Better Police Enforcement Needed

by

The case of a Toronto bicyclist who was killed when a motorist opened her car’s door in front of him, highlights the inequitable way in which police routinely treat vehicle collisions. And it also shines a light on the need for local governments to allow municipal advisory groups representing pedestrians and bicyclists.

The 57-y.o. father was cycling along Toronto’s Eglinton Avenue on Thursday afternoon when “the door to a parked Volvo opened in front of him…the victim struck the door and fell to the roadway, into the path of an eastbound truck…suffered massive internal injuries…died about four hours later in hospital.” 01

Toronto police admit that ‘being doored’ is a common occurence and that it’s a problem. 02

Nevertheless, Toronto police Sgt. Burrows is reported to have said that even if the motorist looked before opening the door, “it’d be very hard to label that as negligent.” 01

Excuse me?

Sources:
01. 2008/05/24 – National Post: Call to charge driver over bicycle death
02. 2008/05/24 – Globe & Mail: Cyclist hits car door, is killed by passing truck

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5 Responses to “Better Police Enforcement Needed”

  1. josh Says:

    Two issues are covered in this comment: the bicyclist & the pedestrian.

    Cyclist issue:

    “Accordingly, cyclists should ride one meter from the curb or close to the right hand edge of the road when there is no curb, unless they are turning left, going faster than other vehicles or if the lane is too narrow to share.” [http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling/section3.0.shtml]

    On most London roads you’ll find me in the left tire track, taking up the lane. I will be seen.

    For any drivers who read this: Ontario does not allow lane splitting. Go to California for that. What is allowed is lane sharing. The difference between the two means that in Ontario when you wish to pass cyclists and other road users, you must both give us a comfortable space buffer and not drive along the line of the left-handed side of the lane. You must change lanes if the lane is so narrow that you would be othewise forced to drive along the left-line of the lane.

    Pedestrian issue:

    “Duty of pedestrian or person in wheelchair

    (4) No pedestrian or person in a wheelchair shall leave the curb or other place of safety at a pedestrian crossover and walk, run or move the wheelchair into the path of a vehicle or street car that is so close that it is impracticable for the driver of the vehicle or street car to yield the right of way. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 140 (4).”
    [http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h08_e.htm#BK206]

    FYI: A a “pedestrian crossover” must be marked in some way:

    “pedestrian crossover” means any portion of a roadway, designated by by-law of a municipality, at an intersection or elsewhere, distinctly indicated for pedestrian crossing by signs on the highway and lines or other markings on the surface of the roadway as prescribed by the regulations; (“passage pour piétons”)

    Contrast the above with the following:

    “Yielding to pedestrians

    (7) When under this section a driver is permitted to proceed, the driver shall yield the right of way to pedestrians lawfully within a crosswalk. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (7).”

    Observe how part of section 144 explicitly states when you are “under this section” as a driver. It appears to apply for when “Traffic control signals and pedestrian control signals” are present, which is its descriptive header. But headers are not part of the statute.

    If s.144(7) doesn’t apply at 4-way stops sign intersections which have no pedestrian crossing lines or the road or signs, then how would you ever gain the right of way to walk across the street to your neighbour?

    (Here’s how this interpretation makes sense: Have s.144(7) apply generally and then, when a crossing is marked, apply a higher standard to expect everyone to obey the markings.)

  2. josh Says:

    For kin who wish to sue (on their own or in the name of the deceased’s estate):

    “193. (1) When loss or damage is sustained by any person by reason of a motor vehicle on a highway, the onus of proof that the loss or damage did not arise through the negligence or improper conduct of the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle is upon the owner, driver, lessee or operator of the motor vehicle. 2005, c. 31, Sched. 10, s. 3.”

    http://canlii.org/on/laws/sta/h-8/20080515/whole.html#BK279
    or
    http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90h08_e.htm#BK279

  3. fowgre Says:

    I very much appreciate the effort that went into that post, Josh.

    I’ve never understood why bicyclists should be expected to ride close to the curb if they’re considered to be vehicles. If that’s the case, they ought to have the same right to take up an entire lane. Moreover, simply from a common-sense point of view, if you leave extra room in a lane by staying close to the curb, you just know that there are lots of drivers who will take that as an invitation to occupy that lane with you. And from a safety standpoint, it’s entirely unreasonable to expect cyclists to have to suffer the angst that such danger poses.

    With respect to your pedestrian-related comments, and the one about lawsuits, have a look for the email which I sent you last night.

  4. KevBo Says:

    With respect to the MTO webpage [http://www.mto.gov.on.ca/english/pubs/cycling/section3.0.shtml] I ride in the middle of the lane, no matter what my speed, my reasoning and justification:

    “Accordingly, cyclists should ride one meter from the curb or close to the right hand edge of the road when there is no curb, unless they are turning left, going faster than other vehicles or if the lane is too narrow to share.”

    The lane is too narrow to share. Unless there is a designated biking lane any city street is too narrow to share in my opinion, taking into consideration the size of some vehicles and more importantly the poor driving skills of the majority of the population out there.

  5. fowgre Says:

    Check THIS LINK out … ouch!

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