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Promoting Cyclists’ Rights in Ontario . Cleveland Bike Summit. Overview. Why are we here? What brings us together? The story of Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Greg Stobbart – his legacy How can we learn from tragedy? Our response:

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  • Why are we here? What brings us together?

  • The story of Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Greg Stobbart – his legacy

  • How can we learn from tragedy? Our response:

    • Focus on road safety issue: High Risk Driver/Repeat Offender Legislation

    • Build the “Share the Road Cycling Coalition” -- a grass roots cycling advocacy organization in Ontario

Why are we here
Why Are We Here?

  • A desire to share convictions and our passion

  • To learn from each other, build capacity

  • To harness our shared compassion for:

    • The environment

    • Healthy and safe lifestyles

    • Childhood energy

Organized compassion a powerful idea
Organized Compassion:A powerful idea

"Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only  thing that ever has."

- Anthropologist Margaret Mead

Organized compassion a powerful idea1
Organized Compassion:A powerful idea

  • “People in all types of work tend to enter their field with some type of dream - a sense of hope that by their labor, they will contribute to the benefit of some group in society…most of us really do want to work for each other. It's in us, in everybody," she said. "It may be buried, but it is in us.“

    (Dr. Margaret J. Wheatley, President Emerita of The Berkana Institute, a charitable global foundation .)

Organized compassion a powerful idea2
Organized Compassion:A powerful idea

  • “"The best in art and life starts from your passion," Dr. Wheatley said, "but instantly welcomes in other people's passion." Out of that passion, she continued, a structure will emerge - but it starts first and foremost with people coming together and sharing their concerns.(Dr. Margaret J. Wheatley, President Emerita of The Berkana Institute, a charitable global foundation .)

The roots of our passion for change
The roots of our passion for change

  • A tragic loss of life. June 6, 2006

  • A conviction that no other family should suffer this loss

  • A conviction that this was entirely preventable

  • A conviction that cyclists are not respected and driver behaviors are increasingly discourteous

  • An understanding that society has grown complacent with the level of collisions and fatalities

  • That we have raised a generation of children who do not enjoy the love of cycling as we did – primarily because of fear; a lack of planning, political will and infrastructure

Our story
Our story

  • Dougan case. Collision June 6, 2006

  • Driver had 10 year history: 5 convictions -- drive under suspension

  • 2 convictions drive no insurance

  • August 2006: charged with follow to close; vehicle towed from the scene

  • Convicted. Sentence: two years probation; one year license suspension

  • Appeal: October

Our response
Our response

  • “Be biased towards action” – Senator Kirk Watson

  • Raise awareness. Commence public debate on “serial traffic offenders”

  • Legislative campaign objective: reduce recidivism; save lives; provide officers with the legislative tools they need

  • Encourage preventative measures i.e. legislation, vehicle impoundment program

  • Reduce human and social costs

  • Ensure accountability

  • Remove/reduce judicial discretion

  • Honor Greg’s memory

Action plan
Action Plan

First steps: Media; Outreach; Research

  • Engage media: several interviews print; tv; radio

  • Globe and Mail (Sat. Sept. 29th)

  • Media covered the trial, response has been excellent; coverage is ongoing

Globe and mail article
Globe and Mail Article


  • A careless death:

    • When Eleanor McMahon lost her husband in a bicycle-and-truck accident last year, she was devastated, but forgiving of the driver. Then she found out that he had a staggering history of traffic violations, yet had been allowed to keep his licence. As Erin Anderssen reports, while awareness around drunk driving has improved, dangerously aggressive driving is an even harder puzzle. Ms. McMahon and experts say both laws and attitudes have to change. Is Canada ready for the expense and effort?


  • Engage the media in the debate

  • What media channels influence your key stakeholders?

  • Mainstream media in particular – powerful

  • Build the story – data, facts – coupled with the human face.

  • A powerful story

  • A powerful tool

Action plan1
Action Plan

Outreach: building the coalition of support

  • Politicians and political staff: Ontario Legislature

  • Key Ministries/Departments: Transport; Attorney General; Public Safety; Premier’s office

  • Law enforcement leaders: Commissioner Ontario Provincial Police; Regional forces - Halton, Metropolitan Toronto, Peel

  • Cycling Advocates

  • Municipal leaders

Action plan2
Action Plan

Research – a vital piece

  • Define the High Risk Driver (HRD) or Serial Traffic Offender.

  • What are the existing legislative remedies in Canada?

  • What are other provinces doing?

  • Six have legislation in place

Action plan3
Action Plan

Research cont’d

  • Addressing High Risk Drivers starts with defining the behavior.

  • Process: identify HRDs or Serial Traffic Offenders; develop measures to address them

Action plan4
Action Plan

  • A senior official in the New Brunswick Department of Public Safety developed the following in 2001:

    “I assume that a high risk driver is one whose actions makes the driver a risk to themselves or other drivers on the highway.”

High risk drivers canadian data
High Risk Drivers: Canadian Data

  • Road Safety Vision 2010: CCMTA

  • Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, endorsed by Ministers of Transport and Public Safety

  • Annual Report 2005

  • 2,725 road users were killed and over 212,000 were injured.

  • More than 18,000 of these suffered serious injuries

High risk drivers cost to society
High Risk Drivers: Cost to Society

  • Traffic collisions continue to be the biggest transportation safety problem in Canada.

  • Traffic collisions are a leading cause of years of lost life among Canadians

  • The annual economic cost to society of injury- producing and property damage traffic collisions is estimated at between $11 and $27 billion. (Vision 2010 Annual Report, 2005)

Research canadian data
Research: Canadian Data

  • The Road Safety Vision 2010 national target calls for a 30% decrease in the average number of road users killed and seriously injured during the 2008-2010 period over comparable 1996-2001 figures.

Canadian targets
Canadian Targets

Sub Targets:

  • a 20% decrease in the percent of drivers who commit three high-risk driving infractions (two if they are alcohol-related) within a two-year time frame

  • a 30% decrease in the number of vulnerable road users (pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists) killed or seriously injured

The case for legislation in ontario
The case for legislation in Ontario

  • 6 other provinces: BC; Alberta; Sask; Nfld; N.S.; N.B. Manitoba have legislation dealing with high risk drivers.

  • I reviewed their Vehicle Impoundment Programs

  • HRDs have been defined. We know its an issue.

  • 2003 over 18,000 drivers charged with license suspension

  • Link to Bill 203 in Ontario: Street Racing legislation

United states a comparison
United States: A comparison

  • U.S example, LA Times editorial August 2007:

    • “Road kill: Why are we so worried about terrorism when so many more people are dying on our highways?”

      (Gregg Easterbrook, Fellow Brookings Institute)

High risk drivers cost to society1
High Risk Drivers: Cost to Society

  • “245,000 Americans have died because of one specific threat since 9/11, and no one seems to care. While the tragedy of 3,000 lives lost on 9/11 has justified two wars, in which thousands of U.S. soldiers made the ultimate sacrifice, the tragedy of 245,000 lives lost in traffic accidents on the nation's roads during the same period has justified . . . pretty much no response at all. Terrorism is on the front page day in and day out, but the media rarely even mention road deaths. A few days ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that 42,642 Americans died in traffic in 2006. Did you hear this reported anywhere? ‘

Ontario legislative framework
Ontario Legislative Framework

  • Highway Traffic Act – Provincial Statute

  • Section 130 – Careless Driving

    • “Every person is guilty of the offence of driving carelessly who drives a vehicle or street car on a highway without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the highway and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $200 and not more than $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition his or her license or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years.” 

Ontario legislative framework1
Ontario Legislative Framework

  • Bill 203: Safer Roads for a Safer Ontario Act, 2007

  • Increases fines for street racers and aggressive drivers, including those who drive 50 km/h or more over the posted speed limit, to $10,000 and allows police to immediately suspend the driver’s license and impound the vehicle for seven days.

  • 5,000 charges since November

  • Results: fatal collisions down 40%

  • Message: Supports rationale for HRD legislation– and we hope, safe passing legislation

  • Legislation as a deterrent is effective

  • I am now starting to pull in partners who support this legislation: insurers; law enforcement agencies

A new voice for cyclists in ontario
A new voice for cyclists in Ontario

  • Environmental Scan

  • What mechanisms exist for cycling advocacy in Ontario?

  • Discussions with cycling advocates in Ontario, across U.S., Quebec

  • Travel to U.S., Europe: Netherlands; France

Origins cont d
Origins cont’d

  • Our argument: if they can do it there – we can do it here!

  • Increased emphasis on reducing green house gases, health care costs and obesity rates in children, the time is now to encourage and promote cycling.

  • There are excellent examples of both government-funded initiatives, and partnerships, with ensuing benefits to the environment, health and safety.

  • How can we learn from each other?

  • Let’s get going!

Building the coalition
Building the Coalition

  • Meetings with key stakeholders

  • Cycling Advocates

  • Politicians – 3 levels of government

  • Law Enforcement

  • Private Sector – including industry

  • Association Municipalities of Ontario – powerful lobbying organization for municipalities

  • Insurance industry

  • Private sector funders – co-branding partnerships

Strategic focus
Strategic Focus

  • The organization will be grassroots, membership driven and accountable

  • It will be funded by a combination of membership funding – individual and club members – grants, contributions

  • It will not rely solely on government funding and thus be independent from government

Building the coalition1
Building The Coalition

  • Cycling planning conference November 2007

  • 65 attendees – planners, advocates. Workshops, discussion

  • Strategic Planning Group: 5 members to move the agenda forward

  • Consultation with key stakeholders

  • What should the organization look like?

Building the coalition2
Building The Coalition

  • Elected President Cycle Ontario Alliance April 2008

  • Develop effective Board

  • Diversify funding

  • Hire staff

  • Build representative credibility, network across Ontario

  • Engage cycling community – “customers” in organization’s mandate

  • On-line presence

  • Re-launch Fall/Winter 2008

In summary
In summary

  • What brings us together is our shared passion/ compassion -- our dream to make a difference

  • Our task is to find to “common ground” with key stakeholders: law enforcement; political leaders; private sector and weave those forces of compassion together at the intersection of where their objectives meet ours.

  • This process is strategically and tactically sound

Our challenge
Our challenge

“If not us who, if not now when?” (John Kennedy)

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take. (Wayne Gretzky)