Register for Ontario VRU Stakeholders Meeting, Friday, May 3, 2019
On the evening of March 18th 2019, Mike Wilkomirsky was riding along Bay Street in downtown Toronto when a driver made an abrupt left turn in front of him, forcing Mike to hit his breaks to avoid a potentially deadly collision. As most of us would do, Mike rode up to the car to confront the driver on their dangerous actions, he yelled at the driver and carried on his ride, assuming that was the end of the confrontation.
Unfortunately, when Mike heard the driver slam on his accelerator as he was riding away, he realized it wasn’t over – the driver was going to run him down with his SUV. Mike took quick action and was able to angle his bike towards the sidewalk, turning just enough so that the driver ran into the back of his bike in a deliberate attempt to hit him. Mike was left with minor cuts and bruising and is now being treated for infection in his left leg, but it could have been a lot worse had he not been aware of the SUV coming towards him.
Toronto Police are still searching for the driver, any witnesses are asked to please come forward. At this time, we are unsure of the potential charges if the driver is found, but sadly, we have come to realize that whenever a car is the weapon of choice, our system cuts the driver a break.
James Logan was also run down by a driver who actively pursued him with his car, drove over him, took off, and left James with horrendous injuries. No charges were laid. However, through accessing video footage and a private investigator hired by us, we were able to track down the car, its owner and the potential driver. Although both are subject to a civil suit (paid and defended by an insurance company), the driver who used the car as a weapon will never be subject to any punishment.
We have seen this behaviour towards cyclists too many times to count, a recent Australian study had found that more than half of car drivers think cyclists are not completely human, with a link between the dehumanization of bike riders and acts of deliberate aggression towards them on the road.
A car is a weapon, plain and simple. It is a two ton weapon that can maim, crush and kill with a turn of a wheel. It is not meant to do this, but let’s not forget it is one of the leading causes of injury and death on our streets and it is doing this on too frequent of a basis. Our legal system has granted the car special status; it is one of leniency given to the offender.
Our province’s legislation does not protect our Vulnerable Road Users (VRU). While we have been lobbying to government officials for years, our politicians have chosen not to prioritize the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other road users that do not have the benefit of car protection. Bike Law Canada’s Coalition for Vulnerable Road User Laws has been working with MPP Jessica Bell on her Private Member’s Bill 62: Protecting Vulnerable Road Users. We are actively seeking organizations to join our coalition and lobby with us to demand our government pass this important piece of legislation. With the consistently record breaking traffic fatalities of a VRU each year, this legislation is well overdue.
A license to drive a car is a privilege that is to be suspended and permanently revoked if misused. Let’s stop treating it like it is an enshrined right. It’s not.
If you belong to an organization in Ontario that supports legislation for Vulnerable Road User Laws, please register here for our VRU Stakeholders Meeting on Friday, May 3, all are welcome.
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.