Bike and Death in Toronto: In Memoriam D.A.S.

It is a sensational ahd horrible story: former Ontario attorney-general kills Toronto courier and father of four Darcy Allan Sheppard in an incomprehensible explosion of road rage. There is no shortage of coverage of the event itself. But if anything positive is going to come out of this event, it is the increased attention that it is bringing to the safety needs of urban cyclists.

Both the National Post and the Globe and Mail are carrying commentary from Yvonne Bambrick, executive director of the Toronto Cyclists Union. As she points out in the NP article, bicycle use in Toronto has far and away outstripped the capacity of the city's current infrastructure. Leisure paths through parks may look nice, but what cyclists need are usable safe routes for day to day commuting.

Bicycles are an incredibly efficient form of transportation: They have an equivalent gas mileage of over 277 km/L (653mpg), they are cheap, help you stay fit instead of fat and combine easily with other forms of public transportation. People have been rattling off these benefits for ages – but it's only recently that cities have started to take bicycles seriously as a mode of transportation (not just a fun thing to do on the weekend).

As more and more cyclists take to the roads, whe need to make sure that they have a space of their own. Toronto is planning on implementing a version of Montreal's BIXI bike sharing system. BIXI owes at least part of its success to the 700km of commuter friendly paths recently built by the city.

Montreal wasn't always such a safe place to cycle. I can remember more than a few close calls from the days when I used to weave through city traffic. My older brother broke his hip on one of the city's main streets. But from cycling around Montreal this summer, I can tell you that a truly bike friendly city is a beautiful thing.
Hopefully Toronto will follow suit.

This post dedicated to the memory of Darcy Allan Sheppard


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This is a blog for news and views on the future of sustainable cites. A major revamp is in the works. Until then I am keeping this version up as an archive of my past writing.

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You can also find my writing on urban redesign and sustainability in ReNew Canada, The Mark, Sustainable Cities Canada, WorldChanging, and other more specialized academic publications.

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