Reports, Studies and Plans

A report on cycling fatalities in Toronto 1986 - 1998

Recommendations for reducing cycling injuries and death

Coroner iconPrepared by:

W. J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Coroner for Toronto
July 1, 1998

During the summer of 1996, two cycling-related fatalities attracted considerable public attention. On July 22, 1996, Ms. Erin Krauser died at the intersection of Queen and Bathurst Streets. On July 31, 1996, Ms. Martha Kennedy died at the intersection of Cherry and Commissioners Streets. Both deaths involved cyclists coming in contact with the rear right wheels of large trucks.

A press conference was held at Toronto City Hall on August 2, 1996, by Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall and the Toronto City Cycling Committee. Representatives from Toronto Police Service, trucking associations, cycling planners and the regional coroner's office took part. It was decided that a cooperative effort would be required to examine the issues affecting cycling safety in the city.

The purpose of this report is to review cycling fatalities that have occurred within the former Metropolitan Toronto Region (now the City of Toronto) over an 11 year period, with a view to drawing some conclusions and making recommendations aimed at enhancing cyclists' safety in the city for the future. It is hoped that the recommendations presented with this report will go some distance towards achieving that goal.

Ad-hoc committee and review process
An ad-hoc committee was formed to review cycling-related fatalities that had occurred over a 11 year period within Toronto between January 1, 1986 and December 31, 1996. (The last year for which complete statistics are available). The committee consisted of representatives of a number of organizations including:

  • Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists
  • City of Toronto:
    • Works and Emergency Services
    • Urban Planning and Development
    • Community Services (Public Health)
    • City Council
    • Cycling Committee
    • Toronto Police Service, Traffic Services
    • Toronto Police Service, Training and Education, Police Vehicles, Operations
    • Toronto Transit Commission
  • Independent Bicycle Dealers Association
  • Insurance Industries representatives
  • Metropolitan Toronto Injury Prevention Coalition
  • Ontario Cycling Association
  • Ontario Ministry of Transportation
  • Ontario Trauma Registry
  • Ontario Trucking Association
  • Truck Training School Association 

It should be noted that these committee members were brought together because of their knowledge and experience related to cycling, cycling collisions and cycling injuries, so that their views and experiences could be shared. They did not necessarily represent the positions of their respective committees, agencies or associations.

A review of all documented cyclists' injuries, as well as fatalities was initially undertaken by the committee. Files from the Office of the Chief Coroner included 72 cycling-related deaths during the sample time period. A number of those deaths resulted from circumstances occurring outside Metropolitan Toronto, where the victims had been transferred to Toronto tertiary care hospitals for medical care. These deaths were eliminated from the study as the precipitating event had occurred outside the city boundaries, reducing the total number of cycling-related deaths within the city to 47. Cycling fatalities that involved cyclist-pedestrian crashes, or cyclist alone not involving a collision with a motor vehicle were further eliminated, as many of these were off-road situations. The resulting final study group totaled 38 fatalities during that 11 year period. Although this sample size was small, similarities in patterns of collisions where fatalities had occurred versus where only injury was encountered gave the committee a certain comfort level in reviewing the deaths and being able to draw conclusions from them.

In addition to input from the Committee members, a literature search was also used. Many excellent studies have been conducted in the past into the issues of bicycle usage, safety, collisions and injuries. It was not the intent of the Committee, nor did it have the resources, to attempt to replicate these studies. Nor was the literature review exhaustive. The reader is referred to the Bibliography/References section of this report for further reading.

After careful analysis and discussion, issues arose which led to several recommendations to improve cycle safety both in Toronto and the Province of Ontario at large.

Prepared by:

W. J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Coroner for Toronto

Summary of findings

Between January 1, 1986, and December 31, 1996, there were approximately 13,475 collisions recorded between motor vehicles and cyclists in the former Metropolitan Toronto. Thirty eight of these collisions resulted in cyclist's fatalities.

Summary chart - cyclist fatalities involving collisions with motor vehicles

An analysis of the types of vehicles involved in non-fatal collisions between motor vehicles and cyclists indicated that approximately 92 per cent involved Class G vehicles, which include cars, small vans, pick-up trucks, etc. Only eight per cent of non-fatal collisions involved larger vehicles, including open trucks, public transit (TTC) vehicles, emergency vehicles, and tractor trailer vehicles.

Motor vehicle types involved in non fatal cyclist collisions by license class

A different picture emerged when an analysis of vehicle type by licensed class was applied to the 38 cyclist fatalities. While Class G vehicles still accounted for the majority of fatal collisions, large vehicles were involved in 37 per cent of collisions resulting in cyclist fatalities (compared with only eight per cent of collisions resulting in cyclist injuries). This difference must be attributed to an increased likelihood of cyclist fatality in collisions with large vehicles. For example, there was one cyclist fatality for every 125 non-fatal collisions involving large vehicles (Class A, B, C, D and M) as opposed to one cyclist fatality for every 488 non-fatal collisions involving Class G motor vehicles. Thus, it appears that a cyclist's collision with a large vehicle is approximately four times more likely to result in cyclist fatality than a cyclist's collision with a Class G vehicle.

Specifically, 24 fatalities involved Class G vehicles, while 14 fatalities involved larger vehicles. In this group were eight fatalities involving Class D motor vehicles (consisting of large trucks, dump trucks, cement mixers, flat bed trucks and large vans, etc.), three fatalities involving Class A tractor trailers, two fatalities involving Class C municipal transit and inter-city buses, and one fatality involving a school bus.

In analyzing the type of injuries resulting in deaths, it was noted that 21 of the 38 victims (55 per cent) died as a result of head injuries. Another 14 of the 38 victims died of multiple injuries. Three victims died of other causes or complications arising from injuries sustained in their collision.

Noting that helmet use has only become popular within recent years, three victims were recorded to be wearing helmets, while 35 victims were recorded to be not wearing helmets. Considering that slightly more than one half of the fatalities in this review were due to head injuries, it is clear that helmet usage must be better recorded in future if there is to be a determination of their effectiveness. It is unclear in these cases whether helmets might have prevented fatal injuries.

An analysis of the collisions revealed the following impact types:

The small size of the sample does not allow for drawing of firm conclusions about the relationship between fatal motor vehicle-cyclist collisions and the number of lanes on a roadway. Twenty-seven fatal collisions occurred on four lane roadways, six fatal collisions on six lane roadways, four fatal collisions on two lane roadways, and one fatal collision occurred in a parking lot driveway. This suggests that arterial roads, with higher traffic volumes and speeds, may be a factor. Further investigation is needed to correlate the number of lanes, exposure to high traffic volumes, and speed of travel, to the risk of cyclist injury and fatality.

In reviewing the age of victims, the majority of fatalities were over the minimum age where they could obtain a motor vehicle driver permit. This implies that many would have the potential to have had some experience of the rules of the road or possibly even some level of formal training in that regard. Eight cyclists were 15 years of age or less. This may emphasize that currently available educational materials and efforts may not have reached sufficient numbers of road users to be effective.

More fatal collisions occurred in the former City of Toronto than in any of the other cities of Metropolitan Toronto prior to amalgamation. A breakdown included 14 fatalities in the City of Toronto, 10 fatalities in the City of Scarborough, seven fatalities in the City of North York, six fatalities in the City of Etobicoke, and one fatality in the City of York.

Fatal collisions were distributed fairly evenly on a weekday basis, but fewer fatal collisions occurred on Sundays. Peak frequencies of fatal collisions occurred in mid-day and afternoon rush hour times. The majority of collisions, 30 in total, occurred during daylight conditions with eight collisions occurring during dark conditions.

About eight per cent of collisions resulting in personal injury in Toronto involve cyclist injuries. In the former City of Toronto, this figure is nearly 14 per cent. Much less than 14 per cent of all travel in the former City is by bicycle, and less than eight per cent of all travel is by bicycle in the new Toronto. This data therefore suggests that there is a disproportionate representation of bicycles in traffic collisions relative to their numbers on the road, highlighting the need for appropriate programs designed to reduce cycling-related injuries.

While the small number of cases studied in this report make conclusions hard to determine, they did allow the review committee to make strong inferences, based on their experience and expertise, about the kinds of remedies that would be effective in reducing cycling fatalities. The analysis of the injury data available further supported these inferences. The findings in this study do appear to be consistent with those of studies in other jurisdictions.

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In 1975, Toronto City Council adopted the following policy statement:

"Council recognizes that the bicycle, as an integral and efficient form of transportation and as a means of recreation, can make a significant contribution to the quality of city life; therefore, it is the policy of council to implement programs that will promote and facilitate greater and safer use of the bicycle."

As a result of an integrated effort on the part of the City of Toronto, The Toronto City Cycling Committee, and in conjunction with a variety of cycling organizations, an impressive blend of programs, ridership and natural amenities came together to enable Toronto to receive the 1995 Bicycling Magazine Award, "Best City for Cycling in North America".

In response to the two cycling related fatalities in July 1996, the City of Toronto Council increased funding within its 1997 budget to accelerate the development of both on-street and off-street bicycle routes and to expand its bicycle safety program.

This report makes recommendations to continue to move forward and to enhance safe bicycle usage in the future. A multi-faceted approach is imperative to enhancing bicycle safety in Toronto, including:

  • Better bicycle collision data collection and analysis;
  • Education programs and enforcement for both motorists and cyclists;
  • A review of the Highway Traffic Act sections affecting bicycles;
  • Roadway engineering design improvements for bicycles; and
  • Investigation of design modifications for large vehicles to reduce injury severity.

Bicycle collision reporting and the development of an adequate database for intelligent analysis must be recognized as important foundations. The expertise exists at various levels of government and within the community to analyze appropriate data, but unfortunately the mechanisms to obtain this information do not yet appear to be in place.

For cyclists, education courses focusing on skill development and road regulations must be made widely accessible both in the community and in schools. Motor vehicle driver education courses on the other hand, including those for operators of large vehicles and fleets, must include more information and education on the issue of sharing the road with cyclists and on respecting the rights of the cyclists on the roadway. Policing agencies should use education and enforcement to encourage all cyclists and motor vehicle drivers to better understand and follow the regulations of the Highway Traffic Act.

For cycling education programs to be more effective, the rules of the road, as specified in the Highway Traffic Act must be clarified to make them more consistent with educational and enforcement priorities aimed at collision reduction.

Many articles have been published expounding the virtues of bicycle safety helmets in prevention of both significant head injuries and death. Several reports refute these claims and suggest that in jurisdictions where cycling helmet use has been legislated, there has not been a significant reduction in either injury or fatalities, and that bicycle use has declined because of the requirement to wear a helmet. Both sides would agree that helmets are an asset, but not a panacea. The helmet does nothing to prevent a collision.

Expanding the existing network of on-street bicycle routes and off-street trails is widely recognized as an important measure to enhance safety for cyclists. The on-street component of this network includes a range of design options which respond to the wide range of needs and abilities of cyclists and the different types of roadways. These design options include: bicycle lanes which clearly define a separate space for cyclists, signed bicycle routes which identify alternative routes for cyclists typically on lightly traveled local streets, and wide curb lanes on arterial roads which make it possible for cyclists and motorists to share the lane.

In addition to enhancing bicycle safety on designated routes, engineering design improvements need to be considered on all roads used by cyclists. Site specific improvements in road design in particularly hazardous locations, for example, could reduce the frequency of motor vehicle/cycle collisions, with resultant decreases in injury and potential fatalities.

Finally, design modifications to large trucks, similar to those required in Europe, which improve visibility and deflect cyclists and pedestrians away from rear wheels, may have the potential to substantially reduce injury and death. Studies to date are inconclusive, but further investigation by appropriate agencies is warranted.

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Prepared by:

W. J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Coroner for Toronto

The following recommendations have been made with a view to improving bicycle safety and reducing injury and death. Although several are specific to the City of Toronto, many have broader potential application. Because of the diverse backgrounds and experience levels of the committe participants, opinions on these recommendations were variable. Some were strongly supported by all members, while other recommendations received limited support. Rather than totally reject the latter group, they have been included in this report in the hope that they may provoke meaningful and useful discussion in another forum at a later date. They are not ranked in any particular order of importance.

A. Bicycle collision reporting

Recommendation #1

That policing agencies be requested to complete the Motor Vehicle Accident Report form in non-HTA reportable collisions.


Currently a bicycle collision is only reportable if a motor vehicle is involved. Using the accident report form for recording bicycle collisions which do not involve a motor vehicle will contribute to a more consistent, accurate recording and analysis of bicycle collisions resulting in injury. Development of a reporting system that captures all bicycle mishaps, both on-road and off, will be of much greater assistance in planning more effective prevention strategies for the future.

This recommendation will require the agreement of the Ministries of Transportation, Solicitor General and Correctional Services, and Attorney General, in co-operation with the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, as there may be significant resource implications.

Recommendation #2

That Police Officers, cyclists, and drivers be reminded that reportable bicycle collisions may be reported at any Police station. Cyclists should not be requested to report their collisions at a Collision Reporting Centre (CRC).


To facilitate the process of reporting bicycle collisions, education will be required for Police Officers, cyclists and drivers about the collision reporting procedure for cyclists. In the interest of collecting reliable data for cycling collisions it is important that bicycle collisions be easily reportable. Since CRC's were created to assist motorists in reporting motor vehicle collisions, their remote locations are usually not conducive to reporting of bicycle collisions. The information collected should be applicable across the entire Province.

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B. Collision data collection

Recommendation #3

That the following information be captured and coded by all Police Services in the major urban areas of Ontario:

  • type of involved person (regardless of injury)
  • injury of involved person (eg. minimal, major, fatal)
  • traffic control device (eg. stop sign, traffic signal)
  • road surface condition (eg. dry, wet, ice)
  • safety equipment (eg. helmet, lap belt only)
  • location coordinate (eg. intersection, non-intersection)
  • driver/pedestrian condition (eg. fatigue, ability impaired - over 80 mg.)

Coding this information means this data will be available in a computerized database for future analysis. When a collision occurs, the Police have a legal obligation to report certain information, but it is not necessarily coded within computerized accident management systems. Only the coded information is easily accessible for analysis.

Many of the problems identified in this Coroner's Review may relate to large urban centres, such as the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and not to the province as a whole. Establishment of databases designed to capture bicycle related incidents in these urban centres, would facilitate the development of locally focused solutions.

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C. Expert review of bicycle collisions and collision data

Recommendation #4

That the City of Toronto, with the assistance of the Ontario Trauma Registry, the Ministry of Transportation and other interested parties, initiate a comprehensive study of bicycle usage and collisions within the City. The study would include:

  • probable causes of collisions (behavioural, geometric design, road condition, etc.)
  • high frequency collision locations
  • bicycle collision/injury trends
  • physical infrastructure improvements to prevent collisions
  • (site specific or systemic changes)
  • educational messages for drivers, cyclists and the media
  • any other relevant issues

The present study has generated more questions than answers, by focusing primarily on fatalities (which represent only a small fraction of all collisions involving cyclists). A new study, coordinated by the City of Toronto, the main beneficiary of such work, would attempt to cross-reference police reports with hospital emergency room and ambulance reports, to better understand how and where bicycle collisions happen, to identify collision reduction measures and to determine collision reporting rates. Bicycle traffic counts should also be undertaken and analyzed to quantify exposure rates (the relative risk of cycling on different types of facility) and to help put trends in collision reports in context with trends in bicycle use.

The City already includes staff in most key areas (transportation, planning, public health, ambulance and police) and the assistance of a number of other parties would ensure that all key stakeholders are involved.

Recommendation #5

That a multi-disciplinary team involving municipal staff, including traffic engineering, bicycle facility planning and bicycle safety training staff, and police and ambulance personnel be established to conduct an annual review of all cycling fatalities in the City of Toronto as well as bicycle collision data.

A cooperative approach to bicycle collision review and analysis could result in more effective preventative measures for reducing bicycle collisions within the city. This will require interaction between Police Officers and a wide variety of other municipal staff.

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D. Collision prevention - education

Recommendation #6

That the City of Toronto identify on-going funding sources to expand cycling collision/injury prevention programs. This could include, but not be limited to:

  • more widespread availability of CAN-BIKE Training for adults and youth;
  • publishing regular road safety reports that highlight common collision types and ways to prevent them; and
  • production of a bicycle safety video for use in driver training
  • programs, police training programs, in schools and other programs.


To ensure future cooperation between all road users, school age children have been identified as an essential target learning group. The Canadian Cycling Association has several educational programs available to this age group. It is imperative that agencies responsible for public education endorse the use of recognized educational programs.

One deficiency of adult bicycle education programs is the lack of availability of a Canadian content bicycle video to accompany existing training. To complement all road safety programs a priority should be placed on the production of a video for training purposes with appropriate Canadian content.

Recommendation #7

That the Ontario Ministries of Transportation and Health, in cooperation with local municipalities, police forces and cycling groups, develop and fund programs that would increase awareness of Ontario's bicycle helmet law and encourage the use of helmets by all ages.


Bill 124 was adopted by the legislature and came into effect on October 1, 1995, requiring cyclists under the age of 18 years to wear helmets. To date, it appears that helmet use promotion has been left to local communities. Provincial funding and coordination would greatly enhance efforts to increase compliance with the provincial helmet law and encourage helmet use.

Adults are role models for young people and the age limit of mandatory helmet use sends a mixed message. Numerous articles have been published in recent years supporting the effectiveness of bicycle safety helmets. Control studies have provided convincing evidence that riders not wearing helmets are between two and three times as likely as a helmeted rider to suffer a head injury in a crash. Other reports conclude that up to 80 per cent of deaths among bicyclists are due to severe head injury. To be effective, however, bicycle helmets must be worn properly with the proper retention device to prevent them from coming off during a crash.

It must be recognized, however, that helmet use is not a panacea for drastically reducing cycling related fatalities or serious head injuries. Stricter bicycle helmet legislation and mass helmet usage in other countries (U.S.A., Australia, and New Zealand) have failed to produce any statistically significant reduction in the rates of fatalities and head injuries, despite optimistic projections. In addition, compulsory helmet use may result in reduced bicycle usage.

Recommendation #8

That additional cycling safety information be included in the Province of Ontario's Official Bus Handbook and Official Truck Handbook when these handbooks are reprinted.


The new Official Driver's Handbook (1995) includes more cycling content than the previous edition, in response to a recommendation arising out of a 1991 inquest. The two handbooks noted above have limited reference to specific strategies for operators of these large vehicles directed towards sharing the road with bicycles. In contrast, the Ministry of Transportation Cycling Skills booklet includes two pages of text and diagrams providing advice for cyclists on dealing with buses, trucks and streetcars.

Awareness and training for eliminating collisions must be the starting point. Training has to establish the attitude that promotes safe interaction between motorists and cyclists. Organizations which provide defensive driving courses should increase their emphasis on vehicle/bicycle collisions. As an example, the current Defensive Driver's Manual (1996) from the Canada Safety Council has less than one page in its 88 page manual dedicated to this issue. Those organizations which provide training and material for all drivers should be encouraged to increase the information provided regarding sharing of the road with cyclists.

Recommendation #9

That the Ontario Ministry of Transportation establish or enhance criteria for cycling content to be included in driver training and driver instructor training programs.


Incorporating CAN-BIKE training information into driver training programs would provide information that is not currently available to new drivers. MTO's Road Worthy, Ontario's standard in driver education and training, has references to bicycles on pages 13, 34, 64, 70-72. These references deal with bicycles as alternatives to cars, courtesy toward bicyclists, dealing with bicycles at night or in inclement weather, intersection behaviour, passing procedures, vehicle doors and bicycles, etc. A future update of this text should review these references to ensure consistency of content with existing bicycle training programs.

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E. Collision prevention - enforcement

Recommendation #10

That the Toronto Police Service, in partnership with the municipal Cycling Committee, expand targeted enforcement and education efforts towards specific behaviours (cyclists and drivers) which cause collisions, and use the media to raise awareness of these behaviours.


Programs such as the Cycling Ambassadors Program, which includes S.P.A.C.E. (Safety, Prevention, Awareness, Courtesy, Enforcement) and O.A.S.I.S. (Off-road Awareness, Safety, Information, Stop) have been, and continue to be effective programs aimed at education and enforcement. Continued support of existing programs and expansion of similar programs on a provincial scale is an essential strategy in promoting awareness in these areas.

Recommendation #11

That the concept of diversion programs, in lieu of paying a fine for cycling-related traffic infractions in the City of Toronto, be given further study and consideration.


A CAN-BIKE training course, for example, would be a proactive and effective approach to increasing skill and knowledge of road users and to changing attitudes towards safety. Toronto Police and the Cycling Committee could develop a strategy based on cost recovery to implement this program.

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F. Legislative review

Recommendation #12

That the Ministry of Transportation establish an expert review process (involving provincial and municipal representatives, cycling organizations and police) to recommend changes to the Provincial Highway Traffic Act and Municipal By-Laws so that they are more consistent and understandable with respect to cycling and cyclists and therefore easier to promote and enforce.


Some Ontario Highway Traffic Act sections affecting cyclists are not consistent with educational and enforcement priorities for reducing collisions. Specific sections of the H.T.A. are submitted for consideration along with recommended changes that would address concerns and questions specific to the needs of cyclists, and are listed in Appendix "B".

Ontario's Highway Traffic act presently does little to clarify how bicycles interact with other traffic on our roads. The concept of motorized vehicles yielding to non-motorized vehicles, who in turn must yield to pedestrians seems to be a common sense rule which should be accepted by all road users. Entrenching this principle in the HTA would clarify the situation, and likely significantly reduce risk of injury and death.

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G. Road design/facilities

Recommendation #13

That The City of Toronto identify potentially dangerous locations for cyclists including high frequency accident locations and cyclist-identified problem areas where site specific improvements can be made to prevent bicycle collisions.


Making spot improvements at locations that are known to be hazardous to cyclists, identified from accident data and by cyclists themselves, will enhance cyclists' safety. The City of Toronto's hazardous catch basin cover replacement program, in which catch basin covers are replaced systematically (as part of annual reconstruction programs, on high priority cycling streets and at locations identified by cyclists) is a good model of how a "bicycle safety spot improvement program" could operate.

Recommendation #14

That The City of Toronto develop a comprehensive network of on-street bicycle lanes and routes and off-street trails to enhance bicycle safety.


The former City of Toronto has installed about 50 kilometers of bicycle lanes on its roads. In response to growing public concern about the safety of cycling on City streets following the cycling fatalities in the summer 1996, Toronto City Council increased funding for the bicycle route program and established a goal to install 15 km of new bicycle lanes and routes annually. There has been very little development of on-street bicycle lanes and routes on streets outside of the former city of Toronto.

There is a well developed system of multi-use trails in parks, ravines and along the waterfront of the City. New sections of trail are added each year. These off-street trails can provide an alternative for cyclists who wish to travel for recreation or commuting purposes away from automobile traffic. In order to expand the safe cycling opportunities for cyclists, a comprehensive bicycle route network which integrates both off-street and on-street facilities should be developed for the new City of Toronto.

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H. Large vehicles and bicycles

Recommendation #15

That Transport Canada investigate the feasibility of requiring "side guards" for large trucks, trailers and buses operated in urban areas to prevent pedestrians and cyclists being run over by the rear wheels in collisions with these large vehicles.


Side guards are a legal requirement in the U.K. and in Europe to reduce injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. The mechanism of injuries for cyclists and pedestrians involved in slow speed collisions appears to be a dragging down motion of the victim caused by the large tire's slow rotation. In at least 2 of the 1996 fatalities involving cyclists in the City of Toronto, the cyclist was crushed under the rear wheels of a truck. Side guards are designed to reduce the risk of a cyclist or pedestrian being dragged down under the rear wheels.

Although side guards are costly and add weight to the vehicle, experience in the U.K. and Europe would indicate there are several advantages. They can provide a step for the driver wishing to climb up onto the vehicle, and they can also provide protection for some in-board parts of the vehicle. Most importantly however, they do appear to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians and cyclists.

The Federal Government (Transport Canada) sets vehicle standards for all new vehicles which are manufactured in or imported into Canada. The responsibility for mandating truck or bus safety equipment, including retrofitting, would therefore fall under the jurisdiction of Transport Canada. The responsibility of the Province would include prescribing that side guard protection remain in place and be maintained if they were prescribed by the Federal Agency.

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Prepared by:

W. J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Coroner for Toronto



Appendix A: Summary chart

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Appendix "B": Suggested amendments to the Highway Traffic Act

Section 62(14) Lamps Required (Equipment)
No person shall use a lamp, other than the vehicular warning signal lamps commonly known as four way flashers, that produces intermittent flashes of red light.

The "spirit" of this section is to restrict motor vehicles from using lighting which may resemble emergency vehicles. The rear light commonly used by cyclists is a rapidly flashing red light which is highly visible, but technically in violation of the HTA.

Section 62 (17) Lamps Required (Equipment)
When on a highway at any time from one half-hour before sunset to one-half hour after sunrise every bicycleshall carry on the front thereof a light lamp displaying a white or amber light and on the rear thereof a lighted lamp displaying a red light or a reflector approved by the Ministry, and in addition there shall be placed on the front forks thereof white reflective material and on the rear thereof red reflective material covering a surface of not less than 250 millimeters in length and 25 millimeters in width.

It is not practical, (and in some cases impossible) for most modern bicycles to accommodate the amounts of tape now required by the H.T.A. Clothing with reflective tape or material could enhance cyclists' visibility when there is insufficient light. The intent of this section is that the cyclist and his or her vehicle should be visible. Some degree of flexibility in how this is to be achieved would be desirable.

Section 128 - Rate of Speed
This section applies only to motor vehicles and streetcars. Modern bicycles are commonly capable of exceeding speed limits on city thorough fares. Wording should be amended in this section to enforce the concept that bicycles are vehicles as well.

Section 130(2) Careless Driving
Maintaining an appropriate and safe distance between motor vehicles and bicycles need more emphasis in the HTA.

Suggested wording for consideration is as follows:

Upon passing a bicycle, drivers or operators of motor vehicles shall maintain a distance of least 1 meter beside. Upon traveling behind the bicycle, drivers or operators of motor vehicles shall maintain a distance of at least 3 meters behind. Where a traffic lane is too narrow to share safely with a motor vehicle, it is legal for a bicycle to take the whole lane by riding in the center of it.

The source for this recommendation is the Ontario Ministry of Transportation Cycling Skills (1985) publication. Motor vehicle operators must appreciate that a bicycle is a vehicle and is entitled to dominate a lane where it is appropriate to do so. This concept is widely taught in bicycle skill training courses.

Section 141(2)(5)(6) Turns
Wording in this section should be reviewed to identify the rights of bicycles as vehicles occupying the roadway.

In urban centers, there is a concern about motorists turning right at an intersection at the same time that a cyclist is proceeding straight through the intersection. In situations where bicycle lanes exist, the problem is compounded even further as the motor vehicle is positioned further to the left in the curb lane.

Section 142(5) Right Turn Signal
The use of the left arm to indicate a right turn is ambiguous and leads to confusion. The use of the right arm is clearer and easier for children to comprehend, as they can be taught simply to point in the direction of their intended turn. The Official Driver's Handbook, published by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (1995) states on page 22 "when watching for signals made by others, remember that cyclists may signal right turns by holding their right arms straight out". The option of using this "alternate" right turn signal when visibility and safety allow should be included in the HTA.

Section 147(1) Slow Vehicles to Travel on Right Side
Any vehicle traveling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right-hand curb or edge of the roadway.

A clear definition of "where practicable" is necessary. This section may be contradicted by Section 148(2) which may place the bicycle (vehicle) in an unsafe or dangerous location on the roadway. (See below)

Section 148(2) Vehicles or Equestrians Overtaken
Every person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway who is overtaken by a vehicle or equestrian traveling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right and allow the overtaking vehicle or equestrian to pass.

Suggested wording changes to be considered for this section are as follows:

Every person...... traveling at a greater speed shall, when safe to do so, turn out to the right as close as practicable and allow.......

Section 148(5) Vehicles or Equestrians Overtaking Others
Every person in charge of a vehicle or on horseback on a highway who is overtaking another vehicle or equestrian shall turn out to the left so far as may be necessary to avoid a collision when the vehicle or equestrian being overtaken, and the person overtaken is not required to leave more than one-half of the roadway free.

Section 148(6) Bicycles Overtaken
Every person on a bicycle or a motor assisted bicycle who is overtaken by a vehicle or an equestrian traveling at a greater speed shall turn out to the right......

The theory of safe cycling proposes that every person who is in charge of a bicycle on a highway is a vehicle and should operate their vehicle as would the driver of a car, motorcycle or truck etc. CAN-BIKE Cyclist Training teaches cyclists to travel a straight line to be visible and predictable. This regulation re-enforces the negative idea that cyclists should "get out of the way". Section 148(6), should therefore be omitted from the Act as the contents of Section 148(5) appear to cover the issue.

Section 148(8) (Passing Meeting Vehicles)
No person in charge of a vehicle shall pass or attempt to pass another vehicle going in the same direction on a highway unless the roadway, (a) in front of and to the left of the vehicle to be passed is safely free from approaching traffic and (b) to the left of the vehicle passing or attempting to pass is safely free from overtaking traffic.

While the HTA is not specific on what constitutes sufficient room for overtaking, it would appear that the Ministry of Transportation driver examiners expect a driver to do a complete lane change while passing a cyclist. In low speed urban areas, it is preferable for the driver to pass a cyclist by straddling the center line, thereby allowing half a lane clearance for the cyclist. This maneuver creates a safer environment both for the cyclist and the motor vehicle operator.

Section 150(1) Passing to Right of Vehicle
The driver of a motor vehicle may overtake and pass to the right of another vehicle only where such movement can be made in safety and, (a) the vehicle overtaken is making or about to make a left turn or its driver has signaled his or her intention to make a left turn; (b) is made on a highway with unobstructed pavement of sufficient width for two or more lines of vehicles in each direction; or (c) is made on a highway designated for the use of one-way traffic only.

This section should be amended to read vehicle and not just motor vehicle. A person who is operating a bicycle on a highway will at some time be required to pass another vehicle to the right, as would the driver of a motor vehicle. CAN-BIKE programs emphasize passing to the right of a motor vehicle "only where such movement can be made in safety."

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Appendix "C": Selected bibliography and references

  1. Cycle Use and Collisions in Christchurch
    Transit New Zealand Research Report No. 7
    Christchurch Cycle Safety Committee, 1991
  2. Ontario Road Safety Annual Reports, 1993, 1994
    Safety Policy Branch
    Safety and Regulations Division
    Ministry of Transport, Ontario
  3. The Effectiveness of Bicycle Helmets: A Report for the Motor Accidents Authority of New South Wales, Australia - 1995 by Dr. Michael Henderson
  4. Bicycle City 2001 - Creating A Bicycle Transportation Plan for the City of Toronto
    The Toronto City Cycling Committee's Vision for the Future
  5. Bikes and Heavy Goods Vehicles
    CTC Occasional Paper No. 3, 1996
    Paper by Gavin Maclean and Colin Graham

The Office of the Regional Coroner for Toronto would like to thank all the Committee participants for their valued contribution to this project.

Special acknowledgment is also offered to the Traffic Services Division of the Toronto Police Service, without whose

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W.J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Supervising Coroner
Central Region
24 Queen Street East
Brampton, Ontario L6V 1A3
July 22, 2002

Dear Dr. Lucas:

We are writing in response to your letter of April 24, 2002 addressed to His Worship, Mayor Mel Lastman, regarding an update on the actions undertaken by the City of Toronto to enhance cycling safety in response to the recommendations contained in your 1998 Report on Cycling Fatalities in Toronto.

The City of Toronto is very committed to improving conditions for cycling and encouraging more trips by bicycle. Towards this goal, City Council adopted the Toronto Bike Plan in July 2001. This ambitious ten-year plan sets out principles, objectives and recommendations in order to create a safe, comfortable and bicycle friendly environment in Toronto which encourages people of all ages to use bicycles for everyday transportation and enjoyment. The new draft Official Plan also recognizes bicycle transportation as an important element in the long-term plan for the City.

According to a 1999 City of Toronto Cycling Survey, there are over 939,000 cyclists in the City over the age of 15. Every year, more people are realizing the benefits of using their bikes as a means of transportation in the City, improving their fitness level and improving air quality by leaving their cars at home. I have included a copy of the Toronto Bike Plan for your information.

Following are comments on actions undertaken by the City of Toronto in response to Recommendations 4, 5, 6, 10, 13 and 14 of your report. Recommendations 10 and 11 are primarily the responsibility of the Toronto Police Service and they will respond directly to you on those, though we have added some comments on Recommendation 10

Recommendation #4

That the City of Toronto, with the assistance of the Ontario Trauma Registry, the Ministry of Transportation and other interested parties, initiate a comprehensive study of bicycle usage and collisions within the City. The study would include:

      • probable causes of collisions (behavioural, geometric design, road condition, etc.)
      • high frequency collision locations
      • bicycle collision/injury trends
      • physical infrastructure improvements to prevent collisions (site specific or systemic changes)
      • educational messages for drivers, cyclists and the media
      • any other relevant issues

In July 1999, Transportation Services staff began a comprehensive analysis of all reported collisions between bicycles and motor vehicles that occurred in 1997 and 1998. The study design, which examined over 2,500 collisions, was based on U.S. Federal Highway Administration research which classifies collision according to "crash type" and identifies contributing factors. The findings of the study have provided a wealth of information about cycling collisions in the City of Toronto and a final report on the Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collisions Study will be published this Fall.

With the aid of GIS mapping, the bicycle collision data has been analyzed geographically to identify trends in different parts of the City. This information has enabled us to begin targeting safety educational programs to areas where they will be most effective. For example, the most common type of collision on downtown streets involved drivers opening their car-door in front of a cyclist. As a first step in reducing this type of collision, the City has developed a mandatory sticker program for taxicabs - a reminder to taxicab drivers and passengers to look for bikes prior to opening the car door.

With the new Toronto bicycle collision data we have updated our CAN-BIKE program and have added a new chapter on collisions and crashes for our instructors to use in public courses. The data has helped us to identify new areas of concern in terms of educational messages for drivers, cyclists and the media. For instance, over 30% of the cyclists involved in reported motor vehicle collisions were cycling on the sidewalk immediately prior to their collisions, making this the most frequent contributing factor. We have launched a new Sidewalks are for Pedestrians Campaign in 2002 which highlights the danger to both cyclists and pedestrians when cyclists ride on the sidewalk.

Recommendation #5

That a multi-disciplinary team involving municipal staff, including traffic engineering, bicycle facility planning and bicycle safety training staff, and police and ambulance personnel be established to conduct an annual review of all cycling fatalities in the City of Toronto as well as bicycle collision data.

The findings of the Bicycle-Motor Vehicle Collision Study have been presented to the Toronto Cycling Committee and the key staff involved in planning for and educating cyclists (Transportation Planning, Toronto Police Service, Transportation Services, etc.). The final report, to be published this Fall, will identify next steps and a recommended process for an ongoing review of bicycle collision data and trends.

Recommendation #6

That the City of Toronto identify on-going funding sources to expand cycling collision/injury prevention programs. This could include, but not be limited to:

      • more widespread availability of CAN-BIKE training for adults and youth;
      • publishing regular road safety reports that highlight common collision types and
      • ways to prevent them; and
      • production of a bicycle safety video for use in driver training.
      • programs, police training programs, in schools and other programs.

The City of Toronto has had difficulty in identifying on-going funding sources to expand cycling collision/injury prevention programs. Prior to the Bike Plan, Urban Development Services invested $108,000 in its cycling safety programs. That amount was maintained in 2002 with no increases to accommodate new projects identified in the Bike Plan. Funding constraints will continue to impose limitations on the delivery of bicycle safety programs.

  • More widespread availability of CAN-BIKE training for adults and youth

The City's Parks and Recreation Division is taking over the delivery of CAN-BIKE courses which are being held in 15 Community Centres across Toronto. As staff becomes more familiar with CAN-BIKE, the program will be well-positioned to expand into more community centres over time. CAN-BIKE still relies on word-of-mouth advertising, although we have developed a new CAN-BIKE poster for display. Many cyclists are still not aware of the program.

  • Publishing regular road safety reports that highlight common collision types and ways to prevent them

No action yet.

  • Production of a bicycle safety video for use in driver training.

With limited resources, Urban Development Services is developing a CAN-BIKE driver-training unit. It has been pilot-tested with driving instructors at the Road Safety Educators' Association Annual Conference in 2002. Still in development, the "Driving with Bikes" curriculum will rely on overheads rather than video or power point presentations in order to reduce costs. Once completed, "Driving with Bikes" will need to be marketed to the driving industry. The need for a Canadian-made bicycle safety video to be used in the CAN-BIKE program is still required as a US video currently in use does not reflect Canadian laws or best practises.

  • Programs, police training programs, in schools and other programs.

Schools and parent groups request the City's assistance in providing bicycle safety training for students. The City does not have the capability, either through the Ambassador program or through police bicycle rodeos, to meet the demand. We have sent a cycling questionnaire to schools within the Toronto District School Board and the Toronto Catholic District School Board and the information collected will allow us to work with both individual schools and school boards to find solutions to the delivery of bicycle safety courses to students. Soon, we will begin work on developing a Bike Bus program - where bikes, helmets and trainers can arrive at a school or a corporation or at a community festival/event and deliver on-bike safety courses. We will approach school boards and other corporate partners in the development of this program. This initiative is part of the Bike Plan and is at least two years away.

Recommendation #10

That the Toronto Police Service, in partnership with the municipal Cycling Committee, expand targeted enforcement and education efforts towards specific behaviours (cyclists and drivers) which cause collisions, and use the media to raise awareness of these behaviours.

Although the Toronto Police Service will be responding to Recommendation #10, attention should be drawn to educational efforts that are implemented annually by volunteers from the Toronto Cycling Committee, staff from Urban Development Services and the Police. Toronto Police took part in the City's annual Bike Week this year by inviting cyclists to Police Headquarters to attend a Breakfast on Friday June 7, 2002. A Toronto police officer and the bicycle safety planner for Toronto who are CAN-BIKE certified also taught a special CAN-BIKE course for reporters, police officers and bicycle couriers in order to draw attention to the importance of training for safety. All of these initiatives are aimed at raising awareness about bicycle safety.

The Road and Trail Safety Ambassadors have also been an effective way to deliver bicycle safety programs to cyclists and drivers across Toronto. This program has been scaled back due to funding limitations. In the past, up to 20 summer students have been able to deliver bicycle safety programs (such as S.P.A.C.E and O.A.S.I.S.). This year only 5 students have been hired and, consequently, our response to demands for bicycle safety programming has been limited.

Recommendation #13

That The City of Toronto identify potentially dangerous locations for cyclists including high frequency accident locations and cyclist-identified problem areas where site specific improvements can be made to prevent bicycle collisions.

This recommendation has been incorporated into the Toronto Bike Plan and Transportation Services staff are working closely with the Toronto Cycling Committee and other cycling groups to identify problem locations and make improvements where feasible.

Recommendation #14

That The City of Toronto develop a comprehensive network of on-street bicycle lanes and routes and off-street trails to enhance bicycle safety.

The recommended Bikeway Network is a central component of the new Toronto Bike Plan. The Plan recommends a 1000 km network of dedicated bicycle lanes, signed shared bicycle routes and off-street trails to be developed over the next ten years. Several new bicycle lanes have been approved for installation this year, in year one of the Bike Plan, and several more are in the planning and design stages. City Council has committed over $1.5 million for bikeway development in 2002 alone.

To conclude, we have been able to strengthen many existing safety programs over the past four years. Our success is evident in the number of requests that we receive from the community who clearly want to have on-going access to cycling information. We have developed new ways of "getting the message out". The City has a new on-line subscription service. Through "Cycling News" we will be able to send a newsletter and information directly to cyclists who subscribe on the internet. In addition, we are developing Bicycle User Groups in workplaces across Toronto. This will allow us to distribute cycling safety information more effectively.

The City remains committed to encouraging cycling and enhancing safety and we will continue to deliver and expand safety programs and infrastructure as resources permit. We are also interested in the responses from other agencies on recommendations that impact cycling safety in Toronto. For instance, we look forward to participating in the review of the Highway Traffic Act and to working with your Office on any other recommendations included in your report that will increase safety for cyclists.

Finally, we would also like to express our appreciation of the work your Office has undertaken to provide a fuller understanding of bicycle safety issues and in identifying measures to address them. We believe our collective aim of reducing the rate of cycling injuries and fatalities can be achieved through the efforts outlined above.

Yours truly,

Paula M. Dill, Commissioner
Urban Development Services
B. H. Gutteridge, Commissioner
Works and Emergency Services

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April 24, 2002

Mayor Mel Lastman
Toronto City Hall
2nd Floor 100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2

Dear Mayor Lastman:

During the summer of 1996 2 rather high profile cycling fatalities occurred within the City of Toronto within the space of 10 days. As a result, a committee was struck under auspices of the Office of the Chief Coroner to review cycling fatalities over a ten year period within the city with a view to make recommendations directed towards enhancing cycling safety, not only for the City of Toronto but for the Province of Ontario as a whole.

A report was prepared and distributed in July 1998. It contained an overview of the review process, a summary of the committee's findings and 15 recommendations directed to various organizations, agencies and ministries of government. The text of the complete report is available at the City of Toronto website at under the heading of Reports.

Recommendations were directed to the following identified organizations or ministries:

  • Ministry of Transportation Ontario
    Recommendations 1,2,7,8,9,12
  • Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police
    Recommendations 1,2,3
  • City of Toronto
    Recommendations 4,5,6,10,11,13,14
  • Toronto Police Service
    Recommendations 1,2,3,10,11
  • Ministry of the Solicitor General for Ontario
    Recommendation 1
  • Transport Canada
    Recommendation 15
  • Canada Safety Council
    Recommendation 8

It is now almost four years since the completion and publication of the report. A busy summer season of cycling is anticipated. It is our hope that the recommendations from the report have generated some action and measures to reduce the chances of significant numbers of fatalities on our roadways.

I am therefore writing at this time to seek feedback from your organization/ministry regarding the recommendations contained in the report that are relevant to you.

Your responses will serve as an impetus to relevant stakeholders in deciding what appropriate safety measures need to be considered for the anticipated busy cycling season. A response at your earliest convenience would be much appreciated.

Yours truly,

W. J. Lucas, M.D., C.C.F.P.
Regional Supervising Coroner
Central Region

c:Mr. Barry Gutteridge
Commissioner, Works and Emergency Services

Ms. Paula M. Dill
Commissioner, Urban Development Services