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Toronto Commuters - Death Wish?

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Toronto Commuters - Death Wish?

Old 09-10-07, 08:22 PM
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diesel_dad
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Toronto Commuters - Death Wish?

I live in Victoria BC and come to Toronto for business once or twice a month. I am always stunned by the disregard for basic safety precautions that CYCLISTs show in the big smoke. Coming from BC, where we still have our share of unsafe riders, it is stunning.

What do I see?
1). About 2/3 of the cyclists do not wear a helmet. Does not get more basic than this. In BC, helmets are the law for everyone and we get at least 90% compliance. I have a big scar on the back of my head from childhood that reminds me to wear a helmet every day.

2). No lights at night. Perhaps 1/4 of the cyclists I see downtown at night have any type of light. No taillight. No headlight. Not even reflectors in a lot of cases. We Victoria commuters obsess about lights big enough to see the deer on the side of the road!

3). Riding on the sidewalk. Surprising number of people ride on the sidewalk on Yonge St. Does not get much more dangerous than that for peds.

You brave, intrepid downtown Toronto cyclists -- do not perish needlessly! Here is the link to Bike Sense BC: Bike Sense BC Forget that is says BC. Just good common sense for cyclists that will keep you all a LOT safter. Cheers.
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Old 09-10-07, 08:55 PM
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Sidewalk on Yonge?????? I can barely walk on the sidewalk on Yonge.

For the record, I don't live in T.O. but I spent about 5 weeks there in the past 3 years. I love the city! I probably heading back that way soon for my cousin's wedding.
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Old 09-10-07, 10:40 PM
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Originally Posted by diesel_dad View Post
1). About 2/3 of the cyclists do not wear a helmet. Does not get more basic than this.
Ever been to Europe? You're in for a shock.

2). No lights at night. Perhaps 1/4 of the cyclists I see downtown at night have any type of light. No taillight. No headlight. Not even reflectors in a lot of cases. We Victoria commuters obsess about lights big enough to see the deer on the side of the road!
There is part of your explanation, I suppose. No deer on the side of the road here. Usually there is enough ambient lighting to keep cyclists barely visible. Not defending the practice (in fact, I think very poorly of it), but might be an explanation.

3). Riding on the sidewalk. Surprising number of people ride on the sidewalk on Yonge St. Does not get much more dangerous than that for peds.
But the cyclists perceive it as safer. Again, I don't think much of the practice, but I can't get TOO mad at them, given the way Toronto drivers are. Yonge has really narrow lanes downtown and if you're a curb-hugger, taxi drivers will think nothing of passing you in the same lane with essentially no clearance. And most North American cyclists are brought-up to be curb-huggers in this autocentric world.

You brave, intrepid downtown Toronto cyclists -- do not perish needlessly! Here is the link to Bike Sense BC: Bike Sense BC Forget that is says BC. Just good common sense for cyclists that will keep you all a LOT safter. Cheers.
Puh-lease. There is no need to lecture to us. Get off your high horse. Toronto cyclists who read these boards are a minority of all Toronto cyclists, and know as much as you do about traffic riding.
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Old 09-10-07, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by chephy View Post
...given the way Toronto drivers are.
STAY AWAY FROM MY COUSINS!!! They are 21 and 19, the 19 one is a girl that barely got her permit...

I know, drivers are getting crazier every time I visit. I think it's because a lot of immigrants from 3rd world countries bringing their 3rd world (I know the term is not so P.C. but for my lack of better vocabulary) driving habits to T.O. Also, many new immigrants just got their licenses.

Not too long ago, there was a case a T.O. driving test officer was charged for accepting bribes in order to pass people. (If my uncle was correct)

I love Toronto. If it's an American city, I would've moved there already.
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Old 09-11-07, 05:14 AM
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Originally Posted by earthworm94 View Post

I love Toronto. If it's an American city, I would've moved there already.
If it WAS an American city, the folks in Scarborough would get shot at just a little more often

We like it in Canada thanks.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by earthworm94 View Post
I know, drivers are getting crazier every time I visit. I think it's because a lot of immigrants from 3rd world countries bringing their 3rd world (I know the term is not so P.C. but for my lack of better vocabulary) driving habits to T.O. Also, many new immigrants just got their licenses.

Not too long ago, there was a case a T.O. driving test officer was charged for accepting bribes in order to pass people. (If my uncle was correct)

I love Toronto. If it's an American city, I would've moved there already.
And the winnar for most ignorant comment of the day goes to...
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Old 09-11-07, 06:57 AM
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I don't know - but I have to disagree with you. Have traveled there maannnyy times to visit a very good friend - plus have ridden with a tour group around Lake Ontario to end up in Toronto. So I've ridden aroud there (Entertainment district) on streets and MUP and I have to say ---- I've not really seen the "2/3" population of unhelmeted cyclists - albeit I've seen some unusual helmets that I wouldn't have considered really safe - but it was something on their head.

Reflectors - I didn't see anything out of the ordinary as far as missing reflectors. Lights - in my many miles of walking and riding there - I didn't see anything out of the ordinary - meaning a great number ride without lights, besides if I remember right the streets were extremely well lit.

And sidewalk riding - I saw very little of that. Not like I do here in my city. As someone earlier in this thread pointed out - Yonge St is a busy sidewalk - I've never seen a bike on it - don't see how you could - and this is based on early morning riding - and nighttime riding.

Toronto is one of my favorite places.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:02 AM
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Did you ever try the ferry? I never got a chance, but it looked neat from the beach!
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Old 09-11-07, 07:14 AM
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Yes I did - I loved it! Probably ended up riding it on 7 separate trips (won a round trip ticket too at a sporting event). Being a commuter - I normally would take a bus up there - and have spent 1-1/2 hours at the border while going thru customs (nothing like having some idiots on one certain bus trip - where I rode with a guy whose only "luggage" was a TV - not in a box - turned out he had some prior warrants too, and one Asain couple - upon seaching their luggage they found multiple electronic parts --- all of which held the bus up as the border patrol sorted out those problems) - and spend a total of 6-1/2 hours on the bus - ugh.

As compared to 2 hrs, 20 min on the ferry in ... ahhhhhh ... lovely big seats, with the option of a 1st or 2nd floor cafe - both of which served alcohol (ahhhh, again) and movies and comfort - ahhh - well worth the $85ish roundtrip ticket. And the 1st "floor" of the boat - front of it was superb -- it was mostly all glass so you could sit in the big captain's chairs and have a wide open view as you sailed or landed. Only problem (other than some bad waves) with the boat was the fact that some families treated it like an encapslized baby sitting system - where the parents did their own thing - and the kids ran amuck. I do not have children and the fact of having these little kids tear through the aisles - in and out of the door that leads to the outside, etc was excessive at times.

It's too bad my city didn't do some better research on the whole affair - have already seen a book published about the nasty problems and why it failed, etc. Getting the ferry actually started some time ago - but we (taxpayers) didn't really hear about it until about 6-8 plus months before - and then all of a sudden - we're watching the movement of this big boat as it left port in Australia - making it's way over here. Supposedly where it fell down was the fact that their forecasted income was based on the trucks using it to cross. I think I saw a couple of boats on there one time - but they never got the commercial trade like they wanted.

And - it was supposed to have been able to run year round. Not so says the passengers who made use of the barf bags. It gets rough out there - I rode it in one storm - and was fine -- but I felt sooooo bad for a group of elderly women who were traveling to Toronto to see a play. They all sat/layed their heads down at some tables with barf bags nearby.

There is some talk; however, of the city trying to get in a privately owned SMALLER ferry company. Hope they do - we spent some big bucks creating the port at the lake just for the ferry - plus you guys have that up there as well.
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Old 09-11-07, 07:22 AM
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We didn't do much for a ferry terminal on our end. Pretty much just set up a customs shack and the rest was there already.

Was taking bikes difficult? When the ferry was in business, I was still driving... and for $85 I could buy enough gas to get 5 people to Rochester and back and have $25 left over for lunch. I realize that doesn't include stuff like the price of the car and maintenance and insurance but you get my point.

Now that I don't drive, I find myself taking trains etc for "day" trips and a cheap(er?) ferry would be a great way to get out your way and enjoy some of the country out there! I'm sure the ferry ride is more fun than a train ride too!
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Old 09-11-07, 08:06 AM
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I guess you haven't spent much time in Vancouver to see it's about a 50/50 split on wearing helmets. For some reason, the cops don't seem to be enforcing the law here on the mainland. It's a contentious issue and has little to do with preventing collisions or providing protection in collisions with motor vehicles. Haven't you noticed how many people die on bicycles in Victoria that were wearing helmets? Off the top of my head I remember that woman who was left hooked, was it on Craigflower? Has much changed since the law?

We also have lots of people who don't have lights and ride on the sidewalk too. Safety is all about how you do something.
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Old 09-11-07, 08:19 AM
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On the ferry, would've loved to have taken it but didn't - I don't drive, so like Brad it'd be a great way to get further afield and fast.

As for cycling in Toronto, meh - it's a big city, there's lots of good, bad and ugly drivers and cyclists alike - most of the 'dangerous' people on bikes I wouldn't call cyclists, they're just riding their bike from A to B by whatever means, sidewalk or whatever. These people would never be on a bike related forum, either.

Though like chephy I can't condone it, I can understand the sidewalk riding thing - there's no or little education available with regards to teaching both car/bike operators how to deal with one another, and the sidewalk, for most of the people I refer to above, IS safer - their speed is often that much different than traffic it might be dangerous to ride on the streets. Driving here is typical "always in a rush" style, and can be very intimidating, especially if someone isn't as stable or confident on a bike - so they do what they feel is safer.

Helmet wearing? Meh, I care about the kids you see not wearing them (which is illegal) - but that's the parents fault typically - adults can make their own decisions I figure, I wear one but that's my call.

Lights? Most streets and all majors are bright enough for no-light riding, that said I try never to do it myself (there are cases where my front light will die halfway home or something) - I figure that's a risk people accept (and clearly take) when jumping on the bike. Sure it's a ticketable offence, but technically so is jaywalking - it's rare to find cops that give a **** unless it's blitz week - I've done many technically illegal things (running stop signs, creep over the line waiting for the green to come, riding on the sidewalk, wrong side of the road trying to merge over to name a few) right in front of police and they've never said anything to me - I accept that if I'm in the wrong and caught, I might be reprimanded - it's an accepted risk that I would probably be pissed off with (at myself) though
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Old 09-11-07, 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by I_bRAD View Post
And the winnar for most ignorant comment of the day goes to...
I'm a minority myself and an immigrant. There is nothing ignorant about what I said, just harsh truths.

BTW, any more comments regarding the below content will go to PM, don't want to hijack the thread.

I'm not sure you've been to a 3rd world country (i.e. China) before. You can observe that drivers and cyclists alike over there (in general) have less regards to traffic rules and safety compare to North America.

Also, in some parts of the world like Hong Kong, people drive on the left side of the road. According to my uncle, it's not unusual to see people driving on the wrong side of the road by habit. My other uncle who is a professional cab driver in Hong Kong gone into a traffic circle the wrong way once, luckily there was not other cars around.

On the lighter note, please visit any Chinese restaurants in the Scarborough area. You would notice the noise level is amazingly high.

Also, T.O. has an very high percentage of immigrant population. That translates to lots of new drivers. Commercial driving schools are churning student drivers out at amazing speed which sacrifice quality and rigor. That leads to plenty of new and undertrained licensed drivers. My little cousin attended those schools and I can tell her training is nowhere near as rigorous as my dad was training me when I was 15.

People bring their way of life into their adopted countries when immigrated. Some things are good(awesome quality Chinese food or any other ethnic food, Dragon boats festival, interesting fusion of cultures and ideas...), and some not so good.

For the comment about drivers are crazier every year, that was an unscientific observation by gut feelings. YMMV.
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Old 09-11-07, 06:39 PM
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Woot T.O.!!! I've lived here all my life, and I think the cycling situation here is pretty good. Not quite enough bike lanes, but it's something. I live right on Yonge St, and it's terrible for cycling - either Purolator trucks stopped blocking the shoulder during rush hour, or, as above mentioned, cabbies who pass within 2 inches of you, but nevertheless it's a good city for a cyclist.
I have noticed that not a lot of casual cyclists wear helmets here, but all the serious ones (with road bikes or at least some proper apparel) wear helmets.
And about sidewalk riding, yes it does happen occasionally, but our sidewalks are so busy that cyclists can't go that fast, therefore not posing much of a threat. Ride on, Toronto cyclists!
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Old 09-11-07, 08:23 PM
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As I recall, the last five or six cyclists killed in Toronto were hit by overtaking trucks in broad daylight.

You perception of the risks here seems to differ from the reality.





Edit: Check that, the last fatality was hit at night from behind by a stolen truck.

Last edited by ghettocruiser; 09-11-07 at 09:38 PM.
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Old 09-11-07, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by airosen View Post
Woot T.O.!!! I've lived here all my life, and I think the cycling situation here is pretty good. Not quite enough bike lanes, but it's something. I live right on Yonge St, and it's terrible for cycling - either Purolator trucks stopped blocking the shoulder during rush hour, or, as above mentioned, cabbies who pass within 2 inches of you, but nevertheless it's a good city for a cyclist.
I have noticed that not a lot of casual cyclists wear helmets here, but all the serious ones (with road bikes or at least some proper apparel) wear helmets.
And about sidewalk riding, yes it does happen occasionally, but our sidewalks are so busy that cyclists can't go that fast, therefore not posing much of a threat. Ride on, Toronto cyclists!
You see, the thing is, cabbies see cyclists as a disease. Cyclists are, in their view, infectious, causing others to turn to cycling, reducing their clientele. Whoops! Taxis want to discourage cyclists or give 'em a hard time. Other times they are bored, or think they are gods on the road.

I saw a cabbie hit a cyclist, swearing ensued. A helmet camera, or other onboard-onbike camera would have been nice.

Delivery trucks on the College St. bike lanes? Sick and saddening!
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Old 09-11-07, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by earthworm94 View Post
I'm a minority myself and an immigrant. There is nothing ignorant about what I said, just harsh truths.

People bring their way of life into their adopted countries when immigrated. Some things are good(awesome quality Chinese food or any other ethnic food, Dragon boats festival, interesting fusion of cultures and ideas...), and some not so good.

For the comment about drivers are crazier every year, that was an unscientific observation by gut feelings. YMMV.
Im not an immigrant nor am I a minority, but i live in vancouver and I agree with you.
And yes its always dang loud in Chinese restraunts, why is that ? lol
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Old 09-11-07, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Jarery View Post
Im not an immigrant nor am I a minority, but i live in vancouver and I agree with you.
And yes its always dang loud in Chinese restraunts, why is that ? lol
Hong Kong drivers are OK. Mainland drivers, generally speaking, are terrible. As for the Chinese restaurants, loud is good: meals are social occasions, and loud means people are enjoying their meals.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser View Post
Edit: Check that, the last fatality was hit at night from behind by a stolen truck.
And as I recall, the cyclists DID have lights. Didn't he?
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Old 09-12-07, 07:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Maxximum View Post
You see, the thing is, cabbies see cyclists as a disease. Cyclists are, in their view, infectious, causing others to turn to cycling, reducing their clientele. Whoops! Taxis want to discourage cyclists or give 'em a hard time. Other times they are bored, or think they are gods on the road.
One time I yelled at a taxi driver and waved a U-lock in front of his face. He was scared. It felt so goooood... I gave him points for non-confrontational behaviour after he stopped though, and just rode off. Probably a very smart thing to do.

Actually lots of taxi drivers seem to just view closes passes as a norm. In their eyes, they're not mistreating you; they're just using the road space to the fullest. I had cabbies genuinly (or so it seemed) surprised when I lashed out at them for buzzes: "That's just driving in a city, man, whaddya want?" I wouldn't be surprised if it were genuine with many of them: most Toronto cyclists just shrug off buzzes (so do I most of the time..). Some Toronto cyclists, just like taxi drivers, view close passes as not very pleasant but normal as well.
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Old 09-12-07, 07:54 AM
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The only thing that bugs me about cycling in Toronto are the streetcar tracks. Especially when they're slick w/ water. All the rest you can control w/ your lane positioning.
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Old 09-12-07, 03:07 PM
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Good lively discussion. In a country with publicly funded healthcare, laws are passed for things like helmet use based on the costs of injuries to the healthcare system. Walking to my office today, I counted 15 cyclists and 2 helmets.

Most of all, I am just surprised that the level of safety consciousness in Toronto is as low as it seems...
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Old 09-12-07, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by gbcb View Post
As for the Chinese restaurants, loud is good: meals are social occasions, and loud means people are enjoying their meals.
Not really. Chinese in general speak loudly. Recently, China government issued an advisory to those who will travel overseas and told them not to speak loudly in public areas. Apparently, China government notices that the rest of the world has noticed.
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Old 09-12-07, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by diesel_dad View Post
Good lively discussion. In a country with publicly funded healthcare, laws are passed for things like helmet use based on the costs of injuries to the healthcare system. Walking to my office today, I counted 15 cyclists and 2 helmets.

Most of all, I am just surprised that the level of safety consciousness in Toronto is as low as it seems...
Are you sure of the rate of wear in Toronto overall, or just what you saw?

do you know the rate of head injuries to cyclists between Victoria and Toronto?

How about any difference between collision rates between cyclists and motor vehicles in Victoria and Toronto? Are they the same, or different?

do you know what the level of health is comparing cyclists to motorists?

I guess my point is, safety is a lot more than helmets, lights and sidewalks. Sure, these things help, but just seeing lots of that does not in any way make things safe.

Last edited by closetbiker; 09-12-07 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 09-12-07, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by chephy View Post
Actually lots of taxi drivers seem to just view closes passes as a norm. In their eyes, they're not mistreating you; they're just using the road space to the fullest. I had cabbies genuinly (or so it seemed) surprised when I lashed out at them for buzzes: "That's just driving in a city, man, whaddya want?" I wouldn't be surprised if it were genuine with many of them: most Toronto cyclists just shrug off buzzes (so do I most of the time..). Some Toronto cyclists, just like taxi drivers, view close passes as not very pleasant but normal as well.
on my way to work today i had a driver shrug me off, saying "i cycle 4 days a week" after i gave him heck for buzzing/illegally passing me. and as per usual my best retorts were about 10 minutes too late.

anyway, as per the whole "death wish thing", i'd like to caution against the notion that it's the people on bikes that are to blame, when it's the cars that will do the most damage.

and as per the whole toronto thing, the streetcar track issue aside, the fact that there are people here from all over the world with a vast range of traffic behaviour can't not (oh yes i said it) be an issue. obviously, stereotyping one group or another is not productive, but individuals still need to be made aware if they are doing something unsafe.

if you ask me, it's pedestrians that seem to have a death wish when they step off the curb/jump from behind stopped cars!
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