Road safety is not just about well-designed and maintained roads, and vehicles with advanced technology. The third component is the “Human”. Thus researchers have coined the term “HVE” or Human, Vehicle and Environment. With respect to humans we generally expect them to avoid collisions, but that is not always the case. Regrettably, on rare occasions, some deranged persons use the road environment to do purposeful harm. One example is the purposeful killing that took place on June 6, 2021 in London, Ontario.
After almost three years, the sentencing of Nathaniel Veltman has finally taken place. Some will remember that he was the driver of the pick-up truck that purposely drove on the sidewalk of Hyde Park Road in London, Ontario and killed an innocent Muslim family of four while seriously injuring a fifth member who was a boy. Large portions of his trial delved into his preoccupation with white nationalist websites and how he became indoctrinated, ultimately leading to his decision to harm Muslims. While his development was radical, it was not necessarily rare in the current climate of bazaar discourse on the internet.
At 30,000 feet, if you jump out of a plane without a parachute you will die. But there is never a survivor to confirm that this is true. So someone with a loud mouth, and a persuasive manner, raises the idea that this result is arguable. The same lie is repeated, over and over and over again, until many impressionable people become convinced: jumping out of a plane without a parachute is survivable. Meanwhile scientific experts who work in reality are less convincing. They are not in the business of persuasion and their technical discussions about gravity, impact force and aerodynamic drag are complex. Many indoctrinated persons want simple explanations and so experts’ warnings are ignored. This is the reality of this new age of disinformation that we coin Trumpism.
Trumpism is aptly named because it is akin to the word trumpet. Trumpets are those instruments that we can use to blow loudly. Whether just one trumpet, or many, they can be used to drown out any meaningful discussion. And those blowing the trumpets also cannot hear anything either. So it describes the relationship to Trumpism quite well.
In this new age of Trumpism we have also lost the meaning of words such as “bias” and “lynching”.
Bias has been historically understood as a position held or developed from a prejudiced viewpoint. In this age of Trumpism we no longer care if what we believe or say is incorrect, or simply supporting some big lie. It is more important that what we say supports what we said previously, and what others in our isolated groups have also said previously, regardless of whether anything being said is truthful.
Lynching is defined in the Webster dictionary as “Said to be from a Virginian farmer of the same name of Lynch, noted for taking the law into his own hand”. Lynch Law is also defined as “The practice of punishing men by unauthorized persons without a legal trial”. Lynching in this Trumpism sense can take the form of social media communication on the internet where groups attack others with words to destroy them, not much different that the actual hanging of an individual using a rope around the neck. Nathaniel Veltman most certainly communicated with persons who had no concern about bias or lynching.
We need not be neophytes to the issues at hand as history repeats itself. We only need to look back to 1933 when Adolf Hitler took control of Germany and how this led to enormous destruction across our planet. The Nazis had a very powerful propaganda machine that fooled many germans to believe in white supremacy and other policies focused on hatred. Nazi cults were formed much like what is happening on the internet today.
So we now have Veltman in prison for a very long time and, in a few days, the discussion about him will evaporate from the headlines. It remains questionable however, whether throwing him into prison solves our society’s broader problems. Is Veltman just a very rare bird, unlike any other, or is he part of a larger group of persons who hold similar viewpoints? You may have silenced Veltman but do you ignore the possibility that there are many undetected Veltmans out there perhaps willing to do similar evil?
Protest must be an important way for free persons to express their concerns in a free world. An autocratic society where protest and freedom of expression make persons disappear is not what we should wish for. However when protest turns to violence it is not always an indicator that persons have fallen off the deep end. Violence can be a sign of desperation from not being heard. So it is important to listen carefully to those persons who appear angry and could become violent. We need to know whether the anger is being expressed because of the existence of something unreasonable in our society and whether some form of change or compromise can be accomplished. Alternatively we also need to know whether those angry expressions are requesting something unreasonable where no compromise is ethically possible. We desperately need a Socrates to teach us this wisdom.
Gorski Consulting has been involved in observations and analysis of a variety of traffic units for several decades in the vicinity of southern Ontario. One of our recent studies has involved cyclists. It is accepted by many that the numbers of persons riding self-propelled and assisted cycles is expected to rise in the coming years. And a variety of infrastructure is being built to accommodate them. Yet little attention is being paid to cyclist safety. The vast majority of roads in London Ontario do not contain dedicated cycling lanes and this means that many cyclists can be expected to ride in close proximity to motor vehicle traffic for some time to come. Cyclists who are concerned with their safety often chose to ride on a sidewalk. Yet that action is prohibited by laws in London as well as in the Province of Ontario. Up to now no one has conducted any research in the London area to estimate the numbers of cyclists riding on sidewalks or to document basic characteristics of these riders. Gorski Consulting remains the only entity that performs this work. This article presents the results of our observations conducted during the years 2022 and 2023.
For the purposes of this study cyclists on sidewalks are those who are observed either riding or standing with their cycles on a sidewalk. It also includes cyclists who have discounted and are found standing with their cycle. Cyclists excluded from the study were those who were seen riding or walking within a pedestrian crossing. In the vast majority of instances cyclists observed in a pedestrian crossing originally came from a sidewalk however it was our decision to focus on cyclists who were actually observed on a sidewalk. Details about these sub-groups may be described in a future article.
The sidewalk cyclist data are shown in the following two tables.
The total number of cyclist observations conducted by Gorski Consulting were 1083 in 2022 and 983 in 2023. The reason for the smaller observations in 2023 is because there was a one-month period between mid-June and mid-July when observations could not be made. As seen in the above tables there were 547 cyclists in 2022 and 567 cyclists in 2023 who were observed on London’s sidewalks. So, even though the total number of cyclist observations were lower in 2023, the number of cyclists on sidewalks was actually greater than in 2022.
Looking at the percentage of female riders there were only 80 females observed in each of the two years whereas there were 445 males in 2022 and 466 males in 2023. This results in female percentages of 15.2 in 2022 and 14.6 in 2023.
Interestingly, the numbers of cyclists observed to be wearing helmets appeared to be greater in 2023 than in 2022. In 2022 388 cyclists, both male & female, were observed to be wearing their helmets while residing on a city sidewalk. However in 2023 that number rose to 421. On a percentage basis 73.9 % were observed to wear helmets in 2022 and 77.1 % in 2023.
While age is difficult to determine from photos of cyclists it can be seen from the above tables that the number of children, aged below 14 years, is low. In 2022 only 44 such children were observed and in 2023 there were only 47. On a percentage basis 8.4 % of cyclists on sidewalks were children while in 2023 there were 8.6 %. This is interesting because the City of London allows children to ride their bicycles on sidewalks.
Officially, we are told that it is against the law in London, and throughout the Province of Ontario, to ride a bicycle on an urban sidewalk. Yet more cyclists are observed on sidewalks than on roads. No one is acknowledging this large elephant in the room. In fact police ignore cyclists who ride on a sidewalk as they also do it, as shown in the photo below.
A reason why so many cyclists are seen riding on sidewalks is that they may feel unsafe riding in a lane shared with much larger, heavier and faster motor vehicle traffic. That conclusion sounds plausible and various surveys have suggested this is the reason. However no detailed study has been conducted on this issue in London, Ontario.
Cyclist injuries and the cause of them can only be described as a secret that is held by officials who have that data. Our previous articles have shown that annually about 120 to 150 cyclists visit hospital emergency departments in London however there is no publicly available information that describes why those visits were made, what types of injuries were involved or in what circumstances those injuries occurred. It is logical that many cyclist injuries may occur yet a visit to an emergency department may not occur because, or example, the injuries may not need urgent treatment. So the numbers of injured cyclists could be much greater than reported. The numbers of cyclists riding on sidewalks may be one indicator that cyclists may be sustaining injuries from riding on the road but, again, there is no useful data to confirm or deny this.
In a January 4, 2024 article (“What Has Been Learned From Five Years of Reported Cyclist Collisions in London Ontario”) we described that on 13 cyclist collisions were reported in London in the past five years. Essentially nothing of use was provided in the descriptions of these serious-injury and fatal collisions. Yet even these minimal descriptions provided general locations where these collisions occurred and lead to some concerns. The dates and locations of these collisions are noted below”
May 24, 2019: Adelaide St near Dundas St.
June 15, 2019: Wellington St at Horton St.
June 28, 2019: Hamilton Rd near East St.
July 22, 2019: Exeter Rd near Wonderland Rd.
August 22, 2019: Commissioners Rd near Andover Dr.
September 5, 2020: Gainsborough Rd near Hyde Park Rd.
March2, 2022: Trafalgar St near Elm St.
August 7, 2022: Sunningdale Rd near Adelaide St.
September 18, 2022: Hamilton Rd near Inkerman St.
September 1, 2023: Adelaide St near Dundas St.
December 1, 2023: Wharncliffe Rd near Riverview Ave.
December 8, 2023: York St near William St.
Almost all of these collision sites contained no infrastructure to separate cyclists from motor vehicle traffic. And the collisions likely occurred when the cyclist was struck on the road, not on a sidewalk. So even this minimal fact warrants consideration. A great deal more could be learned if information was released about the motions of the cyclist and the striking object but that has never happened. Thus, as we indicated in our previous article, nothing has been learned and future cyclist injuries and deaths are just a short time away.
Regrettably, news media reported that on the afternoon of Monday, February 12, 2024, a van-based school bus collided with an elderly pedestrian causing fatal injuries on Talbot Street in St Thomas, Ontario.
While minimal information was provided about the collision, a photo of the school was shown in an article published by London’s CTV News. Given the rest position of the van-based school bus it would appear that the bus was making a left turn from Talbot Street onto Manitoba Street when the impact occurred. Such left-turns are a real challenge for bus drivers. Roof pillars and large exterior mirrors produce visibility obstructions to the bus drivers. It is necessary for drivers to shift the position of their upper bodies to the left and right of the obstructions to see beyond them. Bus drivers are aware of this and perform this action successfully in the vast majority of cases. But eventually blockage of the line of sight leads to a failure to detect a small object just as a pedestrian.
In an article posted to the Gorski Consulting website (“School Bus Visibility Obstruction Could Kill You”) on February 17, 2023 we discussed this problem in some detail. However, as it occurs so many times, the content of articles on the Gorski Consulting website is not viewed by many and so this warning was mostly ignored. Many users of the public road need to be reminded of these visibility obstructions. Not just school bus drivers but also pedestrians, cyclists and any other persons that may interact with a turning bus. This includes mobility limited persons who ride medical scooters that are not high enough to be readily visible.
As mentioned numerous times on the Gorski Consulting website, serious and fatal collisions are never reported with enough proper detail so that the those using public roads can be educated about how and when their lives could be put in danger.
We have been here many times before: A family member dies and then police refuse to provide even basic information about how and why that death occurred. In a news article published by Colton Wiens of CTV News kitchener it was revealed how difficult it has been for the family of Linda Mindle after she was killed in an angle collision at the intersection of Wellington Road 125 and Halton-Erin Townline on June 6, 2023.
In a quote taken from Darlene Cyr, one of Linda’s daughters, the Wiens article provided the basics of the family’s difficulties: “We’re just left here with no answers and no justice”. Wiens also wrote ” The family said it’s been difficult getting answers from the OPP about their investigation”.
Wiens wrote: “CTV News reached out to Wellington County OPP for an interview but were told because the case has not reached the courts police would not be commenting on the investigation”.
Facts like these are repeated numerous times when serious or fatal collisions occur and the rights of family members are not taken into consideration.
A police photo of the collision site was posted in the Wiens article and it is reproduced below. It can be noted that the photo was taken from a long distance and provided very little information about what happened to the two involved vehicles.
In the Wiens article the Mindle family’s photo of the involved SUV was shown and this is reproduced below. Without substantial experience in vehicle damage analysis it would be difficult for anyone to appreciate that there are questions that need to be answered about why Linda Mindle died in this collision.
In a typical, serious, angle collision, in the vast majority of cases, there is a vehicle that has direct damage at it front end and there is a vehicle that has damage in its side. In a high degree of cases it is the vehicle that contains direct damage in its side that produces the more serious injuries. That result cannot be surprizing because there is less structure in the side of the vehicle that protects occupants. When we look at the above photo it is clear that the Mindle SUV contains direct damage along its left side and no such damage at its front end. So, from a preliminary standpoint, nothing should be of concern. Yet the pattern of damage is not typical.
A vehicle that us struck in its left side in a high-severity impact by another, light-duty vehicle, should exhibit the characteristic impression or “high depth of crush” caused by the front end of the other vehicle. In other words, the front end of the other vehicle should penetrate into the side and there should be a recognizable imprint of the front end of that vehicle in the side of the struck vehicle. This is not what is obvious in the above photo. A closer look suggests that the front end of the other vehicle impacted the left-front (driver’s side) wheel area. Following this the other vehicle then rotated into the driver’s door area and then likely made further contact toward the rear of the left side, as is typical. Because the wheel area of a vehicle is stiffer less crush and produced and this is probably why the imprint of the other vehicle’ front end is not that visible. However, even though there is direct contact along the driver’s door of the Mindle SUV there is no major intrusion (crush) into that door. And this result is common whenever the initial contact is made at the left-front wheel. In a scenario like this, the threat to the driver’s life is lessened. With proper seat-belt use and airbag deployment the likelihood of survival in this scenario should be relatively high. So what happened? Did something additional occur during the SUV’s travel through the roadside and during its rollover?
A single photo cannot provide the required answers to this question of why Linda Mindle sustained fatal injuries. Yet police likely have numerous photos. And, quite likely, police could have downloaded data from the Event Data Recorders of both vehicles. There is a lot of important information that can be examined from all this evidence. Even if the Mindle’s could not interpret that evidence themselves, they could retain an independent expert to do that for them – if they had access to that evidence. But as can be read in the Wiens article, none of that evidence has been made available to the Mindle family.
In these instances families of innocent victims are victimized a second time, by the agencies that keep key evidence secret from them.
What will remain of the old bridge on Cherry Street at the Toronto harbour after new bridges have been erected and opened to the public?
The new bridges are exciting to look at, as evidenced by a couple of photos taken on February 3, 2024, shown below.
There has to be a greater recognition of safety problems that are not revealed by official entities such as police and news media. While much attention has been brought to the beauty and features of the new bridges, nothing has been mentioned of the dangers that remain on Cherry Street south of where the new bridges are located.