Canadian government once again rejects side guards on trucks

sideguard on german truck
CC BY 2.0 Side guard on German truck/ Lloyd Alter

In Europe, you see side guards on every truck. They are now actually part of the design of the trucks, like the one above seen recently in Germany. It would seem like a no-brainer. Even China requires them. So when opposition member Hoang Mai introduced a private members bill in Canadian Parliament to make side guards mandatory in Canada, there was real hope that it might happen. A series of MPs got up to speak in favor, many with personal stories of loss to tell. Frank Valeriote of Guelph described the loss of the young daughter of a friend, was passionate about making cycling safer.

Guaranteeing safety for pedestrians and cyclists would encourage many more to get out and bike instead of hopping in the car. However, it is tougher to ensure our safety and the safety of our loved ones when we hear tragic stories like those of Jenna Morrison and Mathilde Blais and the too many countless others who have needlessly lost their lives.

He quoted statistics from the UK.

A recent study from the United Kingdom found that these side guards reduced the fatality rate by 61% in instances when a cyclist hit the side of a truck. This type of collision is by no means a rare occurrence. Evidence from the United States between 2005 and 2009 shows that more than half of all cyclist and 29% of pedestrian accidents involved the victim succumbing to the hazards of falling under the side of the truck.

© Martin Reis

The government response from the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of the Environment was heartless. He disputed the British statistics and studies, and said "these studies have not provided proof of the safety benefits of side guards and any mechanism of injury prevention. " Then he noted that not enough people are being killed for him to worry about the issue.

Based on an analysis of fatal collisions in Canada, there were an average of two cyclist and approximately four pedestrian fatalities per year that occurred in collisions involving the sides of large trucks and trailers. While any such loss of life is tragic, this represents fewer than 4% of the total number of cyclist fatalities and less than 1% of the total number of pedestrian fatalities involving motor vehicle collisions over that time period.

Amazing. Billions are spent and the country militarized when one third that number are killed by what is considered terrorism, but six cyclists and pedestrians? Feh. He also shifts the burden to others, like the municipalities that the government starves for cash:

Municipalities also have the responsibility to ensure their infrastructure accommodates for the safe transportation of all road users. For example, it is up to municipalities where to design for bike lanes and wider streets where there is a demonstrated need.

Then the government, which has a majority, defeated the bill and that's that: more cyclists and pedestrians will die, but hey, they are looking at high tech "promising technologies."

I lost a rowing buddy to a right hook from a truck without side guards. I rode with hundreds in memory of Jenna Morrison. We don't need to wait for smart promising technologies; we need dumb sideguards. Now.

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Biking | Canada

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