by: Begimay Koigeldi
A new study led by York University professor Alison Macpherson, with researchers from Toronto Metropolitan University and ICES reveals significant under reporting of cyclist and pedestrian injuries by the Toronto Police Service in non-motor vehicle collision accidents.
After analyzing the data collected over the five-year period from 2016 to 2021, the authors emphasize that relying solely on police data may not provide accurate figures for injuries on Toronto’s streets. The study compared information from three sources: Toronto police records, emergency room data and hospitalization data. While health services data showed more than 30,000 emergency department visits for cyclist injuries, Toronto police reported 2,363 cyclist injuries which is only eight percent of the total ED visits.
Courtesy Research Gate
“The police have no mandate to intervene when there’s no motor vehicle involved. So, of course the numbers are going to be much smaller. The purpose of our study is not to say that police aren’t doing their job but if we really want to get an idea of what the true burden is, we need different sources of data.”
The study also delved into pedestrian incidents and cyclist collisions involving motor vehicles. The Police data reports improved representing 54% of emergency department visits and 48% of hospitalizations for pedestrians.
While recognizing the limitations of the datasets involved, the study authors proposed the integration of linked health services data and police data to inform road safety planning effectively. The City of Toronto responded, stating that police data offers valuable insights into crash circumstances and locations, but acknowledged the importance of examining emergency department data for more comprehensive understanding.
Macpherson expressed hope that the study’s insights would contribute to making walking and cycling safer in Toronto, emphasizing the importance of understanding the true burden of injuries to create a more active, healthy, and safe environment in the city.
“I mean, the city has said they’re going to use the findings of our data for sure. I think one of the main takeaway messages is that a lot of cycling injuries are happening.”
Yagiz Otlu moved to Toronto from Turkey 3 months ago and currently rides a bike for Uber delivery. He shares his experience on safety riding in Downtown Toronto.
“Thankfully, I did not have any close calls or any accidents. However, I wish that there were more bike paths and smoother roads.”
Additionally, Yagiz mentioned that one of his friends got into an accident by hitting the side of a car with his hand, which turned out to be an injury.
“There was no police involved as my friend just went to the hospital and got a cast”