Torontonians who lost loved ones in traffic collisions call for safer streets

Dozens of families and friends turned up to a vigil at City Hall to call for safer streets while recounting emotional stories of the people they lost in traffic collisions.

Families and friends of victims wants safer infrastructure, harsher penalties for careless drivers

Families and freinds recounted stories of the people they lost at a vigil infront of City Hall Tuesday. (CBC)

Scott Morgan never wants to see another ghost bike for as long as he lives.

The Toronto grandfather lost his 5-year-old grandson to a traffic collision last May while they were cycling down the Martin Goodman Trail.

Now, he is asking motorists to be more careful on the road.

"All we can wish for is that people would slow down," Morgan told a group of supporters at a vigil in the Peace Garden at Toronto City Hall on Tuesday.

The vigil was organized by Friends and Families For Safe Streets to mark the one year anniversary of their organization which advocates for better traffic laws in the city.

Dozens of people gathered in a standing circle, recounting emotional stories of the people they lost. 

A large group of advocates stood outside City Hal Tuesday amidst cutouts to illustrate the loved ones they lost in traffic collisions. (CBC)

"Right now, [traffic crimes] are almost treated like this is a victimless crime. This is not a victimless crime. My dad was a victim. My whole family were victims," said Heather Sim, whose father was fatally struck while cycling home in June.

Vulnerable Road Users Act

She wants to see vulnerable road users legislation passed. 

The proposed Bill 168 seeks to amend the Highway Traffic Act to impose heavy consequences on anyone convicted in a collision that seriously injures or kills a pedestrian, a cyclist, a mobility device user, a roadway worker or an emergency responder. 

But David Stark, whose wife was struck and killed by a car that mounted the sidewalk, wants to see more. 

"We need lower speed limits. We need to have separate safe spaces for all road users and protected bike lanes; the kind of bike lanes with barriers separating them from vehicular traffic," the co-founder of Families and Friends for Safe Streets said.

David Stark lost his wife Erika Stark after a car mounted a sidewalk and fatally struck her. (CBC)

"For me personally, it's important that the driver appears in every stage of the court proceedings so that they're present in court to hear the victim impact statement," the father of three added. 

Last year was the deadliest ever for pedestrians and cyclists on Toronto's streets, according to police. Seventy-seven people were killed by drivers. 

Each death feels personal

Over 50 have been killed in 2017, the Families and Friends for Safe Streets said. 

For David Stark, each one feels personal.

"Those of us who have been affected by tragedy, who have lost loved ones or endured the trauma of being a survivor in a collision are triggered every time there is another serious injury or fatality on the road," he said.

We are deeply affected even though we don't know the people who have been struck or their families, we know what they're going through."

With files from Greg Ross