Toronto’s new initiative to provide safer streets for cycling and walking is a step in the right direction but
will require a cooperative effort from drivers, cyclists and pedestrians, says Toronto personal injury lawyer
As part of its ActiveTO program, the city is transforming some major roads into “quiet streets,” giving
people space to be physically active while observing social distancing protocols.
“This is a great idea, especially for an urban environment,” Goldfinger notes. “As a result of COVID-19,
there are fewer people taking mass transit. People are getting around on bikes a lot more these days,
whether it’s to commute to work, or for pleasure. It’s not a war on cars, but more of an evolution of our
Toronto Mayor John Tory says the city will soon have more than 50 kilometres of quiet streets, including
areas like Kensington Market and Havenbrook Boulevard, reports CP24.
Signs and temporary barricades will be placed on neighbourhood streets to allow local car traffic only and
open up space for people who walk, run, use wheelchairs and bike, states the city’s website.
Rules of the road apply to everyone
But Goldfinger says it’s important that motorists, cyclists and pedestrians keep safety top of mind and
abide by the rules of the road when streets are opened to multi-use traffic. He points to a Canadian
Automobile Association report showing that cyclists are more likely to be fatally injured at an intersection
or other areas where there are traffic signs.
“Cyclists don’t have ABS brakes, seatbelts, airbags, or reinforced steel to protect them. Even a minor slip
and fall from a bike can cause catastrophic injury,” he says, adding that each year more than 7,500
cyclists are injured every year in accidents. “Compare that to a car where there’s plenty of room for error.”
Goldfinger says most of the cases he handles involve cyclists who have been injured in urban
environments. Their injuries are often devastating and can include broken bones, fractured ribs, and
worst-case scenarios, such as head injury and brain trauma.
“There’s also the psychological challenges to grapple with after you’ve been injured in a cycling accident,”
he says. “Especially for those who use their bike to commute to school or work every day. Now they’ve
lost their mode of transportation because they’re afraid to get back on their bike.”
Bad attitudes towards cyclists
While commuting to work and cycling, in general, are often touted as healthy initiatives that are good for
our health and the environment, Goldfinger says there’s a level of hypocrisy around biking on the street.
“We encourage people to cycle, but once they’re on the road, they’re often not treated with respect by the
public,” he says.
Making matters worse in certain jurisdictions is that some police are not pro-cyclist, and are often quick to
ticket them, Goldfinger adds.
“I’ve seen a motorist hit a cyclist, and the officer gives a ticket to the cyclist. The cyclist fights it, knowing
they were in the right, and they’re successful in traffic court.”
What to do if you’re injured in a cycling accident
If you are involved in an accident while riding a bike, the first thing you should do, if you’re able, is call
911 so that the police and ambulance can be dispatched, Goldfinger says.
Once that’s sorted out, he says it’s vital that the injured person investigate any benefits they may be
entitled to as the result of the accident.
“Many cyclists aren’t aware that they have access to accident benefits if they’re in a collision with a motor
vehicle” through their own car insurance, that of the car involved or through the motor vehicle accident
claims fund, Goldfinger notes. “Even though they’re not driving a car, they’re entitled to car insurance
benefits under the law. They need to make an application for these benefits so they can get income
replacement, earner benefits or have the insurance company pay for physiotherapy, chiropractic
treatment, massage and attendant care benefits.”
For someone who is working at the time an accident occurs, and their injuries leave them unable to do
their job, their damages are also compensable under the law. That may be available through the income
replacement benefit or down the line with a past or future loss of income claim or loss of competitive
advantage in the workforce claim, Goldfinger says.
Moving cases forward during the pandemic
An experienced personal injury lawyer can help accident victims navigate the legal red tape to ensure
they’re getting the compensation they deserve and the treatment they need while on the mend, he says.
Goldfinger says he has clients who are currently in hospital due to injuries they’ve sustained in accidents,
and it can be tricky to get the ball rolling with their claims, but he’s finding workarounds.
“We’re doing most of our meetings by videoconference and get some help from immediate family
members who are allowed to visit the patient and can act as conduits to get documents or messages to
the clients,” he says.
Having meetings can still be difficult if clients don’t have the requisite technology, access to internet to computer savy/confidence to meet. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from trying to connect. The lawyers at Goldfinger Law are particularly helpful guiding new clients through using new technology. Phones still work too so don’t be shy!
It will still take a bit of time until things have completely opened up and people are comfortable in restoring face to face meetings for legal consultations. Given the pandemic, this is the new normal and everyone in the legal community is doing their very best to make things work during a difficult period of time.
Credit should be given to the Courts for showing a willingness and ability to modernize. Courts have opened up to electronic filing of documents, creative ways to get Affidavits commissioned, along with hosting hearings electronically as oppose to in person. These changes to the Courts will likely be with us for a long time; if not representing the new way of doing things.