalties against drivers who hit cyclists.

A Liberal MPP whose police officer husband was killed by a truck while cycling 10 years ago this week is pushing for tougher penalties against drivers who hit cyclists.

Eleanor McMahon (Burlington) moved an amendment to the Highway Traffic Act on Thursday that would increase jail time and fines for careless driving causing death or bodily harm.

“My life and the lives of so many people dear to me changed forever when a careless driver struck and killed my husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart,” said McMahon, who founded the Share the Road cycling coalition after his death in June 2006.

“Greg was killed while in a training ride in Milton on his bicycle. He was 44 years old. Greg’s death and his life’s work as an OPP officer have been the impetus for the direction I’ve taken in my life over the past decade,” she said.

Cyclists on road. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclists on road. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Michael Dougan, the Grimsby trucker who hit Stobbart, was spared a jail sentence even though he already had five previous convictions for driving while suspended and four for driving without insurance.

Dougan was sentenced to a two-year probation term and lost his driver’s licence for a year. He had also previously served two jail sentences for criminal offences.

McMahon, first elected in June 2014 and touted to be elevated to Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet in a shuffle expected next week, worked with MPPs from the opposition parties to build support for her proposal.

It passed second reading on a unanimous voice vote Thursday, just before the house broke for the summer recess, and will be examined by the standing committee on the legislative assembly this fall.

Cyclists in bike lane. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclists in bike lane. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca praised McMahon’s efforts.

“It’s important to stress that Eleanor McMahon has done extraordinary work on this bill. She’s worked with all the stakeholders. Obviously, she has a profound sense of why it’s important to continually move towards making sure our roads and highways remain safe at all times,” said Del Duca.

“The Ministry of Transportation is always open to the conversation about how we can improve the situation,” he said.

Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown said his party takes road safety seriously and is open to McMahon’s amendment.

“We do need to do more to combat reckless driving. Obviously, her story is a very personal one that speaks to why we should be looking in this area,” said Brown.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said “there’s no doubt that we need to do everything we can to try to protect the cyclists on the road from the devastation that occurs when there’s an accident that involves a motor vehicle.”

Horwath noted stiffer sentences could create “a heightened level of awareness” among drivers.

“They really do need to look out for cyclists as well as pedestrians, frankly,” she said.

Cyclist waiting for passengers to unload and load into a TTC streetcar. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclist waiting for passengers to unload and load into a TTC streetcar. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

To that end, McMahon’s bill would increase careless driving fines to up to $50,000, jail sentences to the provincial offence maximum of two years, and licence suspensions of up to five years.

Those convicted could also be ordered to complete a road-safety or driver-training course.

Her changes would extend the statute of limitations from six months to years in order to give police officers more time to investigate before charges are laid.

And it would make it easier for police to lay serious provincial charges.

“In order to charge a driver under the Criminal Code, there would need to be established intent to kill, or the motorist in question would have to be so outrageously dangerous that the driver would have known that killing someone was a likely possibility,” noted McMahon.

Toronto police Constable Hugh Smith, who works on traffic safety, said it is difficult to prove criminal intent when dealing with auto crashes.

“A lot of times with careless (driving), it was unintentional, so there was no intention for that person to have done it,” said Smith,

“So, by sheer fact of their environment or not paying attention — distraction — somebody got killed or seriously injured, but they are responsible for that.”

Bill 213, Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Careless Driving), 2016

Bill 213                                                                                                     2016

An Act to amend the Highway Traffic Act with respect to careless driving causing death or bodily harm

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Ontario, enacts as follows:

   1.  (1)  Section 130 of the Highway Traffic Act is amended by adding “Subject to subsection (2)” at the beginning.

   (2)  Section 130 of the Act is amended by adding the following subsections:

Penalty for careless driving causing death or bodily harm

   (2)  If the commission of an offence under subsection (1) results in the death of or bodily harm to any person, the convicted person is liable instead to a fine of not less than $2,000 and not more than $50,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years, or to both, and in addition,

  (a)  his or her licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than five years; and

  (b)  he or she may be ordered to complete a road safety course or driver training course.

Limitation period is two years

   (3)  Despite section 76 of the Provincial Offences Act, a proceeding in respect of an offence described in subsection (2) may be commenced on or before the expiry of two years after the date on which the offence was, or is alleged to have been, committed.

   2.  Subsection 214.1 (7) of the Act is repealed and the following substituted:

Penalty for careless driving or racing in community safety zone

   (7)  Every person who commits an offence under section 130 or section 172 in a community safety zone when it is in effect is liable, on conviction, not to the fine set out in the provision, but to a fine of not less than double the minimum fine and not more than the maximum fine set out in the provision, in addition to any other liability set out in the provision.

Commencement

   3.  This Act comes into force on the day it receives Royal Assent.

Short title

   4.  The short title of this Act is the Highway Traffic Amendment Act (Careless Driving), 2016.

Toronto: Police to Start Ticketing Motorists in Bike Lanes

Update:

Cyclist riding in bike lane on Richmond Street, east of George St.
Toronto police are cracking down on motorists who park in the city’s bike lanes as part of their “Right 2 Bike” campaign which will be in place from May 30 to June 3, 2016. If vehicles are found stopping or parking in bicycle lanes, motorists will receive tickets ranging from $60.00 to $150.00. Photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Fine for parking in a bike lane is $150

Toronto police are cracking down on motorists who park in the city’s bike lanes as part of their “Right 2 Bike” campaign.

The crackdown, which started Monday morning, runs for a week.

The police say illegal parking in bike lanes, which has long been a major headache for cyclists in the city, “deprives cyclists of their personal safety and impedes the orderly flow of bicycle traffic throughout the city.”

The news comes on the same day as “bike to work day,” which encourages commuters to ditch the car, bus or subway and travel by bike, instead.

SIgnage for Toronto bike lane on Richmond St. East, east of George Street.
More and more cyclists enjoy an expanded bike lane system. Photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The blitz is welcome to cycling advocates, who have been calling on police to do something about the scores of vehicles that park in the bike lanes every day.

“It’s unfortunate that it has to be through the stick instead of the carrot,” said cycling advocate Yvonne Bambrick. “Nobody ever wants to get a ticket for something, but it is a reminder of what you’ve done that’s wrong.”

Bambrick said a public education campaign would be better, as well as more regular, consistent enforcement.

She said the issue is so sensitive to cyclists because drivers park in bike lanes regularly, and because it threatens their safety.

She said it also sometimes leads to confrontations between motorists and cyclists.

“Cyclists feel so threatened on the roadway environment that when they’re forced into the road because someone’s parked in the one bit of bike infrastructure that they have, it’s upsetting because you can tell that they have a complete disregard for your safety, or that’s what it feels like.”

The fine for parking in a bike lane is $150, up from $60 in 2014.

The city has also named this month “Bike Month to support cyclists in the city.

 

Most Saskatchewan bike riders 12 and older never use helmets: StatsCan

Update:

Saskatchewan is the province with the highest percentage of bike riders who never use helmets: 57 per cent.

Saskatchewan is the province with the highest percentage of bike riders who never use helmets: 57 per cent. (Statistics Canada/CBC)

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Rate of non-use highest among province for those 12 and over

Of all provinces, Saskatchewan has the highest percentage of bicycle riders 12 and older who don’t wear helmets, Statistics Canada says.

Bicyle helmet lying on the road.
Bicyle helmet lying on the road.

According to a study released earlier this month, about 39 per cent of bike riders across Canada say they never wear a helmet.

However, in Saskatchewan, the rate is 57 per cent, which is highest of the 10 provinces. (The territory of Nunavut has a higher rate: 81 per cent).

hi-bikeshare-crescent valley

These young children have their helmets on, but many older bike riders in Saskatchewan never use them. (Submitted to CBC)

The statistics were collected in 2013 and 2014 as part of the Canadian Community Health Survey.

Saskatchewan’s high rate of those who never use helmets may be connected to the lack of a mandatory helmet law.

The report notes that as of 2014, bicycle helmet use was mandatory in British Columbia, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

In Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta, the legislation only applies to children under 18.

Toronto: Safety Tips for Vehicles Coming Into Contact with Cyclists

Update:

SIgnage for Toronto bike lane on Richmond St. East, east of George Street.
SIgnage for Toronto bike lane on Richmond St. East, east of George Street. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Cyclist on Avenue Road north of Bloor St W. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Cyclist riding on Avenue Rd., north of Bloor St in Toronto. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Drivers and cyclists will soon share more roadways in the city.

On Monday, the city released a report that proposed a 10-year plan to create a network of new bike lanes in Toronto. The report, which will be discussed at the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee meeting next week, suggests the addition of 525 kilometres of new bike lanes and other routes that would span across the GTA.

Last week, council voted in favour to install temporary bike lanes on a 2.4 kilometre portion of Bloor Street as part of a pilot project. The project hopes to determine the impact of bike lanes in the area for motorists, businesses and cyclists.

Bike lane on Sherbourne Ave south of Bloor.
Cyclist in bike lane, south of Bloor St on Sherbourne St. in Toronto. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Toronto Police Constable Hugh Smith said that motorists sharing the roads with cyclists should review the bylaws and safety precautions that go along with driving beside bike lanes.

Here are five refreshers on sharing the road with cyclists:

5. Yield to cyclists when turning right.

If you’re attempting to turn right and there’s a bike lane running in that direction, you are permitted to drive on the painted lane lines as long as you yield to oncoming cyclists, and only as you approach the intersection you wish to turn at.

That being said…

4. Drive in bike lanes only when turning and yielding to cyclists.

This is only permitted as you come within 45m of the corner you wish to turn at.

3. By law you need to keep a full metre between the car and the cyclist when possible.

“That’s from the edge of the handlebar to the edge of your side mirror,” Const. Hugh Smith said.

Drivers should give cyclists space and avoid blocking their path on the bike lane as much as possible.

2. Do not stop, stand or park in a bike lane.

Not only is it dangerous for cyclists, who are then forced to weave within traffic to bypass the vehicle, it could cost you.

“It’s a $150 fine (for drivers) and it’s clearly posted in yellow along cycle tracks in the city,’ Hugh said.

1. Be aware.

The number one rule for drivers to keep in mind comes from the perspective of cyclists themselves.

“Be courteous, be aware of your surroundings,” one local cyclist told CTV Toronto.

“I think if we’re just aware of what’s going on, work together, give and take — it all works out,” said another.

Hugh urges drivers to communicate and be conscious of everything around your vehicle.

“There’s room on the roads for everyone.”

Cyclist riding in bike lane on Richmond Street, east of George St.
Cyclist riding in bike lane on Richmond Street, east of George St. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

 

Montreal’s Bixi continues to pursue global domination

Update: see previous post – July 6, 2015 Ontario to Invest $4.9-million to Expand Bike Share Toronto, June 12, 2015 Toronto: Richmond, Adelaide bike lanes see tripling of cyclist traffic, April 11, 2016 City to double size of Bike Share Toronto program with new supplier, March 31, 2014 Bixie: Turns Into “Toronto Bike Share” On April 1, 2014

Bixi bikes in Ottawa, one of the first cities where Bixi expanded. The capital's bike-sharing system has since been taken over by Miami-based CycleHop.
Bixi bikes in Ottawa, one of the first cities where Bixi expanded. The capital’s bike-sharing system has since been taken over by Miami-based CycleHop.

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With 15 cities offering its bike-sharing systems, company can’t keep up with new demand

Bixi, the Montreal-spawned bike share system, continues its march across the planet.

PBSC Urban Solutions of Longueuil, Que., which makes and markets the bicycle-sharing technology, announced this week the sale of another 1,000 bikes and 120 docking stations to Toronto, which will double the city’s current fleet.

This summer Bixi-style bikes will debut in Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital. In fact, by year’s end, 50,000 Quebec-made bicycles are expected to be in service around the world.

Bixi (and its various local variations) are already present in 15 cities and two U.S. university campuses. PBSC says it’s having “serious discussions” with another dozen cities in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

To serve the unique markets of Latin America and Asia, the company developed a leaner, lighter bike, which it calls the “Fit”.

luc sabbatini
Luc Sabbatini, CEO of PBSC Urban Solutions, at the company offices in Longueuil. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada)

“The bike-sharing industry has the wind in its sails,” said Luc Sabbatini, the company’s chief executive, who doubled the number of employees to 50 in a few months.

“A city doesn’t feel cool if it doesn’t have a bike service. This makes our job easier, since we don’t have to solicit those markets. Those markets solicit us. We’re having trouble meeting the demand,” Sabbatini said.

Toronto Bike Share took over Toronto BIXI on April 1, 2014. BIXI no longer operates out of Toronto.

Where Bixi bikes roam

North America

  • Montreal and Longueuil
  • Toronto (now “Toronto Bike Share”)
  • Aspen, Colo.
  • Boston
  • Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Chicago
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Minneapolis
  • New York City
  • San Francisco
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Washington State University
  • Stony Brook University, N.Y.
  • Honolulu
  • Guadalajara, Mexico
  • Toluca, Mexico

Europe

  • London

Australia

  • Melbourne

Bixi competes with several companies in what is expected to be an $8-billion industry by 2020, according to analysts. Close to 500 cities in 50 countries have a bike-sharing system.

From bankruptcy to success

Two years ago, PBSC Urban Solutions, the small company in the Montreal suburb of Longueuil, bought Bixi’s international sales arm for $4 million. At that time, Bixi, created in 2008, was a para-municipal firm of the City of Montreal but was in financial straits: $50 million in debt, little liquidity, late deliveries, software bugs and facing several lawsuits. At the same time, the provincial government had a problem with a city selling products to other cities.

So Montreal then went from owner to client, just like any other city that buys the service. It’s now only responsible for Bixi-Montreal, which has 5,000 bikes and and enjoys a budget surplus.

Sabbatini said it’s not in a city’s DNA to run a commercial business, but tips his hat to those who launched Bixi in 2008.

“We should be proud of what was created here,” he said.

Electric bikes a possibility

electric bixi
The new electric Bixi bike is called Boost and could be on streets as early as the fall. (Thomas Gerbet/Radio-Canada)

PBSC launched last week a call for tenders for its new electric bike dubbed “Boost.” It’s a regular Bixi bike, but equipped with a motor on the rear wheel, a long-life battery and a regulator to maintain speeds without additional effort when pedalling up hills.

Interested cities will be able to carry them in the fall. Montreal is “interested,” Sabbatini said. Bérengère Theriault, a spokeswoman for Bixi-Montreal, said it must stick to the 5,000 bikes in circulation until 2019. Municipal leaders will then decide whether to adopt the enhanced bikes.

Keeping it local

Bixi bikes are produced at a factory in Saguenay, Que., which can churn out 2,000 bikes a month. But even with the high demand, Sabbatini says the goal is to keep operations in Quebec.

More cities, however, are demanding that part of the production be done locally, in their jurisdictions.

“We have to work with this, but it’s our priority to favour our Quebec providers,” Sabbatini said. “It will be a good problem to have when we reach maximum capacity, but we’ll find solutions when the time comes.”​