‘Life-altering injuries’: Toronto cyclist hospitalized in ‘terrifying’ Lake Shore crash | The Star

2022-05-29 00:23:17 By : Ms. Nicole Yin

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Biking advocates are decrying the city’s unsafe streets after a cyclist was left with “life-altering injuries” after they were hit while cycling on Toronto’s waterfront over the weekend.

According to police, the cyclist was hit by a driver who was travelling eastbound on Lake Shore Boulevard West shortly after 7 a.m. on Saturday. The driver lost control of their vehicle, mounted the curb, crossed a grass divider, passed over the Martin Goodman Trail and crashed into a metal guardrail on Oarsman Drive near the Argonaut Rowing Club.

The cyclist was rushed to a trauma centre with “life-altering injuries,” police said. The driver remained on the scene after the crash and was taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

The crash is “terrifying and infuriating,” said Jess Spieker, spokesperson for Friends and Families for Safe Streets. “For anyone using a roadway, there is nothing to keep you safe.”

At the site of the crash, the three lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard are separated from the Martin Goodman Trail by a sidewalk and grass median. At Oarsman Drive, there is no physical barrier between traffic and the trail; the metal guardrail protecting Oarsman Drive remained broken and twisted Monday.

Spieker said the current road infrastructure incentivizes drivers to speed due to wide and straight roads.

Melissa Kulik, spokesperson for Toronto police Traffic Services, said charges have been laid under the Highway Traffic Act but “no further details can be provided.” Toronto police typically do not identify drivers charges with non-criminal traffic offences.

Police did not specify where exactly the cyclist was riding when they were hit.

In 2015, Spieker also suffered “life-altering injuries” after she was hit by a driver while on her bike. Her spine was broken; she sustained a brain injury.

“It’s diminished every part of my life,” she said. “Seeing this latest crash, it’s frustrating because it’s a pattern. Our leaders don’t care enough. They would rather maximize vehicles over human life.”

Keagan Gartz, executive director of Cycle Toronto, agreed that road design should be the priority for road safety, noting that the Martin Goodman Trail is next to six lanes of traffic, an expressway and a major arterial road. That proximity makes pedestrians and cyclists vulnerable, she said.

“This is fundamentally a road design problem, because someone should not have been travelling at that speed to mount a metal curb and hit someone biking,” she said. “Even if they might have been distracted.”

If penalties were more severe, drivers would be more careful on the roads and cyclists would feel more safe, added Jun Nogami, of Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists. “Typically drivers just get a slap on the wrist,” he added.

Lawyer David Shellnutt emphasized that cyclists may not know there are benefits in place to help if they’re hit by a driver. Ontario’s No-Fault Accident Benefit kicks in immediately after a cyclist has been injured, helping to pay for lost wages and medical rehabilitation benefits, said Shellnutt, founder of the Biking Lawyer LLP.

A key step is to report any crash, since the more police reports and crashes are documented, the more actionable progress can be made, he added.

“Seek medical attention and get authorities down there.”

Saturday’s crash happened near where a five-year-old boy died after he fell off his bike into traffic in 2017. The boy’s death prompted a review of safety measures on the Martin Goodman Trail.

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