Coroner launches broad review of cycling deaths

Eleanor McMahon widow of George Stobbart

The office of Ontario’s Chief Coroner is launching a review of cyclists’ deaths across the province in the hopes of finding ways to prevent similar deaths in the future.

The news is a “very welcome announcement” to Eleanor McMahon of Burlington, who founded the Share the Road Cycling Coalition when her husband, OPP Sergeant Greg Stobbart, died after being struck by a truck while riding his bicycle outside of Milton in 2006.

“I lost my husband in 2006, so his death will be part of this review. This is personally satisfying,” she said. “I know he would feel very gratified.”

The review will look at the “persistent problem” of cycling deaths by reviewing coroners’ reports from 2006-2010, said Dr. Dan Cass, regional supervising coroner for Toronto West, who is conducting the review. A report is expected in spring 2012.

Cass said while he does not yet have a complete list of cases, there are 15 to 20 cyclist deaths in Ontario every year.

Too often the discussion surrounding road deaths pits cyclists, motorists and pedestrians against each other. “Stop the finger-pointing,” McMahon said.

McMahon said she doesn’t want to make any conclusions before the coroner’s review is complete, but she hopes the result is some changes to the Highway Traffic Act that recognizes the growing number of cyclists on the roads.

Hamilton was named a bicycle friendly community by the Share the Road Cycling Coalition this summer. McMahon says now municipalities need to advocate to the Ontario government to create a provincial cycling plan, similar to those in British Columbia and Quebec.

Article and photo courtesy of the Hamilton Spectator

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