Utopia? Legacy of Gladstone and Queen

Two weeks ago, a guy riding a bicycle home to his family on Halloween day was run over and killed by a truck in front of the Gladstone Hotel, at the corner of Gladstone and Queen in Toronto’s west end.

The man on the bicycle, a father and a husband by the name of Ryan Carriere, was one of those people you hear about who ride a bicycle not out of need (he earned a good living) but out of choice: a choice to save a little bit of the earth for the future, to keep the air a little cleaner for everyone to breathe, and to preserve some of that oil (with its 12 full-time slaves per barrel) for more important uses than the daily portage to and from work.

It was the daytime, and the cyclist was killed by a truck that pulled him under its wheels. An investigation is underway, and the family is looking for witnesses (contact info here and at the end of this post).

Something like this happened less than two years ago, when another big truck ran over another adult cyclist at Dundas West and Dupont. And not many months before that, another cyclist was killed by a big truck on Spadina Avenue.

In fact, a report by the Toronto regional coroner in 1998 (which you can read about here) makes it clear that “38% of cyclist fatalities involved large vehicles … and that cyclists were 4 times more likely to be killed in a collision involving a large vehicle, such as the one that killed [Carriere], than in collisions with smaller vehicles.” The report recommended the government mandate wheel guards to protect the vulnerable.

Keep that thought in mind.

The full coroner’s report (read it here), also recommends a form of “law of the sea” apply to the city’s roadways. In essence this would mean that motorized traffic would yield right-of-way to pedal-traffic, which in turn would yield to pedestrian traffic.

In an article about the memorial for Carriere in the Toronto Globe and Mail last week, (read it here) his widow, Megan Holtz, said that her husband “couldn’t ride home without enduring a brief stretch of Queen Street West. He refused to cycle on the sidewalk and would sometimes walk his bike under the railway tracks near Gladstone Avenue.

“‘Pedestrians shouldn’t be forced off the sidewalk and cyclists shouldn’t be forced off the road,’ Ms. Holtz said,” according to the article.

Where are the bicycles supposed to ride?

According to the article,

Adam Giambrone, councillor for the ward Mr. Carriere lived in and chair of the city cycling committee, said that the committee has urged the province to take action on side guards for trucks. He added that the area where the accident occurred is known to be dangerous and is slated for improvement.

He also argued that, over all, the city is safe for cyclists. Cycling advocates are shaken right now, he said, but they should remember that the situation is always improving.

But [Darren Stehr, spokesperson for Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, which organized the memorial] slammed the city, saying it is dragging its feet on cycling safety and that many city bicycle routes are poorly laid out. “You try to convince a driver to use one of those [bicycle] routes to go from A to B and he’ll say you’re nuts. It’s like they gave a monkey some crack and told him to draw,” he said.

Ironically, the crash happened in front of the Gladstone Hotel, a hotbed of radical thought and a synonym for independent culture in Toronto (with daily events, lectures and presentations you can read about here).

In fact, in a terrible irony, the Gladstone is to be the site of a book launch in a few days’ time, next Sunday, November 20. The book is uTOpia, published by Toronto’s Coach House Press.

The irony is this book, which celebrates a “spirit of renewal” in Toronto (or some such bumf) and has a foreword from no less an eminence than his worship, the Mayor of Toronto David Miller, contains 35 essays and projects by folks just like Ryan Carriere: artists and poets and philosophers all, any one of whom could have been astride a bike in front of the hotel two weeks ago. An essay, “Toronto Islands: A Love Story,” first published here, will be among the 35 or so essays and projects contained in the book.

The irony is that the essay, like many others in the book, celebrates and promotes a life without cars, a life many of us are building for and hoping for, and a life which many of us believe is no “utopia” but in fact real, possible, and necessary.

Information on the book and the launch can be found here and at the end of this post.

Following is the call that has gone out to potential witnesses of the crash that killed Ryan Carriere:

If you were there, or if you know anything which may be of use to the family, please contact:

Patrick Brown
pbrown@mcleishorlando.com
(416) 366-6521 (direct)

McLeish Orlando LLP
One Queen Street East
Suite 1620
Box 76
Toronto, Ontario
M5C 2C5
Telephone: 416.366.3311
Fax: 416.366.3330

Here is Coach House Press’s description and schedule for the uTOpia book launch:

Something to add to your TO-do list.
uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto (eds. Jason McBride and Alana Wilcox) is an anthology that aims to capture and chronicle the wave of civic pride and enthusiasm that has washed over the city during the past two years. A compendium of pie-in-the-sky speculations and pragmatic suggestions by thirty-four different journalists, artists, thinkers, architects and activists, the book profiles Torontonians like the Zeidler family, a pair of Queen Street gallery owners and a self-proclaimed ‘infrastructure geek’ obsessed with sidewalk stamps, and considers fiftiesstyle strip malls, the TTC, gentrification, crumbling sidewalks, why Toronto is better than Paris and the perils of a car-free Kensington Market.

Playful, erudite and accessible, this book lauds, lambastes and leads the charge for change in Canada’s biggest metropolis. uTOpia includes two full-colour fold-out maps of perfectly utopian Torontos and a foreword by Mayor David Miller. Contributors include Howard Akler, Andrew Alfred-Duggan, Jacob Allderdice, Bert Archer, James Bow, Nicole Cohen, Jonny Dovercourt, Dale Duncan, Philip Evans, Mark Fram, Misha Glouberman, Chris Hardwicke, Sheila Heti, Alfred Holden, Luis Jacob, Lorraine Johnson, Edward Keenan, Mark Kingwell, John Lorinc, Sally McKay, Heather McLean, Dave Meslin, Shawn Micallef, Derek Murr, Ninjalicious, Darren O’Donnell, Planning Action, Barbara Rahder, Dylan Reid, Erik Rutherford, Jeffery Stinson, Deanne Taylor, Conan Tobias, Stéphanie Verge, Adam Vaughan and Marlena Zuber.

uTOpia Launch
Sunday, November 20, 2005
The Gladstone Hotel
1214 Queen St. W., Toronto
$5
416 979 2217 or mail@chbooks.com

2:00 to 5:00pm
Panels, activities and more. We’ll talk public, private and political space, hold mayoral auditions, ask you to redesign your favourite building on a napkin and give the CN Tower a makeover. Bring your kids!

8:00pm to midnight
A TOast and some TOmfoolery, featuring music by Republic of Safety, Free School and special guests, and much, much more.

Sponsored by Pages’ This Is Not a Reading Series, NOW Magazine, Spacing Magazine and rabble.ca’s book lounge.

One Response to “Utopia? Legacy of Gladstone and Queen”

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