When a cyclist is killed in Jane Pitfield’s ward, does it make a sound?

The Toronto Star had this dry little note the other day:

Cyclist killed by collision with cement truck

Sep. 12, 2006. 02:04 AM

A 47-year-old male cyclist is dead after being hit by a cement truck in the city’s north-end Monday afternoon.

The man, whose identity is not being released, was riding his bicycle west in the curb lane of Eglinton Ave. E. near Leslie St. when he was hit by the cement truck going in the same direction around 4:30 p.m., Toronto police said.

The man was taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries where he later died, police said.

Toronto Traffic Services is investigating the scene and no other details have been released at this time.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-1900 or Crime Stoppers at 416-222-TIPS

We find ourselves wondering, what is it to “collide” with a cement mixer? It must be a little like colliding with the earth itself, after a long fall. We can only hope that for the cyclist, who for the time being remains nameless except to the investigating officers and to his family, it was as brief a moment of pain as possible. The story says he “succumbed to his injuries” in the hospital; it is to be hoped that in the meantime he never regained consciousness, or if he did, the shock of his experience prevented his feeling any pain.

Sadly, the pain of those who remain behind is not so easy to erase, much as it is to be wished away. We are reminded of the driver of the garbage truck who, carrying about his appointed rounds in the west end of the city a little over a year ago, drove westward into the sun and into the path of a child riding home after visiting a friend’s house.

They say he had to be literally dragged from the site at 11 pm the next night by his family. They say he was in the hospital on a suicide watch. The plot thickens with the fact that he’s a new father, with an infant son.

It cannot be easy to forget when one’s actions are directly responsible for the death of another human being. It is not for no reason we have a crime called “manslaughter.”

We hope the driver on Eglinton Ave. has resources for the help he or she will need.

We hope the family of the cyclist has resources for the help they will need.

But we know one thing. We know that cyclists have resources for the help they need. If we work together we can see to it that the dangerous conditions we experience every single time we take to the streets are ameliorated. We know that, as surely as we know the location of this crash, on Eglinton at Leslie, is within the boundaries of Toronto City Councillor Jane Pitfield‘s ward. We know this as surely as we know that Pitfield is the lone aspirant for the office of mayor in this fall’s election given any hope of victory against incumbent Mayor David Miller.

We have seen and heard both these two candidates pay lipservice to the needs of bicycle safety. We have seen them on their own steeds, participating in the annual “ride for pancakes” that that converges at city hall at the start of bikeweek.

Now is the chance for them to show they can bike the bike, not just talk the talk.

For this death, like the two cyclist deaths that happened on the same day earlier this year, ought not to have happened. It was, in the words of our man Blobby, “Eminently preventable.”

We gather from the information available that the collision happened when the cement mixer engulfed the cyclist in its undercarriage, from the side. We gather that once again (this is the third cyclist killed in Toronto this year, the third by large truck, the third in which a side swipe and swallowing by the void under the truck’s wheels was death’s delivery method), once again the cyclist in question would be alive still if the trucking industry had been brought into line by legislation mandating “sideguards on large trucks,” as “recommended” so many god damned years ago by the Toronto regional coroner, Dr W.J. Lucas.

Our friends in the cycling community will gather to mourn the loss of a fellow cyclist for the third time this year. Please turn to the webpage of Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists for specific information, but the memorial is to take place at the place the cyclist was killed, seven days after the crash that took his life.

Bring flowers. Bring anger. Bring resolve.

5 Responses to “When a cyclist is killed in Jane Pitfield’s ward, does it make a sound?”


    About a dozen of us braved the cold rainy night to ride into the deathtrap at Eglinton and Leslie. You can see images at Martino's Bikelane Diary and at Toronto Cranks.

    A couple tv cameras showed up and spent a long time filming us as we waded into the curblane with our banner: "A Cyclist was Killed here last week" and our fluttering candles. Some of us turned on the news that night to see if we made the cut, but it does not appear that we did.

    The big news that night was not a gang of unruly mourners standing in the rain, but the two contenders for mayor, David Miller and Jane Pitfield, mugging for their own share of the spotlight in a debate held at the University of Toronto.

    Did we mention this collision, the one that killed the cyclist on Eglinton at Leslie, took place in Jane Pitfield's ward? Did we mention the fact that a simple device guarding the space between the wheels on the truck would likely have spared the cyclist's life? Did we mention these guards have been mandated for years in Europe, and were specificlly recommended by the Toronto Coroner in a report issued nine years ago?

    Yeah, I know we did.

    It was shitty, there in the rain at Eglinton and Leslie. But I would rather have been there than sitting cozy in the audience at the mayoral debate. I only wish I could figure out some way to put the issue on the agenda at the next one.

    A friend drew up the appropriate scenario:

    But if it were a movie, Jimmy Stewart, not M. Ghandi, would lead a peloton of citizen cyclists onto Queens Park Circle. He'd shout, "These are our roads and they aren't going to take them away from us this time!". The film's car wranglers would create automotive chaos in back of the bikes for the cameras as the cops scrambled in front to block their path. A solid cordon of police prevents forward movement then, and Jimmy Stewart cries, "Everyone stick together now and put your bkes down and sit on the road! We haven't broken any laws, they'll have to haul us away!". His best girl pleads with her father the minister of transport and makes him recant his libertarian pro-business past and he immediately drafts a bill requiring sideguards on all rucks. He introduces it to the house, cut to the girl as she bails Jimmy and his mates out of jail and the now friendly cops shake hands with them as they leave.

  2. Spin says:

    Nice one, Mr. A. Have either of these candidates for Mayor said anything coherent about road safety, particularly as it relates to vulnerable road users like bicyclists?


    I suspect they would say they have more important things to do than worry about bicycle riders and pedestrian issues.

    However, it may be germaine that a google of "Jane Pitfield" gives you BikeToronto's rating of her among the first five hits. I suggest cyclists are among the most active of the city's constituents.

    A google of "mayor david miller" does not yield anything like the same results. I am not sure what this means.

  4. mysamantha says:

    That was my dad. I appreciate your effort to bring the public news. But I do belive you should have asked me and my family first also another one of the bicyclists was my friends dad. They both had families and children and if you think for one second that they are the ones who caused they're own accidents then you have made a huge mistake! Truck drivers are not careful I have almost been hit or seen accidents with trucks. My dad was the most careful bicyclist in the world. And you want to know what hurts the most? Is to find out your own father is dead. To have no one there to be with him that he knew to help him get through the pain. They say time heals everything well that's not true. Time won't heal the loss of my dad.


    Hi Samantha,
    Sorry not to have gotten back sooner. I am out of the habit of writing for my blog and so I don't check for comments that often anymore.

    Anyway, I will post your comment, but I wanted to make a separate note to you because your message touched me and made me feel quite sad. I don't want you to think in anyway I was judging your father's cycling skills in my post--in any case I know next to nothing about what happened. I am a member of a Toronto group called Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists (ARC) and as I recall when we held the cyclist's memorial for your dad (as we do for every cyclist killed on the roads in Toronto) we did try to get in touch with the family, but not sure we were successful.

    Like you I have had many close calls on bicycles, and know from first-hand experience that trucks are not safe things to be around on the roads. In fact one of the main things ARC has fought for (with little success, unfortunately) is for Transport Canada to mandate sideguards on trucks, which would prevent a cyclist (or a pedestrian) from being pulled under the wheels of a truck. Who knows, if the truck that killed your father had had a sideguard he might be alive today.

    Anyway, Thanks for your comment and again, sorry for any misunderstanding or pain my writing may have caused.


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