The Ontario Coroner’s Report on Cycling Deaths was released on July 13, 2012. There has been a lot of media reaction to the report, but most of it was focused on their recommendation to make helmets mandatory for all cyclists. It’s ironic that the members of the Expert Panel had concerns “that government may see mandatory helmet legislation as “the answer” to cycling safety, with the result that other measures recommended in this Review (improved infrastructure, legislative review, education and enforcement activities) are de-emphasized or not acted upon.”
If you’ve not read the report, it’s well worth the read. It’s not just about helmets. Read here.
There are a number of really interesting statistics and recommendations that are worth reiterating, which we’ve done below.
The SCU may want to look at the information in this report to help guide where they we want to focus our energies for the coming year. In particular, we’ve already talked about championing the Complete Streets approach with the city of Sudbury; and education and public safety activities as directions we want to take. It’s to note that Complete Streets was the first recommendation listed in the report. Given that Sudbury’s not done a whole lot of building more cycling infrastructure during this summer’s construction period, advocating for the inclusion of this approach in the city’s Official Plan may be the only way that they will become accountable for ensuring that new construction or existing road repairs include cycling infrastructure.
We encourage you to look at the report and let us know where you think we should go in advocating for safer streets in Sudbury.
The Office of the Chief Coroner conducted a detailed review of accidental cycling deaths in Ontario for the period beginning January 1st, 2006 and ending December 31st, 2010.
- There were 129 deaths examined in this Cycling Death Review.
- 86% (111 of 129) of those killed while cycling were male.
- Approximately two-thirds (84 of 129; 65%), of fatal cycling collisions took place in an urban environment, with the other one-third (45 of 129; 35%) occurring in a rural setting.
- The peak age for cycling deaths was 45-54 years; over half of cycling fatalities (66 of 129; 51%) occurred in persons aged 45 and older.
- Children represented a smaller, but significant, portion of cycling deaths. A total of 19 deaths (15%) occurred in those aged 19 and under; 8 of those (6%) were in children aged 14 or under.
- Numbers of cycling fatalities in Ontario declined each year from 2006 (41) to 2009 (14), but rose again (to 25) in 2010.
- The peak months for cycling fatalities were July, August and September (46%).
- A total of 96 of the 129 deaths (74%) occurred in the Spring and Summer months.
- The vast majority of cycling deaths occurred during clear weather, on dry roads, with good visibility.
- More than half (69 of 129; 53%), of the fatal cycling collisions occurred in daylight conditions.
- The peak time for fatal collisions (25 of 129; 19%) occurred between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm.
- Only 27% (35 of 129) of those who died as the result of a cycling collision were wearing a helmet. Despite mandatory legislation, only 6.25% (1 of 16) of cyclists under the age of 18 who died were wearing a helmet. Those cyclists whose cause of death included a head injury were three times less likely to be wearing a helmet than those who died of other types of injuries.
- In cases where the type of cycling activity was known, 63% of fatal collisions occurred during recreational activities, and 31% during commuting. The balance represented sport cycling activities, either solo or in a group setting.
- In 44 cases, contributing factors on the part of the cyclist alone were identified. In 33 cases, contributing factors on the part of the driver of a vehicle alone were identified. In 48 cases, contributing factors were identified on the part of both the cyclist and the driver. In three cases, the circumstances of the collision were unclear.
Our recommendations include:
- 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.