According to records from Quebec’s coroner, 20 per cent of all cycling-related deaths in Montreal, dating back to 2005, have involved large, multi-axle trucks — the sort that include tractor trailers and the like.
The CBC recently obtained coroner’s reports detailing 59 such fatalities between 2005 and 2016.
Though the data is incomplete — full reports, the CBC says, were unavailable from 2015 onward — the information provided by the findings is striking. Of those 59 reported fatalities, 12 of them involved tractor trailers. Further, 10 of those 12 deaths happened when cyclists were pulled under the trucks’ wheels and crushed, with five such fatalities being the result of blind right turns on the truck drivers’ part. The fallen riders, apparently, simply weren’t seen from the high cabs.
Data also show that two fatalities were the result of cyclists being struck by the front of a truck, and that men were much more likely to die during the 2005-2016 time period than women. During that time, 49 men died, compared to 10 women since 2005.
In September 2016, a federal task force was launched by transportation minister Marc Garneau to address cycling fatalities caused by heavy trucks, obviously one of the more horrific ways to die on Canada’s streets. Meanwhile, petitions and appeals have been made to the federal government to mandate side guards on trucks — features of heavy vehicles commonly seen in places like Europe, meant to prevent riders from being pulled under the wheels in the event of a collision.
While such measures have been in place in the Montreal borough of Saint-Laurent since 2012, private trucks, on the other hand, are exempt from the requirement to install side guards. That’s something mayor Alan DeSousa wants to see changed.
“It’s a preventative measure, it’s something that improves public safety,” DeSousa told the CBC. “This is not rocket science. Every life saved is worth it, every injury prevented is worth it, and that’s how you build a safe community.”
“This is something that can be done, has been done in other jurisdictions such as the European Community since the 1980s and I think North America has to catch up,” DeSousa added.