Driver who ran red light and killed cyclist sentenced to 2 years in jail

Update:

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The intersection was shut down after Adrian Dudzicki, 23 was hit by Aleksev. Photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Aleksey Aleksev, 23, was convicted of criminal negligence causing death earlier this year

Adrian Dudzicki, 23, was cycling to squash practice on the morning he was killed by a driver who recklessly sped through a red light at an intersection in North York.

The now 23-year-old driver, Aleksey Aleksev, was sentenced Wednesday to a jail term of two years less a day, three years of probation and a ban on driving for 15 years.

Earlier this year Superior Court Justice Gary Trotter found Aleksev guilty of dangerous driving causing death, criminal negligence causing death and, unusually, manslaughter.

However, in his Wednesday ruling, Trotter said he would be sentencing Aleksev on the count of criminal negligence causing death and staying the two other convictions since the law prohibits a person from being convicted on multiple counts for the same offence.

He stressed that his decision to sentence Aleksev for criminal negligence causing death rather than manslaughter made no difference to the sentence and does not diminish the severity of the crime or the devastation to Dudzicki’s family.

Trotter noted that this case did not involve alcohol or drugs; Aleksev claimed he was distracted by adjusting the heating or the radio shortly before the November 2013 crash.

“This case is a sad reminder of the devastation that can be caused by the egregious conduct of a sober driver,” Trotter said.

He referred to the many victim impact statements submitted by Dudzicki’s family and friends, quoting the words of his parents.

“My life will never be the same again. He was all I had,” his mother Ewa Dudzicka told the court.

“There is just emptiness,” his father Jaroslaw Dudzicki said. “There is no hope.”

After the ruling, Jaroslaw Dudzicki said he had been hoping the court process would lead to closure, but he still has many unanswered questions.

Among them, what responsibility Aleksev’s parents carry for allowing their son to continue driving recklessly. Aleksev had a history of driving infractions, including speeding tickets, court heard.

“How did he get behind the wheel?” Dudzicki said.

Man Charged with Assault of Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer

Update:

Parking tickets placed on vehicle by Toronto Parking Enforcement Officers. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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Toronto Police Cruiser. Kofi Patrong has finally won his battle to sue Toronto Police for negligence, after being shot in the leg by a member of the Galloway Boys. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Toronto Police Cruiser. Police released arrest details surrounding the alleged assault of a parking enforcement officer on Sept. 8 at 12:00 a.m. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Man, 40, charged with Assault on Parking Enforcement Officer in the area of
Forest Laneway and Doris Avenue.

Toronto Police Services Board's Parking Enforcement Officer preparing a parking ticket for a vehicle.
Toronto Parking Enforcement Officer, placing a parking ticket on vehicle. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

Toronto Police issued a news release today surrounding this alleged incident that took place within Toronto Police Services 32 division on the morning of September 8, 2016 near Yonge St. and Sheppard Ave in North York. According to police, the assault of the parking enforcement office, followed an argument.

Case #: 2016-1592107

The Toronto Police Service has arrested and charged a man for an Assault.

It is alleged that:

Parking enforcement officer placing a parking ticket on a van. Normally, enforcement officers do not ticket a vehicle, while the driver is occupying the vehicle, to prevent unnecessary confrontations. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

– on Thursday, September 8, 2016, at 12 a.m. a Toronto Police Service Parking Enforcement Officer was conducting his duties in the Forest Laneway and Doris Avenue area

– he was in the process of writing a ticket for a parked van, blocking a disabled ramp and partially blocking the fire route

– the van owner got into a verbal altercation and assaulted the Parking Enforcement Officer

Jeffrey Wingrowich, 40, of Toronto, was arrested and charged with:

1) Assault

He is scheduled to appear in court at 1000 Finch Avenue West on Thursday, October 20, 2016, courtroom 306.

Peace Bridge Crosswalk on Memorial to Address Hundreds of Jaywalkers

Update: see previous post – March 28, 2012 City Examines New Bridge and Peace Bridge Crosswalk

Pam Tzeng is excited the city is building a new crosswalk on Memorial Drive at 9th Street, just west of the Peace Bridge.
Pam Tzeng is excited the city is building a new crosswalk on Memorial Drive at 9th Street, just west of the Peace Bridge. (Andrew Brown/CBC)

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New lights are being installed west of the busy pedestrian and bike bridge

Four years after the Peace Bridge opened, the city is installing a crosswalk and lights to the west of the span, allowing access across Memorial Drive at 9th Street.

“People don’t have to worry about crossing through the road where there are cars driving,” said city spokesperson Pooja Thakore. “Having the signal will make it much safer for people driving and walking, it’s a more predictable experience.”

She said an average of 200 people jaywalk in that location every day.

Mixed reaction

Pam Tzeng, who took advantage of a break in traffic to run across Memorial Drive on Saturday, is happy to hear about the lights.

“I’m super excited, I will no longer have to jaywalk,” she said with a laugh.

Not everyone is happy about the new lights, however.

“I think we have two walkways already and we don’t need a third walkway on Memorial Drive,” said Wendy Hansen.

“If people just obeyed the traffic signals that are there, that children already learn in Kindergarten, Grade 1, 2, 3…. We don’t need it.”

Construction on the project has already begun and is expected to be finished by the end of fall.

Driverless Cars in Pittsburgh Means No Need for Uber Drivers in Future

Update:

1471527911_uber_self-driving-car
Uber’s modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicle.

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The autonomous cars, launching this summer, are custom Volvo XC90s, supervised by humans in the driver’s seat.

Near the end of 2014, Uber co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick flew to Pittsburgh on a mission: to hire dozens of the world’s experts in autonomous vehicles. The city is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department, which has produced many of the biggest names in the newly hot field. Sebastian Thrun, the creator of Google’s self-driving car project, spent seven years researching autonomous robots at CMU, and the project’s former director, Chris Urmson, was a CMU grad student.

“Travis had an idea that he wanted to do self-driving,” says John Bares, who had run CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center for 13 years before founding Carnegie Robotics, a Pittsburgh-based company that makes components for self-driving industrial robots used in mining, farming, and the military. “I turned him down three times. But the case was pretty compelling.” Bares joined Uber in January 2015 and by early 2016 had recruited hundreds of engineers, robotics experts, and even a few car mechanics to join the venture. The goal: to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.

The plan seemed audacious, even reckless. And according to most analysts, true self-driving cars are years or decades away. Kalanick begs to differ. “We are going commercial,” he says in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “This can’t just be about science.”

A self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid car is test driven in Pittsburgh. Uber said that passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars in the next several weeks. Photograph: Jared Wickerham/AP.

Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved. Google, widely regarded as the leader in the field, has been testing its fleet for several years, and Tesla Motors offers Autopilot, essentially a souped-up cruise control that drives the car on the highway. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans for an autonomous ride-sharing service. But none of these companies has yet brought a self-driving car-sharing service to market.

Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet, which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat for the time being, consists of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles outfitted with dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers. Volvo Cars has so far delivered a handful of vehicles out of a total of 100 due by the end of the year. The two companies signed a pact earlier this year to spend $300 million to develop a fully autonomous car that will be ready for the road by 2021.

The Volvo deal isn’t exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1 percent of Uber’s most recent valuation. That would imply a price of about $680 million. Otto’s current employees will also collectively receive 20 percent of any profits Uber earns from building an autonomous trucking business.

Otto has developed a kit that allows big-rig trucks to steer themselves on highways, in theory freeing up the driver to nap in the back of the cabin. The system is being tested on highways around San Francisco. Aspects of the technology will be incorporated into Uber’s robot livery cabs and will be used to start an Uber-like service for long-haul trucking in the U.S., building on the intracity delivery services, like Uber Eats, that the company already offers.

The Otto deal is a coup for Uber in its simmering battle with Google, which has been plotting its own ride-sharing service using self-driving cars. Otto’s founders were key members of Google’s operation who decamped in January, because, according to Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, “We were really excited about building something that could be launched early.”

Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year.
Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year.

Near the end of 2014, Uber co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick flew to Pittsburgh on a mission: to hire dozens of the world’s experts in autonomous vehicles. The city is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department, which has produced many of the biggest names in the newly hot field. Sebastian Thrun, the creator of Google’s self-driving car project, spent seven years researching autonomous robots at CMU, and the project’s former director, Chris Urmson, was a CMU grad student.

“Travis had an idea that he wanted to do self-driving,” says John Bares, who had run CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center for 13 years before founding Carnegie Robotics, a Pittsburgh-based company that makes components for self-driving industrial robots used in mining, farming, and the military. “I turned him down three times. But the case was pretty compelling.” Bares joined Uber in January 2015 and by early 2016 had recruited hundreds of engineers, robotics experts, and even a few car mechanics to join the venture. The goal: to replace Uber’s more than 1 million human drivers with robot drivers—as quickly as possible.

The plan seemed audacious, even reckless. And according to most analysts, true self-driving cars are years or decades away. Kalanick begs to differ. “We are going commercial,” he says in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. “This can’t just be about science.”

Starting later this month, Uber will allow customers in downtown Pittsburgh to summon self-driving cars from their phones, crossing an important milestone that no automotive or technology company has yet achieved. Google, widely regarded as the leader in the field, has been testing its fleet for several years, and Tesla Motors offers Autopilot, essentially a souped-up cruise control that drives the car on the highway. Earlier this week, Ford announced plans for an autonomous ride-sharing service. But none of these companies has yet brought a self-driving car-sharing service to market.

Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet, which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat for the time being, consists of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles outfitted with dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers. Volvo Cars has so far delivered a handful of vehicles out of a total of 100 due by the end of the year. The two companies signed a pact earlier this year to spend $300 million to develop a fully autonomous car that will be ready for the road by 2021.

Uber. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Uber. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The Volvo deal isn’t exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers. In July the company reached an agreement to buy Otto, a 91-employee driverless truck startup that was founded earlier this year and includes engineers from a number of high-profile tech companies attempting to bring driverless cars to market, including Google, Apple, and Tesla. Uber declined to disclose the terms of the arrangement, but a person familiar with the deal says that if targets are met, it would be worth 1 percent of Uber’s most recent valuation. That would imply a price of about $680 million. Otto’s current employees will also collectively receive 20 percent of any profits Uber earns from building an autonomous trucking business.

Otto has developed a kit that allows big-rig trucks to steer themselves on highways, in theory freeing up the driver to nap in the back of the cabin. The system is being tested on highways around San Francisco. Aspects of the technology will be incorporated into Uber’s robot livery cabs and will be used to start an Uber-like service for long-haul trucking in the U.S., building on the intracity delivery services, like Uber Eats, that the company already offers.

The Otto deal is a coup for Uber in its simmering battle with Google, which has been plotting its own ride-sharing service using self-driving cars. Otto’s founders were key members of Google’s operation who decamped in January, because, according to Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, “We were really excited about building something that could be launched early.”

Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year.
Volvo is expected to deliver a total of 100 specially modified SUVs to Uber by the end of the year. Source: Courtesy Uber

Levandowski, one of the original engineers on the self-driving team at Google, started Otto with Lior Ron, who served as the head of product for Google Maps for five years; Claire Delaunay, a Google robotics lead; and Don Burnette, another veteran Google engineer. Google suffered another departure earlier this month when Urmson announced that he, too, was leaving.

“The minute it was clear to us that our friends in Mountain View were going to be getting in the ride-sharing space, we needed to make sure there is an alternative [self-driving car],” says Kalanick. “Because if there is not, we’re not going to have any business.” Developing an autonomous vehicle, he adds, “is basically existential for us.” (Google also invests in Uber through Alphabet’s venture capital division, GV.)

Unlike Google and Tesla, Uber has no intention of manufacturing its own cars, Kalanick says. Instead, the company will strike deals with auto manufacturers, starting with Volvo Cars, and will develop kits for other models. The Otto deal will help; the company makes its own laser detection, or lidar, system, used in many self-driving cars. Kalanick believes that Uber can use the data collected from its app, where human drivers and riders are logging roughly 100 million miles per day, to quickly improve its self-driving mapping and navigation systems. “Nobody has set up software that can reliably drive a car safely without a human,” Kalanick says. “We are focusing on that.”

In Pittsburgh, customers will request cars the normal way, via Uber’s app, and will be paired with a driverless car at random. Trips will be free for the time being, rather than the standard local rate of $1.05 per mile. In the long run, Kalanick says, prices will fall so low that the per-mile cost of travel, even for long trips in rural areas, will be cheaper in a driverless Uber than in a private car. “That could be seen as a threat,” says Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson. “We see it as an opportunity.”

Although Kalanick and other self-driving car advocates say the vehicles will ultimately save lives, they face harsh scrutiny for now. In July a driver using Tesla’s Autopilot service died after colliding with a tractor-trailer, apparently because both the driver and the car’s computers didn’t see it. (The crash is currently being investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.) Google has seen a handful of accidents, but they’ve been less severe, in part because it limits its prototype cars to 25 miles per hour. Uber’s cars haven’t had any fender benders since they began road-testing in Pittsburgh in May, but at some point something will go wrong, according to Raffi Krikorian, the company’s engineering director. “We’re interacting with reality every day,” he says. “It’s coming.”

For now, Uber’s test cars travel with safety drivers, as common sense and the law dictate. These professionally trained engineers sit with their fingertips on the wheel, ready to take control if the car encounters an unexpected obstacle. A co-pilot, in the front passenger seat, takes notes on a laptop, and everything that happens is recorded by cameras inside and outside the car so that any glitches can be ironed out. Each car is also equipped with a tablet computer in the back seat, designed to tell riders that they’re in an autonomous car and to explain what’s happening. “The goal is to wean us off of having drivers in the car, so we don’t want the public talking to our safety drivers,” Krikorian says.

On a recent weekday test drive, the safety drivers were still an essential part of the experience, as Uber’s autonomous car briefly turned un-autonomous, while crossing the Allegheny River. A chime sounded, a signal to the driver to take the wheel. A second ding a few seconds later indicated that the car was back under computer control. “Bridges are really hard,” Krikorian says. “And there are like 500 bridges in Pittsburgh.”

Bridges are hard in part because of the way that Uber’s system works. Over the past year and a half, the company has been creating extremely detailed maps that include not just roads and lane markings, but also buildings, potholes, parked cars, fire hydrants, traffic lights, trees, and anything else on Pittsburgh’s streets. As the car moves, it collects data, and then using a large, liquid-cooled computer in the trunk, it compares what it sees with the preexisting maps to identify (and avoid) pedestrians, cyclists, stray dogs, and anything else. Bridges, unlike normal streets, offer few environmental cues—there are no buildings, for instance—making it hard for the car to figure out exactly where it is. Uber cars have Global Positioning System sensors, but those are only accurate within about 10 feet; Uber’s systems strive for accuracy down to the inch.

When the Otto acquisition closes, likely this month, Otto co-founder Levandowski will assume leadership of Uber’s driverless car operation, while continuing to oversee his company’s robotic trucking business. The plan is to open two additional Uber R&D centers, one in the Otto office, a cavernous garage in San Francisco’s Soma neighborhood, a second in Palo Alto. “I feel like we’re brothers from another mother,” Kalanick says of Levandowski.

Uber started in San Francisco, California, USA. Uber was founded as "UberCab" by Travis Kalanick (current CEO) and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. In October 2015 it was said that Uber's worth was $51 Billion, however Aswath Damodaran, professor at NYU Stern School of Business and a valuation expert, values the ride-hailing company at $23.4 billion, less than half its current sticker. Uber is busy in the courts and fighting off growing competition.
Uber started in San Francisco, California, USA. Uber was founded as “UberCab” by Travis Kalanick (current CEO) and Garrett Camp in 2009 and the app was released the following June. Beginning in 2012, Uber expanded internationally. In 2014, it experimented with carpooling features and made other updates. In October 2015 it was said that Uber’s worth was $51 Billion, however Aswath Damodaran, professor at NYU Stern School of Business and a valuation expert, values the ride-hailing company at $23.4 billion, less than half its current sticker. Uber is busy in the courts and fighting off growing competition. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The two men first met at the TED conference in 2012, when Levandowski was showing off an early version of Google’s self-driving car. Kalanick offered to buy 20 of the prototypes on the spot—“It seemed like the obvious next step,” he says with a laugh—before Levandowski broke the bad news to him. The cars were running on a loop in a closed course with no pedestrians; they wouldn’t be safe outside the TED parking lot. “It was like a roller coaster with no track,” Levandowski explains. “If you were to step in front of the vehicle, it would have just run you over.”

Kalanick began courting Levandowski this spring, broaching the possibility of an acquisition during a series of 10-mile night walks from the Soma neighborhood where Uber is also headquartered to the Golden Gate Bridge. The two men would leave their offices separately—to avoid being seen by employees, the press, or competitors. They’d grab takeout food, then rendezvous near the city’s Ferry Building. Levandowski says he saw a union as a way to bring the company’s trucks to market faster.

For his part, Kalanick sees it as a way to further corner the market for autonomous driving engineers. “If Uber wants to catch up to Google and be the leader in autonomy, we have to have the best minds,” he says, and then clarifies: “We have to have all the great minds.”

Toronto grants Uber first-ever Canadian licence to operate

Update: see previous post – April 6, 2016 Toronto: To Announce New Regulations for Taxi’s & UberX

Uber. The City of Toronto has issued a licence to Uber as the first private transportation company to operate in the city. photo by fightyourtickets.ca
Uber. The City of Toronto has issued a licence to Uber as the first private transportation company to operate in the city. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

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A group of taxi drivers says it will demonstrate starting around 7 a.m. Wednesday at the city’s licensing office at the East York Civic Centre.

A planned protest by a group of taxi workers Wednesday will proceed despite a late-afternoon announcement that the city has now licensed Uber as the first private transportation company in Toronto under new regulations.

It’s the first time that Uber has been issued a vehicle-for-hire licence in Canada, as North American cities continue to grapple with how to manage the disruptive technology that has threatened the business of traditional taxi companies.

Licensing for the app-based ride-hailing service, which was made official Tuesday afternoon, comes after a protracted council battle that saw a new bylaw passed in May. That bylaw, which dictates a new licensing regime that incorporates companies like Uber, came into force July 15.

“Within a month of the bylaw taking effect we have been successful in process change, technology change and we’ve now issued the license to Uber and we’re going forward from here,” the city’s executive director for licensing, Tracey Cook, told reporters at city hall Tuesday.

Row of taxis lined up at a stop sign on Edward St. at Yonge St. in Toronto. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The city will now screen UberX drivers — who use their personal cars to ferry passengers at fares cheaper than those of traditional taxis — and provide them with a separate private transportation company driver licence.

“The goal at this point is to have those drivers licensed by the end of September, if not sooner,” Cook said.

But the taxi industry considered July 15 a deadline and says delays in implementing new licences has meant UberX drivers have continued to be on the roads unlawfully for a month.

City Taxi’s Paul Sekhon, part of United Taxi Workers Association of the GTA which organized the protest, told the Star they’re going ahead with their plans.

The group plans to demonstrate starting around 7 a.m. on Wednesday at the city’s licensing office at the East York Civic Centre on Coxwell Ave.

Toronto police warn that a group of cab drivers has been swiping riders' bank cards as they pay — and then driving straight to ATM machines to empty bank accounts before victims even realize what's happened. Dozens of cab riders have been victimized across the city in recent weeks and the crimes are continuing daily, the lead investigator in the case said Friday.
taxis waiting at a taxi stand. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

“We’re still going ahead with the protest 100 per cent,” Sekhon said. “You’re putting 10,000 lives in jeopardy over here because you don’t want to do it by the schedule . . . There’s no law and order for these people.”

Cook said her staff have been working “diligently” behind-the-scenes to implement the new system, which will see the city review some 12,000 applications for driver’s licences from Uber alone — which includes a criminal background check and insurance for at least $2 million in liabilities. There are currently no other companies licensed under the new rules.

Toronto Taxi's lined up at hotel taxi stand. Toronto politicians and taxi industry spokespeople hope that a reduced fare will make hiring a taxi an easier option for passengers.
Row of taxis at a cab stand at a downtown Toronto hotel. photo by fightyourtickets.ca

The city will enforce the new rules, Cook said, with plans to hire 12 new members of the enforcement team.

She denied there have been delays, with the rollout of changes under the new rules starting July 15.

Cook said Uber has co-operated with new rules, including removing vehicles from their platform that are more than seven years old. “They’ve seen a reduction of about 30 per cent of their driver base,” Cook said.

Will the new regulations allow for UberX vehicles to share the Toronto HOV lanes with the T.T.C. and Taxis? photo by fightyourtickets.ca

She said other aspects of the bylaw, which relaxes rules for the taxi industry, have already been implemented, including taxis being allowed to set cheaper fares through their own mobile apps.

Not everyone within the often fractured taxi industry agrees with the demonstration planned for Wednesday.

The Toronto Taxi Alliance, which represents brokerages like Beck Taxi, has said while they share the drivers’ frustration about Uber, any disruption upsets Torontonians — the people they are trying to maintain as passengers.

“I have a lot of respect for the taxi industry. They’re upset, it’s a period if transformation,” Cook said Tuesday. “They have a right to do what it is they want to do. It’s unfortunate. I would really rather see the taxi cab industry work on delivering quality customer service to the people that use their service instead of protesting.”