A sharp increase in major injuries and deaths for Montreal cyclists has led to calls for decisive action from the provincial government, while Montreal police say education is the key to greater road safety.
- Mathilde Blais remembered in ghost bike ceremony
- Cyclist Mathilde Blais' death was avoidable, says coroner
- Quebec Highway Safety Code bike-friendly changes delayed, cycling groups complain
A new report by Montreal police shows a 50 per cent increase in cyclist deaths and a 43 per cent increase in serious injuries.
Insp. André Durocher says the findings indicate a heightened interest in cycling more than an increased danger on the roads.
The police are approaching the issue with education.
"Regardless of the user of the road, everybody blames the other person," Durocher told CBC Montreal's Daybreak. "Motorists know the Highway Safety Code, but cyclists and pedestrians are not aware of some of the rules."
Cycling advocates say following rules can still cause death
Cyclist Mathilde Blais, 33, died two years ago today while she was cycling to work and was crushed by a truck in a St-Denis Street underpass.
The truck clipped her and she was pulled under, and despite wearing a helmet, she was killed instantly.
The coroner's report found that Blais was not at fault and that the truck driver could have better shared the road.
Cyclist Gabrielle Anctil is holding a vigil this evening for Blais on the second anniversary of her death.
"What is really scary is cyclists get hurt while obeying the law," Anctil said. "Mathilde Blais is a prime example of that. The government has been promising to update the safety code but does not do it."
Cycling groups are calling for a law requiring motorized vehicles to keep a minimum distance of one metre from cyclists while passing bicycles on the road.
"As a cyclist, a car passing too close is very scary," Anctil said. "In many cases where a cyclist is hurt or killed, the driver walks away with not even a fine."
She added that if there was a steep fine for common causes of cyclist injuries – such as car dooring – motorists would think twice before endangering the lives of other road users.
Yesterday, Mathilde Blais's father, Jean Blais, appealed to the Quebec government to make the necessary changes to the Highway Safety Code.
"I understand that you can't just makes changes like that without knowing the cost or the consequences," Blais told the CBC's French-language service, Radio-Canada. "But do something, for God's sake."