Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Faculty of Law


Cycling, Cycling Law, Insurance Law, Law of wheelmen, Motordom, Tort Law


Waters, Christopher




Road violence is now commonplace in North American cities. However, it has not always been like this. During the advent of the automobile, every road death was a source of outrage. It was concerted action from the motor industry, organized into the self-named “motordom,” that managed to shift the blame of the deaths. With the new perception that cars had the right to the roads, victims of road violence would start sharing that blame with drivers in the popular opinion. This shift affected law, including tort law. Before the advent of the motor vehicle, cycling law was an area of legal studies, called the “law of wheelmen.” It was put aside after the automobile, with the creation of road traffic laws clearly centred on motorized vehicles. Common law courts, facing tort claims arising from road violence, remained loyal to the negligence principle. This thesis explores alternatives to the classical car-centred understanding of tort law in Ontario. With an advocacy-oriented approach, it focuses on collisions involving bicycles and motor vehicles, with the intent of providing solutions that result in better distribution of the burden caused by automobiles on road safety. A comparative lens was used in order to find and analyze better options in other jurisdictions.