Driver shatters cyclist, fined $300.

I was riding my bike to work one morning in 2015. It was 10:45 am on a Wednesday. I was wearing a bright purple jacket. I was visible. Nevertheless, Sharon Gancman didn’t see me. Driving a 300 horsepower black SUV weighing in at more than two tonnes, Sharon made a left turn and slammed into me, throwing me off my bike and onto the road. 

I’m so tired of it, so tired of the pain and exhaustion.

Jess Spieker

The crash broke the base of my spine, caused a mild traumatic brain injury, tore ligaments and muscles in my left leg and damaged my left shoulder. The tissue damage on my left side was so extensive that I developed a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg, which is a large blood clot running up the femoral vein.

I live with these injuries and their symptoms every day.  My brain has been changed by the trauma, with a noticeable deficit in cognitive capacity and short-term memory. Both of my legs bear permanent dents from the hood of the SUV. My mental health has suffered greatly, with anxiety and depression being an ongoing challenge.

Even worse, I think every day about our laws that allowed Sharon Gancman to get off with minimal punishment for her actions. She was charged with ‘turn not in safety’. Ultimately, she received zero demerit points off her driver’s license and was fined $300.  This is a small price to pay in comparison to the never-ending, life-long damage she has done to my body and mind. She is still driving around, and we have no reason to assume her driving habits have improved.

I dearly wish I could have gotten any kind of justice at traffic court. I wish her license had been suspended, and I wish she had been required to complete remedial training about the importance of being aware of cyclists and other vulnerable road users while driving a car.  She did not have to complete community service or face any other form of punishment that would properly drive home the severity and life-long impact of what she did to me. 

Jess was hit so hard that the front fork of her bike was sheared in half.

Following my collision, I have been unable to return to the life I lived before suffering my injuries.  I have been unable to work in the same capacity as I did before, and have suffered financially as a result. My recreational life has also been drastically altered. I can no longer lead the active lifestyle I did before, and find socializing with my friends to be mentally draining.

I am diminished.  Every part of me is diminished, and I will never be what I used to be before the crash.  The Highway Traffic Act must be updated to start recognizing the impact of road violence upon its victims.  Many crashes are preventable, and laws have a role to play in deterring dangerous driving behaviour.  Adding this Vulnerable Road User law to the HTA is not an assault on drivers, or a war on the car.  It is a step toward stemming the rising tide of death and serious injury inflicted on innocent victims by negligent people driving cars.

  • Jess Spieker

How would Bill 62 change this?

OHTAunder Bill 62
Fine$300(up to) $50,000
License suspensionNone1 year
Community serviceNone50-200 hours
Driver trainingNoneMandatory
Presence at courtNoneMandatory