High Park has always been an extremely popular attraction for both those living nearby and those living the in Greater Toronto Area. As Toronto’s largest public park, High Park features 398 acres of nature and recreational space. There are hiking trails, an outdoor animal zoo, sports facilities, educational facilities, playgrounds, an off-leash dog park, and more. It also features a 35-acre pond called Grenadier Pond.
The park is located in the west-end of the city, south of Bloor Street, ending on the west side by Ellis Park Road and on the east side by Parkside Drive.
Every April to May, millions of Canadians flock to High Park to admire the 50 cherry trees that are on the property as they blossom. During Cherry Blossom season, High Park is closed to car traffic.
What Started The Conflict At High Park
However, many people believe that High Park should be closed to car traffic year-long. The tension between cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers is currently at an all-time high, sparking dialogue about how all parties can share the park.
Can cyclists and drivers come together and reach a solution?
Police Vs Cyclists
This August, police stationed themselves at High Park to monitor cyclist speeds and hand out tickets.
Many cyclists feel this to be extremely unfair and believe the long-term solution to safety lies in how the park is used, instead of increasing police activity or ticketing.
The police say that their approach to cyclist safety lies in education around speed and enforcing proper stopping at stop signs in the park. However, the police can use their discretion when issuing tickets to cyclists.
Many have claimed that the police are performing a targeted enforcement blitz against cyclists in the park, even though cars are responsible for more fatalities and catastrophic injuries.
Police Vs Car Traffic
Last year, there was a deadly car accident on Parkside Drive (just outside of High Park) that killed two people. Speed was a huge factor in the horrific accident, and since then, many have been calling for stricter speed measures. A speed camera was placed on Parkside Drive in May and issued 2,845 tickets that month alone. That camera accounted for 14% of all speed camera tickets issued in Toronto and was the highest ticketing camera for that month.1
Despite the issues between cars and cyclists in the neighbourhood, many pedestrians have complained about cyclists in the park as well. These complaints seem to be coming from families with young children, dog walkers, and runners. They believe that cyclists in the park are creating as much of an issue as car use is.
Cyclists In High Park Fight Back Against Police Presence
On August 11th, the cyclists who frequent the park had enough of the heightened police presence. They gathered in the park to protest the enforcement blitz. However, the police continue to say their presence in the park is due to complaints they have received.
According to Toronto Police Services, only 16 traffic tickets were issued to cyclists between January 2021 and August 2022. Comparatively, they issued 1,215 traffic tickets to drivers in and around High Park in that same period.2
The tickets issued to cyclists were for offenses such as:
- Failure to stop at a stop sign or red light
- Failure to wear a helmet on a motor-assisted vehicle
- Unsafe movement on shoulders or lanes
One cyclist was reportedly issued a ticket for cycling 6 km over the speed limit in the park. Additionally, one cyclist was hit by a police car that failed to stop at a stop sign.
This conflict has led to the city asking for the publics’ advice regarding the future use of cars in High Park. You can have your say here by participating in an online poll about whether or not you’d like to see High Park cut car traffic out of the park on the weekends.
How To Stay Safe As A Cyclist While Respecting Pedestrian And Car Traffic
If you’ve been considering cycling but are worried about your safety among the conflict in High Park and around the city, don’t let it stop you. Cycling can be a great way to get from point A to point B without paying for gas or parking. Additionally, it’s a great way to get outside and get active.
By refreshing your bicycle safety knowledge, you can enjoy cycling with less worry.
Our 8 Top Tips For Safe Cycling
1. Wear A Helmet
It is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself while cycling. 78% of adults and 88% of children who have suffered a head or neck injury while cycling was not wearing a helmet.3
2. Follow Road Rules
You do not need a driver’s licence or a cyclist’s licence to ride a bike, however, it’s good practice to follow the same rules you would while driving. This includes checking your blind spots, signalling your intent before taking turns, and being alert at all times.
3. Make Sure You Are Visible
Drivers cannot look out for you if they cannot easily see you. Avoid riding in a car’s blind spot, give them space if you see they are turning, and always make eye contact with a driver before crossing in front of them. Additionally, always wear bright colours and reflective materials, ensure you have a working light on your bike, and avoid riding in bad weather conditions where you may be less visible.
4. Always Be Alert
Pay attention to everything going on around you. This includes sounds, so skip the headphones or loud music when cycling. Pay attention to parked cars that may open their door suddenly and watch for lane changes.
5. Perform Full Stops
When at stop signs, traffic lights, or crosswalks, make sure to fully stop and look around before proceeding.
6. Avoid Swerving Or Frequent Lane Changes
The more you stay in one lane and be predictable in your movements, the easier it will be for cars to give you space and guess your next move.
7. Perform Regular Bike Maintenance
Mechanical failures when riding your bike can cause serious accidents, resulting in injuries and expensive repairs.
8. Treat Others On The Road With Respect
When cycling, be sure to respect the cars and pedestrians around you, as well as the rules of the road. This will reduce the likelihood of injuries, road rage, or other conflicts.
Injured By A Car While Cycling? Here’s What To Do Next
Despite following the above safety tips, accidents can still happen. In the event of a cyclist accident with a vehicle, the steps you take next are very important.
Depending on the extent of your injuries, you may not be able to take these steps, and that’s okay. Your health and safety are most important. Just because you were not able to do the below steps does not mean that you don’t have a personal injury case.
1. Document The Incident
Once you are able, if you are able, get up and get yourself to a safe location. If your injuries are serious, the first thing you should do is either call 911 or get a bystander to make the call for you.
However, if you are able, take photos of the scene of the accident. Gather any evidence you can. This includes photos of the damage done to your bicycle, body, and personal property. Take photos of the car involved in the accident. Write down everything you can remember about the accident, including the intersection where it happened, the licence plate number of the vehicle involved, and the driver’s licence and insurance information.
2. Gather Information And Witness Accounts
You need to collect the contact information of everyone involved in the accident. This includes the driver, any passengers they may have had, and onlookers or witnesses. Get their phone numbers and email addresses. Make sure to gather the driver’s insurance and licence information as well.
If the vehicle involved in the accident was a commercial or work vehicle, collect information about the business as well.
If possible and the witnesses are willing to cooperate, take down notes about what they saw at the scene. A good way to get this information from them is by asking who, what, where, and when questions to paint a full picture of what happened.
3. File A Police Report ASAP
If the collision meets the reporting standards set out by Toronto Police Services, then it is important that you file an official police report as soon as you are able. Any collision that involves serious injury, hospitalization, or impaired driving requires reporting. Clear instructions on the requirements for a reportable collision can be found on the Toronto Police Services website.
Additionally, if you are suffering from any injuries, it is important to visit a doctor as soon as you’re able. The doctor will be able to create a credible report outlining your injuries that can be used as evidence. Ask for copies of your doctor’s notes and make sure to keep your doctor updated about your medical status throughout the entire healing process.
4. Know Your Rights As A Cyclist Injured In A Car Accident
If you were injured by a car as a cyclist, you are eligible for something called Statutory Accident Benefits. You can still access the benefits even if you are at fault for the accident. Your injuries will be categorized as either minor, non-catastrophic, or catastrophic. This will outline which benefits you are eligible for.
You can claim these benefits through your own car insurance if you have car insurance. Otherwise, the claim must go through the other parties’ insurance. Additionally, you are eligible to sue the driver of the car who hit you for additional damages.
The process of obtaining medical benefits, accident benefits, or other compensation that you could be entitled to, remains highly complicated in the province of Ontario. The fine nuances within the Ontario Insurance Act remain highly complicated with very specific timelines and required legal paperwork. Cyclists that have been injured in an accident with a motor vehicle are entitled to benefits, but the claim process is best navigated through proper legal representation and personal injury professionals.
If You’ve Been Injured In A Car Accident, De Rose Can Help
If you’ve been injured, consider hiring legal representation as soon as possible. De Rose Lawyers is highly experienced in handling cyclist accident claims in Ontario and the GTA. Our team of personal injury lawyers is capable of fighting for the compensation that is rightfully yours. Additionally, we will help you navigate the complications of Ontario’s insurance system.
The injuries sustained in this type of collision can have long-lasting and life-changing impacts. They can alter you and your family’s life forever. De Rose Lawyers can handle your cyclist accident claims while remaining by your side throughout the entire process. We can and will help you get the compensation you require to properly heal.