cyclist deaths Toronto

Cyclist deaths skyrocket as Toronto debates the value of bike lanes

Two cyclists were fatally struck by vehicles in unrelated incidents in the GTA yesterday, bringing the city's total pedestrian and cyclist death count up to 21 for the year so far — and prompting at least one expert to call for a state of emergency to be declared.

"Tragedy on Toronto's streets, again. It's too much to take," wrote former City of Toronto Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat on Twitter Tuesday night.

"It's unbearable... The game playing - pretending we don't know what to do - must stop."

Keesmaat and other high-profile Torontonians, such as world-renowned urban theorist Richard Florida, were reacting to a day that started with the death of a 58-year-old female cyclist in the Annex.

The woman was hit by a flatbed truck while riding her bike near St. George and Bloor early Tuesday afternoon, according to Toronto police. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hours later, a 47-year-old male cyclist was struck by a vehicle on Elgin Mills Road East in Markham. York Regional Police say he was rushed without vital signs to the hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries on Tuesday evening.

Toronto Police also announced yesterday that a 36-year-old man who'd been hit by a car on his bike last month had died in hospital.

That cyclist was struck near Lakeshore Boulevard and Colborne Lodge Drive on May 15, sustaining life-threatening injuries. Police say he died on June 7.

Meanwhile, at City Hall, councillors were discussing a plan that would see more bike lanes and cycle tracks added to the northwest part of Toronto.

Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, who is adamantly against the $850,000 plan, spoke of a "crazy, looney cyclist" he had seen that morning weaving through traffic.

"It was a woman that was going to get killed because of her choice on how she was riding her bicycle," he said during the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee debate.

I do not believe bicycles should be on roads at all."

Toronto Mayor John Tory told reporters after the meeting that he did not agree, calling Mammoliti's comment that cyclists don't belong on roads "an outdated way of thinking."

"My thoughts are with the family and friends of the woman who died while cycling at Bloor and St. George Sts. today," wrote the mayor on Twitter. "The deaths of pedestrians & cyclists on our streets is deeply troubling to me. I am determined to do all we can to make our streets safer."

That tweet has since received nearly 300 replies, many in which people decry the mayor for failing to do so already.

As The Toronto Star reports, it was two years ago today that Tory announced his "Vision Zero" initiative — a plan meant to eliminate all traffic-related fatalities in the city by 2021.

A total of 93 cyclists and pedestrians alone have been killed on the streets of Toronto since the time of the plan's unveiling.

"Torontonians like to sound off on Americans' inability to deal with guns and gun deaths," wrote Florida in a Medium editorial on Tuesday night. "But Toronto's inability to deal with the car creates its own killing fields."

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