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Toronto cyclist's death revives call for more bike lanes

Jared Kolb, of the Toronto Cyclists Union, said measures recommended in a 1998 Toronto report on cycling deaths could have helped prevent Monday’s death if they were implemented.

A 38-year-old woman was killed when her bike collided with a truck near a west-end Toronto intersection, leaving activists calling for more cyclist-friendly roads.

The death comes weeks after Ontario's Chief Coroner announced a probe into such fatalities, which will make recommendations to prevent similar deaths.

The woman, who was wearing a helmet, suffered massive head trauma when she was run over by the truck's rear wheels shortly before noon Monday, police said. Both had been travelling south on Sterling Road, about to turn right onto Dundas Street West, said Constable Hugh Smith.

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"In the act of turning, the truck brushed the side of the cyclist," Constable Smith said, adding it's too soon to tell if charges will be laid. "This is a totally preventable collision."

At the scene, the mangled bike was near a youth bike trailer that had been attached and a small child's helmet lay nearby. Police said the woman had been riding alone at the time and lived in the neighbourhood.

"It looks like she was an avid cyclist," Constable Smith said. "It's not a new rider that we're dealing with."

The truck didn't have a convex mirror on the right side, police said, which would have made it difficult for the driver to see down, beside the vehicle.

Jared Kolb, director of membership and outreach at the Toronto Cyclists Union, said measures recommended in a 1998 Toronto report on cycling deaths could have helped prevent Monday's death if they were implemented.

Looking into making side guards on trucks mandatory, which prevent cyclists being dragged under vehicles, were among the recommendations. There were no guards on the truck involved in the collision, Mr. Kolb said, adding he had reviewed photos of the crash.

Mr. Kolb said he hopes the upcoming provincial coroner's review may help resurface such recommendations.

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The bike union's founder, Dave Meslin, was at the scene of the collision for hours on Monday. He said more bike lanes are needed in the area. Currently there are some nearby on Dundas Street West but not on Sterling Road, where the vehicles were, he said.

"No one can say it would have saved her life," he said. "What the bike lane would have done, is it would have meant the truck would have been a few feet over to start with [and]would have been aware that there could be something on his right."

In a nearby bike store, employee David Woodward said even cyclists who didn't know the woman were grieving. One patron put off buying a bike for a few hours, waiting to calm down, in the wake of the news.

"People are definitely shaken by this," he said.

A memorial, where a white "ghost bike" will be placed at the scene, is being planned for next week, Mr. Meslin said.

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