As ghost bikes (marking the site of a cycling death) multiply around Toronto, the Ministry of Transportation has announced its plans to respond to the Chief Coroner of Ontario’s “Cycling Death Review”. Comments on EBR posting 011-7552 are invited until January 31, 2013. As a first step, MTO plans to replace its 20 year old Bicycle Policy with a new Cycling Strategy, including:
- Providing the purchasers of bicycles with cycling safety information,
- Initiating a separate consultation on legislative and/or regulatory changes, which are likely to include cycling on paved shoulders, mandatory helmets, and mandatory side guards for trucks;
- Public education for drivers and cyclists, in collaboration with road safety organizations,
- Updating the Driver Handbooks to enhance the safety of all road users, including cyclists,
- Reviewing and updating the Highway Traffic Act to improve cycling safety, and
- Leading the identification of a province-wide cycling network.
Earlier this year, the Chief Coroner recommended:
• Adoption of a “complete streets” approach – focused on the safety of all road users – to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the design of new communities throughout Ontario.
• Development of an Ontario Cycling Plan to guide the development of policy, legislation and regulations and the commitment of infrastructure funding to support cycling in Ontario.
• A comprehensive cycling safety public awareness and education strategy, starting in public schools, and continuing through the purchase of every new and used bicycle and through driver’s license testing.
• Legislative change (Highway Traffic Act (HTA); Municipal Act; relevant Municipal By-Laws) aimed at ensuring clarity and consistency regarding interactions between cyclists and other road users.
• Strategies to promote and support helmet use for cyclists of all ages.
• Implementation of mandatory helmet legislation for cyclists of all ages, within the context of an evaluation of the impact of this legislation on cycling activity.
• Establishment of a “one-meter” rule for vehicles when passing cyclists.
• Prioritizing the development of paved shoulders on provincial highways.
• Mandatory side-guards for heavy trucks.
• Enforcement, education and public safety activities targeted to the specific issues of cycling safety identified in a given community.
Recommendations from “Cycling Death Review”
Here is a complete set of the Chief Coroner’s Recommendations Directed at the Ministry of Transportation
1. A “complete streets” approach should be adopted to guide the redevelopment of existing communities and the creation of new communities throughout Ontario. Such an approach would require that any (re-)development give consideration to enhancing safety for all road users, and should include:
- Creation of cycling networks (incorporating strategies such as connected cycling lanes, separated bike lanes, bike paths and other models appropriate to the community.)
- Designation of community safety zones in residential areas, with reduced posted maximum speeds and increased fines for speeding.
2. An Ontario Cycling Plan should be developed, building upon the 1992 Provincial Bicycle Policy. This Plan would establish a vision for cycling in Ontario, and would guide the development of policy, legislation and regulations and commitment of necessary infrastructure funding pertaining to cycling in Ontario. This plan should be publicly available.
3. The Ministry of Transportation should identify the development of paved shoulders on provincial highways as a high priority initiative.
4. A comprehensive public education program should be developed to promote safer sharing of the road by all users. This initiative should be facilitated by the Ministry of Transportation, in collaboration with key stakeholder groups, including but not limited to, the Canadian Automobile Association, Share the Road Cycling Coalition, local cycling organizations and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police. Such a program should include:
- A targeted public awareness campaign, in the spring/summer months, with key messages around cycling safety. This could include changes arising from other recommendations from this Review (such as changes to the Highway Traffic Act).
- Education targeted at professional truck drivers regarding awareness and avoidance of cycling dangers.
- Education / regulation directed towards Beginning Driver Education (BDE) courses and driving instructors to include sharing the road and bicycle safety. This should be introduced in both classroom curricula and on-road training.
- Public safety campaigns around the dangers of distracted and impaired cycling (headphone use; carrying unsafe loads; cycling while under the influence of drugs or alcohol).
5. It should be a requirement that important bicycle safety information (such as rules of the road and helmet information) be provided to purchasers of any new or used bicycle. Such information could be included in a “hang tag” information card attached to the handlebar of every bicycle at the time of purchase which would include critical information and a reference to the Ministry of Transportation website and Service Ontario for additional bicycle safety information and publications.
7. The Official Driver’s Handbooks (Driver’s Handbook; Truck Handbook; Bus Handbook; Motorcycle Handbook) should be updated to provide expanded information around sharing the road with cyclists, and include cycling-related scenarios in driver examinations.
8. A comprehensive review and revision of the Highway Traffic Act (HTA) should be conducted to ensure that it is consistent and understandable with respect to cycling and cyclists and therefore easier to promote and enforce.
11. The Highway Traffic Act should be amended to make helmets mandatory for cyclists of all ages in Ontario. This should occur in conjunction with an evaluation of the impact of mandatory helmet legislation on cycling activity in Ontario. Such an evaluation strategy should be developed and carried out in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and Public Health Ontario.
12. The Highway Traffic Act should be amended to include a one (1) meter / three (3) foot passing rule for vehicles when passing cyclists. This change in legislation should be reflected in the Ontario Driver’s Handbook, Beginning Driver Education curricula and the driver’s licence examination process.