Montreal adopts motion to protect cyclists after fatal crash

While the city of Montreal takes measures to better protect cyclists riding through underpasses, Montreal police say cyclists may be ticketed if they ride on the sidewalk.

Following the death of Mathilde Blais, 33, Rosemont borough will paint lines on sidewalks for bicycles

Flowers hang from the overpass above the spot where a cyclist was killed on Monday, after she was hit by a tractor trailer. (Radio-Canada)

 In a move meant to protect cyclists, the borough of Rosemont—La Petite-Patrie will paint lines on the sidewalks under overpasses, leaving one side for pedestrians and one side for cyclists.

But Montreal Police say cyclists may be ticketed if they ride on the sidewalk. It will be up to individual officers to decide.

A 33-year-old woman was killed yesterday after she was struck by a truck while cycling under the Des Carrières viaduct on St-Denis Street, just south of Rosemont Boulevard. (CBC)
“What the Highway Safety Code says is that if you are a cyclist, you cannot ride on a sidewalk. With that being said, it is not up to police to say, ‘That part of the law we don’t apply,’” said Insp. André Durocher with the Montreal Police’s road security and traffic division.

“The reason we cannot say cyclists will not receive tickets if going on a sidewalk is what happens if we say we are not applying that law anymore, and then we have pedestrians and elderly people walking with canes being hit by cyclists who are riding on sidewalks?” Durocher said on CBC Radio’s Homerun.

Durocher said it’s important for cyclists and motorists to share the road, and that in an underpass, cyclists can use the sidewalk — walking with their bike.

“A cyclist going on the underpass can walk beside their bicycle for a minute or two, and taking a minute or two more to get to your destination safely I think is quite a good investment.”

Officials in the Plateau—Mont-Royal also plan to paint lines on the sidewalks under overpasses as a temporary measure.

"Just remove the cyclist from the deadly viaducts for the next few weeks to come. Then we have to come with much more important solutions to put the cyclists back on the streets, but with reserved lanes," borough mayor Luc Ferrandez said the day of the incident. 

Motion unanimously adopted

Mathilde Blais, 33, was killed early Monday morning after she was hit by a crane truck while riding through an underpass on St-Denis Street, just south of Rosemont Boulevard.

Montreal City Hall unanimously adopted a motion, tabled by opposition party Projet Montréal, on Tuesday afternoon.

The motion calls for the Highway Safety Code to be updated, to account for the growing presence of cyclists on urban roadways. It recommends the code better reflect the current reality of city streets and ensure cyclists are protected.

Police probe continues

Montreal police continue to investigate the fatal collision.

By all accounts, the woman was obeying the rules of the road: She was wearing a helmet, she was using one of the city’s Bixi bikes, and she was in the right-hand lane as she travelled under the Des Carrières overpass on St-Denis Street, just south of Rosemont Boulevard.

The driver of the tractor-trailer used to transport cranes told police he didn't see a thing when the collision happened at about 6:40 a.m.

Aref Salem, the executive-committee member responsible for transportation, told CBC’s Daybreak that it’s possible the truck wasn’t following the rules.

“There is a plan for the trucks. They have to use certain arteries in Montreal. I have to do a follow-up at least to see what is going on there," Salem said.

Montreal police Cmdr. Ian Lafrenière confirmed that trucks are not supposed to be travelling along that section of St-Denis Street before 7 a.m., but he said there are exceptions to the rule.

For example, trucks are permitted to travel in that zone if they are making a local delivery.

Lafrenière said it's possible that the truck driver could be charged or could face fines.

Frustration mounts as city mourns cyclist

Passersby left flowers at a makeshift memorial near the site of the crash. 
Graffiti sprayed on the sidewalk near the site of the fatal collision — Mort cycliste, ville complice (Dead cyclist, complicit city). (Tanya Birkbeck/CBC)

Graffiti sprayed on the sidewalk suggested the public’s growing frustration: Mort cycliste, ville complice (Dead cyclist, city accomplice.)

Next Monday, some Montrealers will take part in a ghost-ride to commemorate the victim.

Salem acknowledges more needs to be done to prevent future collisions.

“I agree that the road is not safe," he said. "I agree we have to do an intervention.”

He says there is a plan to deal with the city’s notoriously dangerous intersections, but "we cannot change the whole city in two days.”


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