Canadian Government Rejects Side Guards on Trucks That Might Save Cyclists' Lives

© Martin Reis

The memorial builds for Jenna Morrison, a pregnant 38 year old mother who was crushed under the rear wheels of a truck on the way to pick up her son at school the other day. Meanwhile, the Canadian Government resists calls for the installation of sideguards, which might have prevented this tragedy. According to the Globe and Mail, the feds say there is not enough evidence that they work.

“Unfortunately, side guards are not a guarantee of safety,” spokeswoman Mélanie Emma Quesnel said Wednesday. “Transport Canada has not found research data indicating that side guards would be effective in Canada. Studies completed don’t provide sufficient evidence to move forward with a regulation.”

© Martin Reis

In a letter to the Minister of Transport, Member of Parliament Olivia Chow (a seriously committed, if overdressed, cyclist) notes another reason:

In 2006, I proposed a bill in the House of Commons to legislate the use of truck side guards, nationwide. I renewed my efforts in 2010 by introducing a Private Member’s Bill. Both times, this initiative received massive support. I received a tremendous amount of petitions, letters, emails and phone calls from people calling on the Government to make this bill law.

Your ministry responded by arguing that mandatory side guards would result in “decreased competitiveness for Canadian trucking companies.” The words and inaction of the Government on this issue, illustrates that the Conservative Government does not consider the safety of pedestrians and cyclists to be a priority.

The competitiveness argument is completely specious; international trucking is done with tractor-trailers that turn corners completely differently than straight trucks, are intimidating enough that cyclists keep far away from them, and are not nearly as common on city streets as straight delivery, cement, gravel and garbage trucks. In fact, looking back at the last few years of these accidents in Toronto, not a single one was caused by an articulated transport truck.

As for research, there was enough for Great Britain, the EU, Australia and even Brazil to make sideguards mandatory.

If you go to Home Depot and buy a Skilsaw, it has a guard on the blade. If you go up a stair or walkway, it has a guard and a handrail. The government is very careful to have rules to keep people from falling off buildings. But they have none to protect people from falling under big wheels that are almost completely hidden from the view of the operator of the machine.

© Martin Reis

As Olivia concludes:

Our citizens deserve a Federal Government that takes action and protects the lives of pedestrians and cyclists. Now is the time to stop the tragic loss of lives on our roads. All it takes is political will.

And a bit of hope, love and optimism, singularly lacking in our Federal Government these days. ARC, Advocacy for Respect For Cyclists, has organized a ride Monday morning to the site, as they do every time a cyclist is killed. I was on one for my rowing buddy Hubert (who also probably would have been saved by sideguards) and will be on it Monday morning.

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes | Toronto