The Halifax Cycling Coalition is applauding regional council for its part in getting the first side guard installed on a municipal vehicle Tuesday.

"We're so excited. This is a huge step forward for the municipality and also for safety in Halifax," said Kelsey Lane, executive director of the coalition.

Safer cycling

Since 2007, Lane said there have been four fatal collisions with cyclists and right turning vehicles in the municipality. She said the side guard acts as a barrier between the front and the rear wheel that prevents cyclists from sliding under.

"It prevents the severity of a collision from potentially being fatal. It's been proven to work in municipalities across Europe and Japan. There's also lots of evidence from North America as well," said Lane.

Halifax staff have said the side guards could be installed on the municipality's fleet of large trucks, as they are replaced. That will mean up to 84 vehicles would have them by 2022. . 

'It really makes the difference'

In March, staff rejected a proposal to put side guards on municipally owned and contracted vehicles because it would cost up to $400,000 and it wasn't a part of the original budget. Lane credits the mayor and Coun. Waye Mason as being huge proponents of side guards.

"It was quite the advocacy and quite the effort from a lot of different groups to really turn that around and see the real value in that.... It really means the difference between someone coming home at end of the day or not," said Lane.

Lane said she would like to see the province add side guards to its own larger vehicles.

"If they have the capacity to do it, it will make a difference for cyclists across the province being able to cycle safely."