When Toronto’s city council voted in November to make the new Bloor Street bike lanes permanent, cycling advocates were faced with a strange reality: Toronto is slowly becoming a more bike-friendly city. However, as more people opt to commute to work via bicycle, personal injury lawyers are bracing themselves for an uptick in cycling accident cases. For example, more than 170 cyclists have reported being ‘doored’ in Toronto this year.
Dooring is a familiar danger to all urban cyclists. It occurs when a motorist opens the door of a parked vehicle and strikes a passing bicycle, potentially causing serious injuries. In late November, Toronto’s public works committee discussed a motion to limit the number of dooring incidents that occur in the city. The motion was brought forward by Toronto District School Board trustee Chris Glover, who was himself doored in 2016.
“He opened the back door on me,” Glover told the CBC. “I hit the back door. I got bruises all down my left arm and left leg. My bike wheel was twisted.”
Though Glover was lucky to escape with relatively minor injuries, he was shocked to discover that the driver of the vehicle was not legally liable because the individual who opened the door was a passenger. Glover’s motion asks the province to add dooring to its collision reporting process and to update its Highway Traffic Act to make drivers at least partially responsible when a passenger doors a cyclist.
Whether or not these measures would make personal injury lawyers more capable of securing compensation for injured cyclists remains to be seen.
Glover’s motion also suggests new training requirements for ride share drivers; mandatory rear-view mirrors on passenger doors of vehicles for hire; the inclusion of the “Dutch Reach” safety technique in the Driver’s Handbook for Ontario’s new drivers. The Dutch Reach is ‘when a driver or passenger uses the arm opposite their door to open it,’ the CBC reports. The technique forces motorists to look over their shoulders in the direction of oncoming cyclists.
Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said in a statement that he is “open to any conversation that proposes to make our roads safer for all that use them. We know that dooring continues to be a challenge for cyclists on our roads.”
While Toronto and the GTA pursue policies to make roads safer for vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists, traffic injuries remain a common and serious issue. If you’ve been hurt in a bicycle or motor vehicle accident, contact the personal injury lawyers at Nanda & Associate today to discuss your legal options.
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