News / Toronto

Family of slain cyclist calls for harsher penalties for drivers

The driver who killed 70-year-old Gary Sim has been charged under the Highway Traffic Act but the cyclist's family says a fine is not enough.

Heather Sim lost her father Gary after he was hit by a driver while riding his bike.

Eduardo Lima

Heather Sim lost her father Gary after he was hit by a driver while riding his bike.

The daughter of a long-time cycling advocate struck down on his bike in late June is calling for stricter penalties for drivers who kill.

Heather Sim's father Gary was cycling at Jane Street and Alliance Avenue when he was hit by a driver trying to turn into a driveway. He died days later from his injuries.

Toronto police announced Wednesday the driver has been charged with "turn not in safety," a relatively minor offence under the Highway Traffic Act that comes with a fine of up to $500. The driver is scheduled to appear at Old City Hall on Aug. 17.

"We're incredibly frustrated with this, and I don't even have words for it because I can't believe that that's all they can charge him with," Heather told Metro.

"I can't believe that someone's life is lost and the highest he's going to get is like a $500 fine."

As Metro has reported, safe-streets advocates have long called for tougher penalties in such cases.

Kasia Briegmann-Samson of the group Friends and Families for Safe Streets lost her own husband, cyclist Tom Samson, in a 2012 hit-and-run. The driver was sentenced to 15 weekends in jail.

"It's feels like a sick joke when it happens to you," she told Metro. "It feels like putting a Band-Aid on a gushing wound."

A ghost bike ride will be held Friday, July 14 in honour of Gary Sim who is Toronto's second cyclist killed this year.

Courtesy of Sim family

A ghost bike ride will be held Friday, July 14 in honour of Gary Sim who is Toronto's second cyclist killed this year.

While no fine or jail time can bring a family member back, harsher penalties would be a deterrent for other drivers, she explained.

Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon drafted a private member's bill calling for stiffer penalties for careless drivers who cause death or bodily harm in 2016 — but it has expired.

A ghost bike memorial ride will be held for Sim on Friday, starting at the corner of Spadina Avenue and Bloor Street W. at 6:30 p.m. Riders will travel to the crash site, where a white bicycle will be placed to remember him.

Sim, a retired chartered accountant and grandfather of six, was a very experienced cyclist, his daughter said. He regularly tweeted warnings to drivers and urged them to be more careful.

After he died, his family tweeted one last message from his account.

"#BikeTO this is my last tweet as I pedal my ghost bike with you all I was struck down 06/30 while riding and did not survive #sharetheroad," it read.

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