How many tragedies do we need in Toronto before we invest in keeping Vulnerable Road Users safe?
Wednesday evening, a 5-year-old boy fell into the roadway while riding on the Martin Goodman Trail and died after being struck by a car. The death of a young boy is tragic and incomprehensible for any parent. Based on the information found in the Toronto Police Service news release, the area of the crash raises some very concerning questions regarding the lack of infrastructure or barriers in this area to separate cars from pedestrians and cyclists.
For many of us who use the Martin Goodman Trail (MGT) daily, we know the area well. One should consider the following:
- The MGT was designed and meant to encourage biking, walking, jogging, and rollerblading.
- It is a major active transportation corridor for families and others to access and use the many lakeside parks that connect along the path.
- Lakeshore Road is a high volume, multi-lane commuter traffic area where cars are known to travel faster than posted speed limits.
- It is considered an alternate route from the Gardiner and in fact, signage encourages cars to use it as an alternate route.
- The ramps onto the East and Westbound Gardiner off of Jameson and Lakeshore Roads are closed during rush hour times, forcing traffic to remain and congest on Lakeshore, specifically in this area.
- In some areas, the MGT is separated from Lakeshore Road by medians, park areas, trees, separate bridges etc.
- The area in which the crash occurred, seen in the CP24 image below, is of concern. It is one of the few areas that Lakeshore Road and the MGT are not separated by anything.
- This area of the MGT is also an area where two MGT paths merge into one area, thus congesting active transport users.
- This area is also atop Budapest Hill which is a downhill grade alongside a busy multi-lane road.
Clearly, a barrier in this area would have prevented this tragedy from happening. The costs would be minimal and now more than ever, it is called for. This is a high-density pedestrian/cycling pathway placed directly next to a fast car commuting corridor with virtually nothing separated it than some light poles.
It is sad to say that unfortunately, it is too late for this young boy, but it is time for Toronto to consider the safety of those commuters, runners, children and families that use the MGT on a daily basis. This isn’t the first time and it won’t be the last. It is time to protect the many users of the MGT, it is time to do more for Toronto’s vulnerable road users.
Photo credit: Featured – CP24, Bike Path – WATERFRONToronto
Patrick, of Bike Law Canada, is one of the founding members of the Toronto Bike Union (now CycleToronto), and is a former director. He is a proud contributor to Advocacy Respect for Cyclists [ARC] who have defended cyclist rights since 1996. He and his firm, McLeish Orlando LLP hold the annual Helmets on Kids Campaign in Toronto and sponsor CycleToronto’s annual “Get Lit” program and the City’s Bike Month. In 2013, the firm was awarded the Bicycle Friendly Business Award by the City for promoting cycling in and outside the office.