I saw a young lady jumping for her life just this past Friday. Sadly, the culprit this time around was me.
By Ben Bull
Published June 16, 2016
Toronto is finally endorsing a welcome, if somewhat tepid, plan to make walking its streets safer.
"Mayor John Tory is pledging to reduce pedestrian and cyclist fatalities by 20 per cent over the next 10 years as part of the city's new road safety plan," reports The Toronto Star.
The article goes on to say, "Sixty-five people were killed on Toronto roads last year, a 10-year high. The dead included 39 pedestrians and four cyclists."
Yikes! That's a lot of deaths.
It's nice to see pedestrians finally getting some love in Toronto, but this plan doesn't go nearly far enough. Calgary has committed to zero deaths in its 'Vision Zero' plan - why can't Toronto do the same? Isn't one death too many?
Walking around the streets of Toronto, I see near misses all the time. I saw a young lady jumping for her life just this past Friday. Sadly, the culprit this time around was me.
I was in downtown Orillia, making a left turn at an intersection. The sun was in my eyes (excuse alert!) and, after a five-hour drive thanks to an unsecured load on Highway 400, I was tired. The traffic cleared, I turned - then all hell broke loose.
"Watch out for that woman!" screamed my wife.
"How did you not see her!" yelled my daughter.
"Arrrgh!" screamed the pedestrian as she dived one way and tossed her shopping bag the other.
I pulled over and ran across, begging for forgiveness.
How many times have I been on the other side of this scenario? I wondered, as the lady screamed in my face. "Don't touch me!"
The poor woman was shaking, smitten with rage.
Well, why wouldn't she be?
The cops were called. There was no contact or physical injury but I knew what this lady wanted - recourse.
As we perched on the curb I reflected on my recent car-dooring experience on the streets of Toronto: Laying prostate on Spadina, tangled up in my spokes, cradling my bloody arm and screaming at the cabbie as he shrugged his shoulders and screeched away.
How come everybody gets to run away?
A nice police lady came by and took some notes, smelt my breath, checked my license and told me to go get a cup of coffee.
"Five hours is a long time to drive, sir – take a break."
None of this really helped my victim, of course, who was still shaking and searching for justice.
"What can I do?" I asked her, "Mail you a voucher maybe, buy you a meal?"
"No" she replied, "That won't help."
She asked me to help spread the word about road safety instead. So I wrote this article.
Perhaps RTH readers are the last folks who need to be reminded of road safety. It's John Tory and his ilk – Let's try and modestly reduce pedestrian deaths, yeah! - who need the smackdown.
I'm sure most readers of this site are more used to finding themselves on the other side of the windshield, wondering who the hell just tried to run them down.
Well, this time it was me.
And what have I learned from all this?
One death, one injury, one near miss - is one too much. Are you listening, Mr. Mayor?
Even good drivers make mistakes. Take your time, be alert, take a break.
Cars, pedestrians and cyclists don't mix.
Road designers need to do better. Unless we can slow cars down to a crawl, we need to stay apart - far apart.
Just one last word to Laura: I hope you're feeling better. I promise to take a break next time. And if you'll reconsider – maybe I can send you that voucher?
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