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Toronto Trail Guidelines Should Have Saved Xavier Morgan

This may seem to be about a basic barrier on the side of a path but this fight is to ensure our children and all vulnerable road users have safe roads or paths to ride on.

The Martin Goodman Trail is one of the many multi-use trails within Toronto that offers all people the ability to enjoy bicycling without having to share the road with cars. To ensure the trails are safe, the City instituted a Steering Committee and Technical Advisory Committee to put together a comprehensive set of trail guidelines. The Toronto Multi-Use Trail Design Guidelines are consistent with City, Provincial, North American and International best practices.

Martin Goodman Trail Toronto

One of the guidelines pertains to the area where young Xavier was killed.

Guideline 6.4.1 “Trails Adjacent High Volume or High-Speed Arterial Roadways” addresses precisely what should have been done in the area where this unfortunate and tragic event took place. In fact, the photo used within the Guideline is that of the Martin Goodman Trail next to Lakeshore Road. Any road where the speed is 60 km or more or has four or more lanes is caught by this section. Lakeshore is not only a 60 km zone, it is six lanes and a major commuting artery into the City.

Unlike having the grass separation used in the Guideline photo above, the portion where Xavier was killed had a very small distance, approximately one-meter, between the path and the cars.

Bike Law Canada - Martin Goodman Trail Toronto

Part of the problem is that the grass or corridor separation is not attainable due the legion hall that lies next to the Trail. Therefore the Guideline states specifically, “Where an appropriate distance cannot be achieved, guide rails and a physical separation such as a fence or landscaping are recommended.” In this case, none of these exist in this portion of the Trail. The intent is obvious. Keep car drivers from entering the trail [rail] and keep cyclists from entering the road. Any safety design must be taken into account the frailties of the human condition including health related issues, inattention, or simple mistakes.

There has also been some recent discussion that the Martin Goodman Trail is not a place for children. The Trail Guidelines themselves state at 1.2, “All people are welcome on Toronto’s Multi-Use Trails regardless of ability.” Later in section 3 it states, “Providing trails that are inviting and safe for all users of all ages, skills and comfort levels should be the priority for designers.”

We fight this fight to ensure our children, and all vulnerable road users have safe roads or paths to ride on. “Providing trails that are inviting and safe for all users of all ages, skills and comfort levels should be the priority for designers.” Now, we must backup these priorities with a budget that ranks human lives over everything else. The time for action is now.

Credit: Featured photo – Bike Law Canada, 2nd photo – Toronto Multi-Use Trail Design Guidelines

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