Protest at City Hall
Hundreds of concerned citizens recently staged a rally at Toronto City Hall to protest the number of cyclists and pedestrians being killed or maimed by cars across the City. Shockingly, 16 people have been killed by cars on our streets since Jan. 1. 2018. The year is only 3 months old and the cycling season has not even truly started – a grim beginning.
Recently, a study commissioned by the City of Toronto identified numerous reasons for the increase in traffic casualties across the city. Boulevards have deteriorated to such a degree that full reconstruction is necessary. There is a lack of pedestrian crossings and medians to allow safe passage across roadways, and dedicated cycling lanes are fraught with confusing intersection markings and are littered with potholes.
With so many more condominiums and office towers downtown for people to live and work in, it is quite obvious that community safety needs have been left far behind. One has to wonder about how serious the City of Toronto is in actually protecting its citizens.
Over the last few years, the City has implemented a magnificent bike sharing program that is offered to everyone with a swipe of a charge card. It makes bike riding easier for everyone and is a service many use. Convenience is a major motivator. Unfortunately, virtually no one who uses the City bike-share service wears a helmet, nor are any offered by the city.
As a fact, bicycle collisions happen with more and more frequency. We can’t wave a magic wand and fix the infrastructure problems overnight, but providing helmets as part of the city’s bike sharing program would be a simple way to help cut down on serious injuries.
Interestingly the City of New York has a similar bike-sharing program. It is the fastest growing program of its kind in the US, with over 330 docking stations. In order to cut down on the number of riders suffering head injuries as a result of a collision, they decided to encourage the wearing of helmets by way of education. The result has been a failure. There has been no increase in the number of people wearing bicycle helmets and just as many injuries as before. New York, just like Toronto should make wearing a bicycle helmet a mandatory requirement for anyone who wants to use its City bike sharing program.
Lastly, safety does not lie solely on the shoulders of the City. It falls upon all of us to do the safest thing. Wear a helmet, regardless of your age, whenever and wherever you ride a bicycle.