Cyclist's death prompts calls to make intersection at Parc and Mont-Royal safer
Borough officials say changes are coming soon and on the long term
Riadh Cherif was working in his shop at the corner of Parc and Mont-Royal avenues when he heard the unmistakable sounds of a collision on Monday.
"When I went out, it was too late," said Cherif. "We tried to help the guy, but it was too late."
He soon learned 31-year-old Andréa Rovere had been riding his bike south on Parc when he was hit by a truck as the driver, a 25-year-old man, took a right onto Mont-Royal.
Witnesses told Cherif the driver had fled the scene, and Rovere was left unconscious and bleeding on the pavement in the middle of the intersection, located in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough — a sector of the city heavily used by cyclists and pedestrians alike.
Rovere died in hospital later that day and the truck driver was charged Tuesday for failing to stop after an accident.
Cherif said one life was lost and another was changed forever that day, making for a "really sad story." But at the same time, he said, it's a dangerous intersection and collisions are frequent.
"Speed is a really big problem," he said.
Matt Otto, a local cyclist, agrees with Cherif.
"It's a dangerous area to ride the bike, especially down to that corner until you cross the street," said Otto. "This whole area is a bit of a tough turn to make."
Making intersection safer is possible, advocate says
Magali Bebronne, program director for the cyclist advocacy group Vélo Québec, said there is a lot the city could do to make the intersection safer.
"When you look at an intersection like Mont-Royal with four lanes of traffic, no traffic calming and Park Avenue with six lanes of traffic, it's an accident waiting to happen," she said.
"There's no surprise that this is a very dangerous spot for any vulnerable road users to be navigating."
Montreal has become known for its immense network of bicycle paths over the last decade as the municipal government works to make the city accessible and safe for cyclists.
The aim is to encourage people to bike more than drive, and with that, there is less strain on public transit and fewer cars on the road.
In 2013, six cyclists died on Montreal streets and there hasn't been a deadlier year since. In 2019, there were no deaths and last year only one. That makes for a total of 21 cyclist deaths between 2013 and 2020.
However, Montreal police say three cyclists have died so far this year. As of Sept. 4, there were a total of 19 deaths caused by collisions on the island.
Borough vows to improve intersection
In a news conference Tuesday, borough and city officials said several steps will be taken in response to the collision.
The bike path on Côte-Sainte-Catherine Road will be extended to Parc Avenue and Rachel Street, officials said.
Other interim steps will be taken to secure the intersection by next spring while preparing for the installation of a reserved bus lane. Photo radar devices will also be installed, officials said.
Borough Mayor Luc Rabouin offered his condolences to the family of the victim on behalf of the citizens of Plateau Mont-Royal.
"We have a big project in store for Parc Avenue," he said.
"It will take time to realize — to plan with our team of professionals in consultation with citizens."
Vélo Quebec teaches people to avoid truck blind spots
Vélo Quebec works to educate cyclists about hazards they may need to navigate while biking or walking in the city, and truck blind spots are a major safety concern.
Bebronne said truck drivers have large areas they can't see and cyclists need to stay out of those blind spots.
"They're so huge," she said.
"It's so sad that we have to teach 8-year-olds, 5-year-olds, 30-year-olds how to stay safe around trucks."
Bebronne said the onus should be on the truckers to not hit cyclists, "but this is where we have come as a society," so people can stay safe while walking or cycling.
with files from Derek Marinos and Radio-Canada
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