As the warmer weather encourages a greater number of cyclists to hit Toronto’s streets, it prompts the question: Is enough being done to decrease the risk of collisions.
After a 2011 accident with a truck left a 38-year-old, pregnant Toronto cyclist dead, calls were made for truck side guards. The safety devices are designed to prevent pedestrians and cyclists from being trapped underneath the rear wheels of trucks.
NDP MP Oliva Chow is currently calling on the federal government to make side guards mandatory in Canada.
A 1998 City of Toronto report recommended making such guards mandatory and an Ontario coroner’s report released in June, 2012 called for the same.
“Every one of these tragic deaths was preventable,” said study team leader Dan Cass, Ontario’s deputy chief coroner, in the report of the 129 cyclists killed in the province between January 2006 and December 2010.
Cass found only 35 of the 129 cyclists killed were wearing helmets. In addition to side guards, he recommended that helmets should become mandatory.
In Ontario, only cyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear helmets.
At the time of the release of the report, Transportation Minister Bob Chiarelli said the provincial government would consider future changes. Transport Canada said its research did not indicate that side guards would be effective in Canada.
Also recommended in the coroner’s report were: Requiring drivers to give cyclists a one-metre berth when passing; reducing speed limits; creating more bike lanes; and incorporating cycling safety into the public school curriculum.