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Calls ramp up for Hamilton Road improvements in wake of latest cycling death

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Traffic on Hamilton Road is heavy during the day, and it is fast moving. On a bicycle, it can be treacherous, according to London, Ont. cycling advocate Ben Durham.

“A danger to cyclists along Hamilton is not only the drivers who are driving, but when you are on the road and passing the parked cars, you are in danger of being doored,” he said.

Durham has added his voice to a growing chorus calling for improvements to Hamilton Road. He’s penned an open letter to city councillors demanding a plan of action.

“Infrastructure needs to be improved,” he exclaimed.

The calls follow the death of Londoner Rafal Szabat. Police say the 54 year old was riding his bike on Hamilton Road near Rectory Street early Wednesday morning, when he was struck by a vehicle. He later died of his injuries.

It’s the second cycling death on that stretch in less than two years. Fanshawe College student 29-year-old Jibin Benoy was killed in a hit-and-run in September of 2022.

David Isaacs is a lawyer at Lerners Law Firm, specializing in pedestrian and cycling injuries. He’s also an expert in urbanization, teaching a course in Law of Urbanism at Western Law.

He said the pattern of tragedy will continue on Hamilton Road if improvements aren’t made.

“You know, almost every year, every other year going back five or six years now, there's been fatality per year on Hamilton Road. That stretch is particularly bad. And at a certain point, you need to start wondering, is this an accident or is there something about the design of this road that's contributing to all these injuries and fatalities that are occurring there,” he said.

The Hamilton Road Business Improvement Association is also calling for a long-term solution to safety concerns. But in the interim, Executive Director Carolyn Luistro said she would like a temporary speed-clock installed.

“We have 20,000 [drivers] a day, approximately. So this is something that people have to remember to slow down. I know that the speed clock is not a solution, but it's quite a step ahead,” she said.

The BIA has been working with ward one Coun. Hadleigh McAlister on implementing improvements.

McAlister told CTV News a variety of safety measures will be included in the updating of both the Master Mobility and Streetscape plans for the area. Each is a work in progress.

“The way the infrastructure projects have gone, it's kind of been in pieces,” he explained. “I do have quite a few concerns in terms of Hamilton Rectory. [London Police Service] has also been informed. And they did put a camera there as well, with the ‘22 incident, it was a hit and run. So we're trying to increase the visibility on our side in terms of the street lighting. But the police are also aware in terms of traffic violations.”

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