Cyclists and Pedestrians Keep Getting Killed By Trucks When The Solution Is Easy: Mandatory Side Guards

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

I had a rowing buddy killed by a cement truck turning right in front of him; at the time it was said that sideguards, rails in front of the rear wheels, might have saved him. After a young woman was killed in Toronto last year, there was an outcry to make side guards mandatory. I wrote then:

There have been private members bills and coroners reports,[demanding side guards] going back years, but the trucking industry always protests, saying that they will cost too much, are too heavy, and will hurt gas mileage.

Another argument against provincial or state legislation is that trucking in an international business. Except only certain kinds of trucking is international; most straight trucks are used locally. I am in Europe as I write this, and I have been looking at the side guards closely, and the arguments against them are completely specious. For one thing, they are not going to be that expensive and they are not very heavy.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

They are really little more than two aluminum rails on a pair of stanchions. In proportion to the whole truck how much is that? Probably not much more than the motors for the power seats and windows. And these save lives.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

An even better approach is the one taken by Mercedes and demonstrated here: they integrate the sideguards right into the design of the truck, a sweeping bit of sheetmetal that morphs into a rear fender. This probably improves the aerodynamics and fuel economy as well.

Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

It seems ludicrous to me that anyone could say that the price of side guards is too high. Instead of blaming the cyclists or even the driver of the truck, how about just acknowledge that it is a fundamental design flaw that there is this big gap where cyclists and pedestrians can be drawn under the rear wheels, and that there is a relatively easy fix for it. Responsible manufacturers should emulate Mercedes and design them into the vehicle; responsible owners should put on aftermarket ones; responsible legislators should make them the law.

Tags: Bike-Friendly World | Bikes

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