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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Cycling Toronto's somewhat safe streets

Two things happened to me today on my way to and from the gym.

I took my retro blue Road King cruiser which I have fully restored and went carefully through one of the busiest areas in Toronto (Bloor and Yonge intersection). I parked and locked my bike up and while walking across the Bay-Bloor cross-walk a crazy old bitch in a Honda nearly ran me over.

Proof to me that walking is just as dangerous as cycling.

In 2008 there was 1,068 bicycle accidents reported to Toronto police (see map of 2008 bike accidents). In contrast there was many thousands of pedestrians hit by cars. True, there is way more pedestrians than there is cyclists, but the number does seem relatively low for a city of 5 million people. At approx. 3 accidents per day and only 1 fatal bicycle accident in all of 2008, that seems awfully safe.

The Top Five Most Dangerous Intersections in Toronto
Bay and Dundas - 7 accidents in 2008
College and Crawford - 7 accidents in 2008
Queen and Broadview - 5 accidents in 2008
Yonge and Dundas - 5 accidents in 2008
Bloor and Bathurst - 4 accidents in 2008

Approx. 90% of the accidents are the result of "doorings" (someone opens their car door and unsuspecting cyclist goes straight into it). For those keeping track, if a police officer notices a dooring or gets called to the scene of a dooring accident its a fine that can range over $200, and the cyclist can sue for injuries because its 100% the fault of the person who opened the door without paying attention.

Doorings however are reduced significantly on streets with bike lanes. Its a tricky matter. Cycling in the middle of the vehicle lane tends to piss off car drivers. Cycling on the side of the lane puts you at risk for more pot holes and doorings.

So there is the need for more bicycle lanes (and safer intersections for pedestrians too). To that end the city of Toronto has announced it plans to spend $70 million over the next 10 years increasing Toronto's bike lanes, removing pot holes, etc. The plan hasn't been approved yet, but proponents of it are pushing hard for it. Cycling advocates approve of the plan and say giving bikes more room on the road and more people will ride them, reducing congestion and smog.

Leaving the gym I crossed the street once more (no crazy drivers this time) and found a little surprise waiting on my bike: A printed note titled "I LIKE YOUR BIKE, SHOW IT OFF!!!!" which was promoting a June 6th 2009 event for a Vintage Bicycle Contest, a silent auction, a bike accessory sale, obstacle course and a free BBQ.

Its taking place at 29 Barton Ave (1 block north of Bloor/Yonge).

For more details see batemansbikeco.com (which is sponsoring the event).

So apparently I am not the only one who fusses about my retro blue Road King.

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