high park cyclists

Toronto woman says there are too many near misses between cyclists and pedestrians

After witnessing a cyclist hit a young girl on a bike in High Park, a Toronto woman launched a petition to make the trails and lanes safer for cyclists and pedestrians.

Coline Berbesson started the petition, Let's make High Park and Martin Goodman Trail SAFER for everyone (pedestrians & cyclists) after witnessing too many near misses on the trails.

"Every week, many incidents occur on the High Park grounds and on Martin Goodman Trail," Berbesson says in the petition. "These are the results of cyclists and pedestrians not respecting the rules. We should not wait for a fatal accident to make changes."

high park cyclistsOn June 26, Berbesson says she saw a little girl on a bike hit by a cyclist in High Park. A cyclist arrived too fast, the girl panicked and hit the back wheel of the cyclist. She fell and hit her head on the pavement. She was wearing a helmet and not injured but the incident left Berbesson angry and she launched the petition the same day.

"I was so pissed off, I was scared," she says.

As of July 7, the petition had around 850 signatures, nearly reaching its 1,000 signature goal.

Berbesson tells blogTO she walks in High Park every day with her son in a stroller and sees the near misses. The same issues are happening on the Martin Goodman Trail where pedestrians have to run to cross the trail.

"The cyclists are going way too fast," she says. "It's too dangerous."

The fix is simple and not expensive — painting fast and slow lanes like in a swimming pool on the road and adding educational signage. She also suggests designating a time for cyclists to train early in the morning.

On the weekend when High Park is closed to cars, cyclists are often going over 20 kilometres an hour and people are all over the road.

"There are no rules."

Berbesson says she is not against cyclists and has been talking with cyclists to find a solution for everyone.

"Cyclists don't have the right infrastructure to practice," she says.

One cyclist she has been speaking with tells blogTO he doesn't agree with everything in the petition but says he and Berbesson have the same overall goals.

"Everybody wants to make it safer for everyone," David, who asked to use his first name only, tells blogTO.

Plans to get people active with trails were good but right now cyclists, kids and pedestrians are all using the same loop in High Park and Martin Goodman Trail, he says.

"The city needs to take a closer look at multiple infrastructures for multiple purposes or multiple uses," he says.

He would like to see a dedicated space for cyclists training for races. There are pedestrians, rollerbladers, joggers, and people with kids in strollers on Martin Goodman Trail right now.

"Martin Goodman trail is a deathtrap for cyclists."

He would like to see the right-hand lane on Lake Shore converted into a cyclist and transit lane.

Since launching the petition, Berbesson heard from Toronto City Councillor Gord Perks who told her people can complain to police. The more people complain, the more likely the city will take action.

The city also launched a survey to improve the travel network for High Park, and people are invited to take part in the study. But no changes will be made until at least 2023, and for Berbesson that will be too late.

"We cannot wait any longer to make High Park and Martin Goodman Trail safe and enjoyable places for all."

Lead photo by

Scott Snider

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