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NEWS: Shock, sadness at cyclist’s death (July 2018)

July 18th, 2018 · 1 Comment

Tragedy results in memorial ride, call for greater safety

By Temi Dada

Cyclists gathered on June 20 at 6.30 p.m. to honour Dalia Chako with one final ride. Among the mourners at the ghost ride were family and friends of Chako, who was killed by a truck at Bloor and St. George streets on June 12.

Chako’s fatal accident was the sixth cycling accident in 10 days in Toronto, and highlighted bike and pedestrian safety across the city.

“I think at the end of the day as the city grows there has to be dedicated infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians, [or] you won’t be able to handle the amount of traffic a large city produces. It is better to get ahead of the curve before it becomes a bigger issue than it is,” said Skylor Brummans, Chako’s son. He believes that change is paramount for the safety of cyclists in Toronto and hopes that the memorial touches people and encourages them to be more careful on the road.

For others present at the event, protected lanes are not the only thing that will bring an end to the fatal accidents. There needs to be more awareness on the road and education for drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

“There is a serious divide between cyclists, pedestrians, and motorists,” said Robert Lawson, who has been a bike courier for about 15 years. “The city councillors and politicians worry about the popular vote; they’re not going to worry about the cyclist and pedestrian issue because there are more cars who pay more taxes. A designated lane is not a protected lane.”

Brummans added that “there needs to be some kind of awareness campaign to do that as well to tell people who are not familiar with it to be more aware when they open their doors or make a right turn”.

Michael Stein, a cyclist and bike technician, said that “education towards drivers is a needed thing. I have actually had a couple of discussions with drivers who have almost hit me and they didn’t understand the rules.

“They didn’t know [cyclists] are meant to be on the road, but sometimes when you explain the rules to them they understand. There should be awareness for cyclists too because there are some crazy cyclists out there as well.”

Stein, who has been a cyclist in cities like Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Winnipeg, said that he and his cyclist friends call cycling in Toronto “horizontal skydiving”.

He has had his fair share of bad experiences with drivers in Toronto, where a driver once used his car as a weapon to push him and his bike off the road. Experiences like that and the sudden spurt of accidents prompted him to start wearing a GoPro camera on his head while cycling.

“Over the last couple of weeks I would say [fear for safety on the road] has gotten worse,” Stein said. “I would say Toronto is the scariest city I have biked in. I don’t think the police keep drivers accountable and I don’t think they hold cyclists accountable also; there are some crazy cyclists out there as well.”

He also believes that inclusion of more protected bike lanes would help to make cyclists feel safer on the road.

The Toronto Police Service is still investigating the accident and no charges have been laid so far.

The intersection remains a memorial to Chako: flowers started appearing the day after the accident and a white ghost bike was placed in her memory near the street.



EDITORIAL: City staff ignore bike lanes (July 2018)

NEWS: Bike lanes (March 2018)

CHATTER: Cyclists prey for open doors (Dec. 2017)

NEWS (Nov. 2017): Pilot project becomes permanent

NEWS: Here to stay? (Oct. 2017)

FORUM: A magical new supply of parking spots (October 2017)

EDITORIAL (FALL 2017): Bike lanes, good for business

CHATTER (MARCH 2017): Preliminary data on Bloor Street pilot bike lane released

CHATTER: Ground-breaking bike lanes launch on Bloor Street (August 2016)

NEWS: Bikes blessed for another season (June 2016)

FOCUS: An early advocate for bike lanes (June 2016)

NEWS: Bike lanes for Bloor Street (May 2016)

The faster we lower speeds, the more lives we save (October 2015)

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