Editors' Blog

Green Living editors dish on the latest trends and happenings in sustainability.

By Anne Simmonds

“Who of us here has not had one of those heart stopping moments of terror as a vehicle speeds past, leaving little space and almost throwing us off balance?” The older woman dressed in a crossing-guard style vest addressed the stranger beside her. “I have one almost every week” the younger woman responded. “Is that why you are here or did you know Jenna?” She asked. “I didn’t know her, but in a way I did!” responded the older woman. “Thirty-two years ago, this month, I went over the handlebars of my bike six weeks before my daughter was born. I lost my two front teeth, abraded my entire face and had a gash on my chin. As my daughter grew up I took her to school and around the city on the bike. We didn’t wear helmets and I felt safer then than I do now. I’ve been riding a bike in this city since I was a child. I refuse to stop.”

This was just one of many conversations heard as cyclists stopped at their collective destination – the spot where pregnant wife and mother Jenna Morrison lost her life having been thrown from her bike to the underside of a dump truck. Jenna was meters from her home and just blocks from the school where her five-year-old son waited to be picked up.

Less than a Year ago (Dec. 1 2010) Rob Ford newly elected mayor of Toronto declared an “end to the ‘war on cars.’” Can we look at statistics to help us ascertain who are the real victims of these so-called vehicle wars? From 2005 – 2010, 14 people died in cycling collisions with vehicles in the city. A further 6,094 were injured during the same time period. There were a further 883 reported collisions where no injuries were sustained. Significantly, but not surprising, most collisions happen between 4 – 6 pm. Pedestrians fare as poorly as cyclists. In a pedestrian/motor vehicle collisions study on 2002-3 mishaps, 4,775 such pedestrians were killed or injured.

A search on motor vehicle drivers injured or killed by either pedestrians or cyclist revealed no results. A serious Internet search for statistics of pedestrian’s collisions with bicycles resulted in no findings.

Dear Mayor Ford, with all due respect, inciting war between pedestrians, cyclist and motorists is not helpful or what anyone elected you to accomplish. What we all want is to get around the city safely. Designated bike lanes separated from traffic by a barrier will protect cyclists and pedestrians. This could be your most significant contribution during your time as mayor. Consider this!