By Kirsten McMahon
Although messaging from provincial governments COVID-19 is shifting from “stay home” to “stay apart” and portions of the country begin to re-open, pedestrian, cyclist and driver safety should still be top of mind, says Easy Legal Group of Companies President and CEO Larry Herscu.
“The coronavirus pandemic has changed how we go about everyday activities. Life is going to be different and we have to be ready for it,” says Herscu. “That said, being hypervigilant against the virus shouldn’t come at the expense of other, long-standing safety measures.”
With the arrival of better weather after almost two months of being stuck at home, many Canadians are eager to get outside — on trails and bike paths, on the road and in parks. Some essential workers, who would normally take public transit, are opting for cycling. With gyms closed, people are switching to running and jogging to get some much-needed exercise.
“Because people are so heavily focused on avoiding others, they can make snap decisions as they walk, run or cycle,” Herscu says. “An average city sidewalk is too narrow to keep two metres apart, so you frequently see pedestrians and joggers dodging others by moving to bike lanes or onto the road. If you’re not paying attention, this could spell disaster.”
As reported in a recent Globe & Mail column, city dwellers need room to breathe and, with road traffic down amid the pandemic, that space could be reallocated to allow for walking and cycling. The article notes a number of major cities around the world, including Calgary and Winnipeg, have begun to take such steps.
Toronto Mayor John Tory recently announced measures to help residents resume regular routines, pledging to close some roads and improve cycling infrastructure in a bid to let people circulate while observing physical distancing measures meant to limit the spread of COVID-19.
“The plan dubbed ActiveTO is still being developed, but accompanied a shift in messaging from city officials who have begun urging people to move about while keeping their distance rather than staying home as much as possible,” reports Global News.
“We will need more road space for walking, we will need calm streets, we will need more bike infrastructure,” said Mayor John Tory at a news conference.
Herscu says the ActiveTO initiative is promising, but there aren’t enough details yet.“
I’m curious as to how this will play out,” he says. “What we do know is Toronto plans to close 50 kilometres of roads to all but local traffic, but we don’t know which streets would be affected or how the new measures would be enforced. And how does that work with the Ford government’s plans to reopen more businesses over the next few months?
”Your best bet, says Herscu, is to stay safe and injury free by observing the rules of the road — whether you’re walking, running, cycling or driving. “Make sure your bike or car is tuned up and properly equipped. If you’re walking or jogging, stay alert and avoid making any sudden or rash moves.”
“It’s never a good time to get hurt, but now is not the time to end up in hospital. I’ve mentioned this before but it bears repeating — COVID-19 will make it more difficult to receive the care you may need to get better in the event you are injured.”
The Easy Legal Group of Companies is a Canadian litigation financing firm. Its lending solutions service the personal injury sector including plaintiffs with pending injury claims, their legal representatives and the service providers involved in their cases. The firm is registered to conduct business in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and the Atlantic provinces. Services are delivered through three brands: Easy Legal Finance Inc., Rhino Legal Finance and Seahold Legal Finance.