October 04, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – A rash of bicycle accidents in late summer, some fatal, is putting pressure on Canada’s Parliament to take action and make streets safer for cyclists and pedestrians. Two Members of Parliament (MPs) are putting forward private members’ bills to address the problem; one of those same MPs now reveals that he was lucky to escape without major injuries after a car struck him while he was riding his bike this summer.
In Montreal, three out of five serious accidents in August involved heavy trucks. Lobby group Vélo Québec points out that some 31 percent of all fatal bike accidents in Quebec involve heavy trucks; the pattern seems similar elsewhere. A frequent scenario is a heavy truck making a left turn in dense traffic and crushing cyclists or pedestrians under its wheels.
NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice (Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie) is presenting a private member’s bill to make such side guard rails mandatory in Canada, as well. Private member’s bills, typically presented by opposition MPs, usually fail to garner enough votes to pass into law.
Boulerice also told La Presse that as a cyclist, he barely escaped with his life from a collision with a car this summer. “I was hit by an automobile while crossing Sherbrooke Street and rolled over the car hood without sustaining too much damage. My bike, however, was good for the scrap yard.”
Another private member’s bill is being presented by fellow New Democrat Gord Johns (Courtenay-Alberni) and also touches on bicycle safety reports The Ottawa Citizen. Because most issues governing roads are provincial or municipal jurisdiction, Johns’ bill is limited to general terms such as “bringing stakeholders together” and “encouraging cycling-friendly infrastructure.”
In reaction to the rash of bike accidents, the Sept. 16 Montreal Gazette’s editorial page read: “It’s time for bolder action. The city should connect the missing links in bike paths. It should create efficient north-south and east-west corridors within the busy core where cyclists get priority over cars, something that would help keep bikes off busy arteries…” That editorial criticized Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre for not doing enough for bicycle safety. It also calls for fundamental changes to street design and to the attitudes of drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.
Canada is not the only country where such issues are being debated. In England, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is proposing to ban some 35,000 heavy trucks based on the lack of vision they afford drivers reports BBC. Khan points out how 23% of pedestrian fatalities and 58% of cyclist deaths in London are caused by heavy trucks. The local Road Haulage Association accuses Khan of “demonizing” trucks and drivers. England, of course, has adopted the truck guard rails mandatory in Europe.
According to Olas, an email response from the police on Sept 28 said that a ticket was being sent to the driver by bailiff. “If the driver contests this ticket, you will be asked to present yourself in court in perhaps six months time. If possible, conserve the video (as evidence in court).. Have a good day.” Check out Olas’ posts to the Vélo d’hiver – Montréal Facebook page here. Pedal believes this action may set a legal precedent in Canada.