Healthy and General

‘Enough is enough,’ says Hamilton man after cyclist killed

4 min read

Tom Flood, a cycling advocate from Hamilton, said he was “extremely angry” when he heard the news Tuesday morning of a cyclist who had been killed.

A 52-year-old man died after a car hit him on the Upper Wentworth bridge, police said.

Const. Indy Bharaj told CBC Hamilton that officers received a call from a passenger in a mini-van at roughly 5:30 a.m. ET.

“The caller informed police that they were just involved in a cyclist-involved motor vehicle collision.”

When police and paramedics arrived at the scene, the man riding the bicycle was lying in the middle of the road without vital signs, Bharaj said.

He is one of 12 pedestrians killed in Hamilton this year, police said. The service categorizes all those who are not inside a motor vehicle as pedestrians, Bharaj said. 

In an interview with CHCH, Bharaj said police don’t know what’s causing the high number of deaths in Hamilton streets.

“We’re just asking pedestrians and drivers, just take that extra bit of time. And the pedestrian, don’t hope that the driver sees you.”

Flood said in a tweet: “A person riding their bike was killed by a driver this morning. And what do those who hold power and influence say live on the scene about the record fatalities?

“Nothing will change until we start taking about the root causes and not just asking people to be perfect.”

Flood said this case, along with the other deaths, is an emergency that “needs attention right now.”

“Enough is enough. Our children and community members are being hunted on our streets and what are we really doing?” Flood said.

He said he drives quite often but doesn’t feel safe while doing so.

“More importantly, our younger and more vulnerable do not feel safe and ARE not safe as we’re seeing.”

“A four-year-old was hit by the driver of a pickup truck yesterday — my God, four years old. What are we doing?”

Flood said authorities need to stop asking those who bike how to be safe and, instead, remove opportunities for drivers to hit cyclists and pedestrians.

“There will never be a bell loud enough, a helmet strong enough or clothing bright enough to make up for our poor infrastructure — and we all know it.

“We have an election coming up in October, so find the candidates that are working to make real change … and let’s remove the ones who want to keep this violent status quo.”

‘Saddening,’ but ‘not at all surprising’

Dave Shellnutt said stories like the cyclist’s death hit “really close to home.”

“I’m a cyclist. I ride year round. My kids bike to school. My dad bikes in the countryside … my friends bike in Hamilton. I bike in Hamilton.

“It’s saddening, but it’s not at all surprising.”

Dave Shellnutt, a personal injury lawyer who represents cyclists, says Tuesday’s death was ‘saddening, but it’s not at all surprising.’ (Submitted by Dave Shellnutt)

Shellnutt, a personal injury lawyer who represents cyclists, told CBC Hamilton that cases like this are “more common than we would like.” 

“The stats speak to a problem, a road safety problem that’s endemic in nature from injuries to people being killed. 

“The numbers are astounding, and the fact that we don’t have broad, collective action from the municipal to the provincial level on this is mind boggling.

“The municipal government can and does have the power to listen to the community and create safe infrastructure for cyclists and all vulnerable road users,” said Shellnutt.

On Wednesday, Hamilton city council is putting forward the Complete Streets Design Manual, which wants streets to be “planned and designed to balance the needs of all road users, to allow people to get around safely no matter their age, ability or how they choose to move.”

“The facts and data are there to back it up and the community is supporting it too. It’s a no-brainer,” said Shellnutt. 

The rights of cyclists

Shellnutt said cyclists need to know they have rights.

“The one thing we tell cyclists is, ‘Always assume that they either don’t see you or don’t care.’

“Cycle defensively because you may be in the right, but we don’t want people to be dead, right?”

Families of people killed while cycling also have rights, according to Shellnutt. 

“There are some immediate benefits you can access right away for the family, for funeral costs and psychological supports. Working towards getting the family compensation in as much as it’s possible to compensate them for their loss. But it’s woefully deficient in Ontario,” he said.

“Aside from compensation, they can reach out to supporting groups like Friends and Family for Safe Streets, Advocacy for Respect for Cyclists, and when they’re able to process the trauma, they can push for change in [honour of] the person they’ve lost.”