January 17, 2012
The Honourable Bob Chiarelli
Minister of Transportation
3rd Floor, Ferguson Block, 77 Wellesley Street West
Toronto, ON M7A 1Z8
Dear Minister Chiarelli:
I am writing to present you the first 500 signatures we have received for our online petition calling for mandatory side guards on trucks in Ontario.
As you likely know, 15 to 20 cyclists are killed on Ontario roads every year. Particularly poignant is the tragic death of Jenna Morrison in Toronto on November 7th. As she approached a west end intersection, this well-known community activist was run over by the rear wheels of a large truck that was turning right. A few days later, a rally of 400 cyclists paid their respects and vowed to press governments at all levels to improve safety for cyclists.
As a result, the Green Party of Ontario (GPO) called on the provincial government to implement a 1998 Toronto coroners’ recommendation calling for side guards to be installed on all large trucks. Side guards prevent upended cyclists from falling under moving trucks. In the 20 years since the European Union mandated side guards on all heavy trucks, truck-bike fatalities have dropped significantly. Compared with saving lives, the $800-$1600 cost of side guards is small and for highway trucks the cost is recouped through lower fuel consumption.
We also established an online petition at www.gpo.ca. As you will read in our preamble, we offered to deliver each group of 500 signatures to your office.
With 80% of Ontarians living in urban areas, the GPO believes that the Ministry of Transportation has an obligation to improve the safety for the growing number of cyclists. With gridlock in the GTA alone costing the Ontario economy $3.3 billion per year, we believe it is essential to recognize that cycling and walking are important forms of transportation. The Green Party is calling for 1% of the provincial transportation budget to be dedicated to cycling infrastructure, with another 1% for pedestrian infrastructure.
The Share the Road Cycling Coalition has noted that the province already collects $20 million in HST in annual sales of bikes, bike parts and products. So it’s time for the province to provide financial support for cycling infrastructure, as well as to take regulatory action to improve safety for cyclists.
I thank you in advance for your consideration of these requests and would be pleased to meet with you at your Queen’s Park office at any time to discuss any of this further.
Tim Grant, Transportation Critic