Another Cyclist Dies Because North American Trucks Don't Have Sideguards

Screen capture. Global News

I wasn't going to write about this. It's just another cyclist killed in Toronto by a truck, where the 25 year old woman was pulled under the wheels of a trailer and had her lower body crushed and took almost a week to die. There are only so many posts you can write about the need for sideguards on trucks, about how little they cost and how easy it would be to do yet the government doesn't demand them, even though in Britain they reduced deaths by 61%. Even China insists on them. I was looking for analogy; Toyota is recalling millions of cars right now because there might be spiders in the airbags even though nobody has been hurt, but are they recalling trucks even though dozens have been killed? Of course not.

Edward Keenan, a great writer at the Grid, pointed to an earlier accident that I covered extensively, where he made an analogy that works.

This is indicative of our cruel disregard, as a society, for the safety of cyclists. My family car contains close to $1,000 in child safety seats, which are required by law, in addition to about $1,000 worth of mandatory front-seat airbags and a couple of hundred dollars worth of seat-belt equipment. Just over a decade ago, all playground equipment in half of Toronto’s schools was torn out and replaced at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars per school because of safety concerns, even though there had never been a reported death or serious injury in a Toronto playground. Only two Toronto police officers have been shot to death in the past 28 years—13 across all of Ontario over the same period—yet virtually all officers wear bullet-proof vests that can cost $500 to $1,500 each.
Clearly, we feel that schoolchildren, police officers, and drivers and passengers of cars are worth spending a lot of money to protect. Meanwhile, the cost of side guards for trucks, possibly less than the cost of filling one with diesel fuel, is too high.

UPDATE: Member of Parliament Olivia Chow has started yet another petition to the House of Commons:

    Sideguards on trucks were made mandatory in the UK in 1986 and the European Union in 1989, resulting in a 61% drop of cyclists deaths in the UK, and a 20% drop in pedestrian fatalities in Germany;
  • Large trucks are involved in approximately 20% of all cycling fatalities in Canada;
  • The Coroner's 1998 report into the death of cyclists found that large vehicles were involved in 37% of collisions resulting in cyclist fatalities and recommended that Transport Canada investigate making sideguards mandatory for large trucks;
  • Flush-mount sideguards for trucks reduce fuel consumption by 9% through improved aerodynamics, leading to a payback period of less than 3 years.

THEREFORE, we call upon the government of Canada to introduce a regulation under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act requiring aerodynamic sideguards for trucks and trailers to prevent cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians from being pulled under the wheels of these vehicles.