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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Shining light on streets of danger

Coast exclusive: In May, councillor Linda Mosher struck a bicyclist.

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 4:37 PM

click to enlarge In a previously unpublicized incident, councillor Linda Mosher hit a cyclist last May.
  • In a previously unpublicized incident, councillor Linda Mosher hit a cyclist last May.

It’s been a bad month for those who share the road with automobiles, given the spate of car-versus-pedestrian accidents. The non-motorized public is so freaked out, that this week the police department took the unprecedented step of releasing a report looking at the 74 times walkers have been hit this year (read about it here).

But the report doesn’t have all the incidents. The day after it came out, for example, another pedestrian was hit. Add to this any car-bicycle crashes. And the incidents that aren’t included in the police record, for whatever reason.

Is it possible for a driver to hit a pedestrian or cyclist, and that information not be made public by the police? Absolutely. The Coast has learned that Armdale city councillor Linda Mosher struck a bicyclist earlier in the year, and it’s only coming to light now.

The incident happened May 7 at the corner of Robie and North Streets. As Halifax Regional Police spokesperson Pierre Bourdages describes it, Mosher hit the cyclist with her white SUV, causing “minor injuries,” and left the scene without stopping, driving north on Robie Street. Another driver, who had witnessed the incident, followed Mosher until she "pulled into a garage," says Bourdages. The witness informed Mosher that she had struck a bicyclist.

At that point, Bourdages says Mosher drove to the police station on Gottingen Street. She was given a ticket for a motor vehicle infraction for “Changing Lanes Unsafely,” which comes with a fine of $222.41. Mosher was not charged with leaving the scene, because she said she did not know she had hit the bicyclist, says Bourdages. Despite an injured bicyclist, and at least the appearance of a hit-and-run, police did not publicize the incident when it happened.

Mosher sits on the Board of Police Commissioners, the body that oversees the Halifax Regional Police Department, but Bourdages says the May 7 incident was not treated any differently than any other similar “summary offence” tickets. A summary offence is an infraction, not a criminal charge, and those receiving them can simply pay the fine without going to court. Reached for comment, Mosher says she is contesting the ticket, therefore won’t discuss it further because the matter is before the courts.

Police policy has been to not make public the names of people---including police officers---charged for summary offences. However, as a result of this article, that policy has changed. When The Coast began investigating the May 7 incident, police declined to make Mosher’s name public, but we asked for the legal justification for withholding the name, and the department could find none. From now on, says Bourdages, police will make public the names of those issued summary offence tickets “when asked.”

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