Push for safety after research emerges on 131 cycling deaths in Ontario

43 per cent of cyclists were killed after being struck from behind by a motor vehicle

March 22, 2018

There were 111 deaths that involved a motor-vehicle — 43 per cent of which a cyclist was killed after being struck from behind. (The Canadian Press)

Researchers behind a London-based study are pushing for more education and enforcement to prevent cycling deaths in Ontario.

A team at Western University spent about two years evaluating pre-emptive causes and risk factors related to 131 reported cycling deaths in Ontario between 2010 and 2015.


Rebecca Henderson is the lead researcher and a PhD candidate in health sciences at Western University. (Submitted by Rebecca Henderson)

In 43 per cent of the incidents involving motor vehicles, a cyclist was killed after being struck from behind.

"This means that hitting from behind is one of the most dangerous and frequent causes of cycling deaths," said lead researcher Rebecca Henderson, a PhD candidate in health sciences. "Motorists need to give cyclists more space when they're on the road."

She said there needs to be more motorist awareness of the one-metre passing law, which is one of her many recommendations for creating safer cycling conditions.

"We also need to think about infrastructure in our city," said Henderson, who echoed a London cycling group's call to build a curb-separated bike lane along Dundas Street.

Henderson presented the research on Wednesday to the city's cycling advisory committee.

Cyclists under the influence

A snow covered bicycle locked outside in a storm. (David Horemans/CBC)

Henderson said both motorists and cyclists should take precautions before hitting the city's roadways.

According to the research, more than a quarter of cyclists who died were under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

"The message here is that cyclists are putting themselves at risk while using alcohol or drugs. I believe that it's important for cyclists to know the risk factors," said Henderson, who also recommended more cyclist education.

Henderson is also recommending that cyclists of all ages be required to wear helmets. The research said only 36 per cent of people who died when struck by a vehicle were wearing helmets.

There were a total of 165 deaths between 2010 and 2015 in Ontario. The team presented on deaths that were deemed accidental.

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