avenue road sign

Another cyclist dies on Avenue Road while safety plan sits in bureaucratic limbo

A 39-year-old cyclist was fatally struck by the driver of flatbed truck on Avenue Road in midtown Toronto on Tuesday afternoon, according to police.

The incident occurred around 1:23 p.m. near Avenue Road and Elgin Avenue, on a stretch of city road that some residents have long advocated for additional protections for vulnerable road users including separated bike lanes and wider sidewalks. A plan has been in the works, literally, for years.

The cyclist was rushed to the hospital but was pronounced dead shortly after. The driver of the truck has reportedly remained at the scene. Police reported that the truck was making a left turn into a loading dock when it struck the cyclist. Avenue Road, closed from Lowther Avenue to Davenport Road, has since reopened. Investigators are urging witnesses or anyone with dashboard camera footage to assist in their inquiries. Charges have not been announced.

It is the city’s fourth cyclist death this year.

Avenue Road Safety Coalition has been calling for a revamp for seven years. Streets of Toronto first starting writing about it in 2020.

In that year, former city councillor Karen Stintz wrote that according to a traffic study that was conducted before the pandemic, the 2.1-kilometre stretch of Avenue Road carries 30,000 vehicles per day, and 85 per cent of drivers exceed the 50 km/h speed limit. Compounding the problem is that the sidewalks are less than two metres wide.

Another 18-year-old cyclist was killed by the driver of a dump truck in Yorkville in 2019.

Former city councillor Mike Layton also called for a serious fix for the road in 2022, stating: ““We need to grow and evolve. Do we have to wait until somebody dies?”

In 2022, Brock Howes was hit at Avenue Road and Cottingham while riding his bicycle with a trailer attached after dropping his kids at school.

Avenue Road, Yorkville
A bike belonging to Brock Howes on the ground after he was hit by the school bus

“I was seated with one foot on the ground, one foot on a pedal. Usually I’d … pull out and use the road on the other side, but I saw the bus coming and was able to fully dismount and jump away from the bike as he hit me,” said Howes.

In 2017, Henry Wiercinski of the Annex Residents’ Association remembers the City of Toronto hosting a meeting about Avenue Road at Timothy Eaton Church. 

“When the residents looked at it, it was basically a traffic survey for cars. I don’t think they ever mentioned the word ‘pedestrian,'” said Wiercinski, for an article in 2022.

avenue road sign

Over that period, the Avenue Road Safety Coalition has continued to press the city, as well as new city councillor Dianne Saxe to do something. But it is taking a long time.

“The City’s Avenue Road study has identified serious unsafe conditions along this perilous stretch of Avenue Road and has indicated these conditions need to be corrected,” said Arlene Dejardins, of the Avenue Road Safety Coalition (ARSC), for a 2023 article. “We are looking forward to the implementation of Phase 1 of the plan as soon as possible. These existing unsafe conditions need attention now and, with some adjustments, the city’s plan is a very positive and much-needed step forward.”

So the big question remains how long it will take for the city to get serious about protecting vulnerable road users along Avenue Road.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO