Monday, October 24, 2011

Coroner review of Cycling Deaths in Ontario

First there was the Coroner's report on Toronto, now an Ontario-wide review into cycling fatalities:
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Ontario's chief coroner will investigate an increase in cycling deaths across Ontario during a five-year period, it was announced Monday.

Dr. Dan Cass, a regional supervising coroner based in Toronto, leads the review and will look into all cycling-related deaths from 2006-10, searching for some common factors.

If Cass can see any similarities between the deaths, he will make recommendations to help increase cycling safety across the province. A final report should be released in spring 2012.

The investigation was initiated because of a concern surrounding cycling safety. The coroner estimates between 15 and 20 cyclists die on Ontario roads every year from accidental collisions.

Toronto cyclists union already on board
Toronto's cyclists union, which estimates a total of 35 pedestrians and cyclists die each year on Toronto roads, has already commended the coroner for undertaking the probe.

The coroner's office has also already met with Toronto lawyers Patrick Brown and Albert Koehl, who are both on the cyclists union, concerning the review.

"Safety improvements for one group of road users benefit other users. Any decrease in collisions will also reduce health care costs, suffering and family grief, which makes this initiative very important for the entire community," said Brown.

According to the cyclists union, there has been a reported 30 per cent increase in the number of people riding to work across Canada.

A 2009 poll cited by the union also revealed 60 per cent of Ontarians would cycle more but are afraid to do so.

Toronto cycling last reviewed in 1998

Toronto's regional coroner completed a review of cycling safety in the city in 1998 and made a long list of recommendations.

The final report asked for more detailed reporting of collisions, more education for cyclists and motorists and increased awareness surrounding helmet use, among other recommendations.

The report also called for more bike lanes and safer areas for cyclists to ride in Toronto.

This latest investigation also comes two weeks after an Ottawa woman — who was cycling to work — died after she was knocked into moving traffic by someone opening a car door.

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