A Quebec coroner has concluded that the death of Montreal cyclist Mathilde Blais was entirely avoidable, in a report released five months after she was hit by a truck while riding through an underpass.

The report describes how Blais died instantly when she was crushed under the back wheel of the transport truck on April 28, and says that even though she was wearing a helmet, it was not enough to protect her from massive brain injuries, and fractures to her skull.

The report also says Blais suffered a fractured thorax and pelvis, and had internal hemorrhaging.

Coroner Paul Dionne concluded that Blais was completely not at fault for the accident, and that the truck driver could have better shared the road.  

The report also gave three recommendations to improve cycling safety on Quebec roads.

Blais’ mother, Geneviève Laborde, told Mike Finnerty on CBC’s Daybreak Montreal she was overwhelmed by the description of her daughter’s death.

“I approve of the recommendations and the day they will be applied, I will be relieved.”

The recommendations are:

  • that the provincial transport board rewrite the road safety code to include a minimum distance for cars when passing a bike, saying the advertising by the SAAQ is not sufficient.
  • to urge Transport Canada to come through on its plans to require side guards on trucks, which the coroner said could have saved Blais’ life.
  • I recommend to the Union of Municipalities of Quebec to promote in urban planning, traffic safety corridors for bicycles; Of course, the main arteries must be priority

Suzanne Lareau, President and CEO of Vélo Québec said she was not surprised by the coroner’s report.

Many of those recommendations have been the recommendations of our organization for years and years,” said Lareau. “I think the death of Matilde Blais helped to accelerate those kinds of recommendations.”

Lareau also Vélo Québec wants to require vehicles keep a minimum distance of one metre between drivers and cyclists.

Shortly after Blais’ death, city of Montreal did take action, by allowing  cyclists to ride on sidewalks next to the underpass on Saint Denis Street near Rosemont where she was killed.

The rules were also changed to allow cyclists on sidewalks at the underpasses on Saint Laurent and Saint Hubert Streets.