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Vigil to remember Toronto's 27 traffic fatalities this year

The June vigil also marks one year since Toronto city council passed its road safety plan and Vision Zero principles.

Kasia Briegmann-Samson's husband Tom was cycling when he was struck dead by a man driving a minivan in November 2012.

Eduardo Lima / Metro Order this photo

Kasia Briegmann-Samson's husband Tom was cycling when he was struck dead by a man driving a minivan in November 2012.

Kasia Briegmann-Samson knows the value of remembering lives lost on Toronto's deadly streets.

Her husband Tom was cycling when he was struck dead by a man driving a minivan in November 2012. Tom Samson was 35.

Briegmann-Samson, the 39-year-old spokesperson for Friends and Families for Safe Streets, is part of a group organizing a vigil at Nathan Phillips Square that will remember Toronto's 27 traffic fatalities so far in 2017.

It's the first vigil for the group, which formed in fall 2016 in response to the increasing number of pedestrian and cyclist fatalities in Toronto.

"Every death represents a family that is shattered," says Briegmann-Samson.

"No death is acceptable."

The June vigil also marks one year since Toronto city council passed its road safety plan and Vision Zero principles, a road safety philosophy where every traffic fatality is seen as preventable.

Traffic fatalities are thus far not as bad in 2017 compared to 2016. At this time last year 21 pedestrians or cyclists died on Toronto's streets, and this year the number is 13, according to Toronto Police.

But there are still many people to remember and grieve.

The vigil will include a reading of the available names of traffic fatality victims since January 1, when the road safety plan policies were implemented. Because Toronto Police do not release all names, the list will be incomplete. LED candles will be passed out and signs will also be available added Briegmann-Samson. The general public is invited to attend.

Five-year-old Xavier Morgan, who died when he was struck by a driver after he fell into traffic while riding his bike along the Martin Goodman Trail in May, will be among the names read. "Every road death deserves that kind of attention," Briegmann-Samson says. "Every road death merits outrage."

Briegmann-Samson says that Toronto needs to do better on the issue. She cites lower speed limits, increased penalties for at-fault drivers and better street design as key ways to improve.

The vigil will be held at the Peace Garden in the northwest corner of Nathan Phillips Square, from 6 p.m. to 6:20 p.m., on Tuesday June 27. 

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