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Brown calls on province to pass Vulnerable Road User Act

The province needs to pass the Vulnerable Road User Act to ensure the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, Toronto critical injury lawyer Patrick Brown tells Beach Metro Community News.

Brown, partner with McLeish Orlando LLP, tells the newspaper that meaningful penalties are needed to deter drivers who disobey the rules of the road.

“Vulnerable road users need to be protected,” he says. “(This year) a 30 km/h speed limit needs to be implemented throughout the entire urban core and every residential area within the City of Toronto. That should be mandated with specific lights and cameras to have immediate access to people who violate rules so that they are fined accordingly.”

Brown, a cycling advocate and founder of Bike Law Canada, tells Beach Metro that drivers who hit cyclists or pedestrians frequently see their charges reduced or are not charged at all.

According to the newspaper, police data shows five cyclists and 42 pedestrians were killed in Toronto road accidents in 2018. So far in 2019, five pedestrians have been killed.

Brown and other safety advocates provided input for private member's Bill 62, Protecting Vulnerable Road Users Act, which urges increased penalties in the form of fines or jail time.

The bill also aims to enforce "meaningful penalties" for drivers convicted of causing death or serious injury to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists, construction workers or emergency responders, Beach Metro reports.

The proposed penalties consist of community service, licence suspension, and driver re-education, and would require the offender to attend court for sentencing and hear victim impact statements, the newspaper reports.

Under Ontario’s Highway Traffic Act, the maximum sentence for careless driving causing injury or death is a six-month jail term, $2,000 fine and two-year licence suspension.

While Toronto Council recently authorized the creation of 754 new Community Safety Zones around Kindergarten to Grade 8 schools within the city, Brown tells Beach Metro the number of bike lanes added is “minuscule.”

He notes that new lanes are necessary to prevent death and injury to cyclists.

“Separated bike lanes and putting space between cars and bikes is a key factor in reducing the number of cyclists being struck and injured,” Brown says.

Last November, the City of Toronto joined the families of people killed in traffic collisions to create a safety awareness campaign called the Art of Distraction, the article states.

Brown represented the families of Edouard Le Blanc and Erica Stark, who were featured in the campaign, Beach Metro reports.

Le Blanc, 63, was killed in October 2014, when a motorist ran a red light and hit him on the Gatineau corridor multi-use trail. The driver was convicted of careless driving and fined $700, says Brown.

“[The campaign] allows people to see that these are real families affected and a real life that was lost,” Brown tells the newspaper.

Erica Stark, 42, was killed in November 2014 while standing on a Scarborough sidewalk with her dog.

The driver of the minivan that struck her was fined $1,000, given six months' probation and driving restrictions, Brown says.

“This is not justice,” Brown notes.

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