A Chevrolet SUV struck a cyclist in the westbound lane of Hamilton Road west of Rectory Street in London, Ontario on Wednesday morning, June 19, 2024. The struck cycle is shown upside down at the upper left of this view, although the actual rest position of the cycle was likely not at this location/position.

Much concern was expressed by residents along Hamilton Road in London, Ontario when two fatal cyclist collisions occurred in June of 2019 and September of 2022. In February of 2023 a meeting was organized by the Crouch Neighbourhood Resource Centre in the Hamilton Road area and CTV News in London also posted an article entitled “What would make Hamilton Road safer?” Many opinions were expressed at that time and no changes have been made since then.

What has been obvious for a number of years is that there has been no official tracking of cyclist collisions in London therefore no objective data can be referenced in terms of finding safety solutions.

Gorski Consulting has been making observations of cyclists in London for many years but that cannot replace actual data on the numbers of cyclists being injured or killed and in what circumstances. In previous articles posted to the Gorski Consulting website we have demonstrated that nothing of substance has been learned from cyclist collisions in the past five years. We have also quoted research from the Toronto area which shows that only about 8 per cent of injured cyclists who attend a hospital emergency department are ever documented in police collision data. Even when police investigate a cyclist collision those findings are never shared with the cycling public who are being injured and killed.

With respect to the Hamilton Road community Gorski Consulting has provided some general observations of cyclists as shown in the table below.

Data from the remainder of 2023 and the first half of 2024 have been gathered but have not yet been summarized.

The Summary in the above table provides some important facts. Only about 8.5 per cent of cyclists observed on Hamilton Road were females. Generally it has been opined by researchers that the fewer female cyclists using a facility suggests that it is less safe. Data from Gorski Consulting observations throughout London in the past several years has shown that observations of females are in the range of 10-15 per cent. So the lack of females on the Hamilton Road vicinity suggests its lack of safety.

Another important point in the above table is that about 86 per cent of cyclists observed on Hamilton Road were not wearing helmets. This lacking is counter-balanced by the additional observation that 80 per cent of observed cyclists did not ride on the road. So, while it is quite dangerous for cyclists to share a lane of Hamilton Road with motor vehicle traffic, most cyclists use the safer option on riding on a sidewalk, even though riding on sidewalks is against the law in London.

Unfortunately it is apparent from the current collision that the cyclist was struck while on the road, although that information has not been publicly revealed at this time. Damage to the striking vehicle was visible on the right side of the windshield as shown in the photo below. A lucky result may be that the contact damage is to the windshield glass and not to the stiffer portions of the vehicle such as the right A-pillar or the windshield header. While the extent of the cyclist’s injuries is unknown at this time the visible evidence may improve the cyclist’s changes of survival.

It is too early to know the extent of the struck cyclist’s injuries although those are likely to be significant. This photo however suggests that the cyclist struck the windshield glass as opposed to the stiffer areas of the vehicle and this may be a favourable result.

In all areas of collision reconstruction investigators ought to become sufficiently familiar with collecting relevant evidence such that they should be able to document “points of mutual contact” as well as understand what the pattern of damage indicates. For cyclist collisions examination of any imprints and offset of the direct damage at the striking vehicle’s front bumper can provide partial information about how the collision occurred.

A detailed inspection of the striking vehicle’s front bumper and illuminate points of mutual contact that can be compared to portions of the struck cycle.

The damage caused to the cycle can also provide further clues. Deformations of the wheels of the cycle and to the cycle’s handle bars can provide further information about how the collision occurred.

Review of the deformations to the struck cycle can provide objective evidence as to how the collision occurred. Here we can see a deformation to the rear tire/rim although that deformation is not large in a forward-rearward direction.

While attending the site of the present cyclist collision we entered into a short conversation with a nearby London police officer. As a cyclist passed by while riding on the sidewalk we noted that this was the safer option for cyclists riding on Hamilton Road. This officer confirmed that no cyclist will ever be given a traffic citation for riding on a sidewalk in London. Whether that personal comment is accurate or not it reflects the bazaar, official stance of London police and the City of London. Cyclists in London are forced to ride in the dangerous lane of Hamilton Road because they believe they will receive a traffic citation if they ride on a sidewalk. Yet the unannounced official policy is that cyclists will not be fined for riding on a sidewalk.

UPDATE: June 20, 2024; 0650 Hours

Regrettably, the struck cyclist reportedly died. He is identified as 54-year-old Rafal Szabat.

The collision reportedly occurred around 0510 hours on Wednesday morning. Traffic would be expected to be sparse at this early hour. It is known that vehicles travelling westbound on Hamilton Road must follow a right bend in the road at Rectory Street and the collision would have occurred just west of that intersection. An example westbound view on approach to Rectory Street is shown below, taken on May 25, 2024.

This view along Hamilton Road is looking west on approach to the intersection at Rectory Street and taken on May 25, 2024. Hamilton Road takes a slight right bend at Rectory. Without further information from the police investigation it is unclear whether the road geometry might have been an influence in the fatal collision.

Based on past experience police will not reveal the circumstances that led to this tragic collision. This prevents the public from developing informed opinions as to how future cyclist collisions could be avoided.