Montreal councillor pushes for mandatory truck side guards

After a series of fatal collisions involving heavy trucks, some people in Montreal are pushing for more vehicles to be equipped with side guards designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists from slipping under the wheels.

City officials to meet with the Quebec trucking association

33-year-old Mathilde Blais was knocked off her bicycle and run over by a truck on April 28.

After a series of fatal collisions involving heavy trucks, some Montrealers are pushing for more vehicles to be equipped with side guards designed to keep pedestrians and cyclists from slipping under the wheels.

In three separate accidents involving trucks this month, a cyclist and a pedestrian were killed, and another cyclist was seriously injured

Saint-Laurent borough mayor Alan DeSousa first pushed to equip trucks with guards after hearing the story of Jessica Holman-Price, the Montreal woman who was struck and killed by a snowplow in 2005 while walking in Westmount.

"We've done the retrofit of over two thirds of our fleet, with the remaining third to be completed this year. And to date we haven't encountered any significant problems," said DeSousa.

DeSousa said it cost the borough about $1500 per truck to install the side guards.

He said he'd like to see all city trucks — and eventually all trucks operating in Montreal — adopt the same standard.

Open to discussion 

Marc Cadieux of Quebec's trucking association said he's open to a discussion about installing side guards, however, he believes making them mandatory would not be easy.

"Obviously, we cannot make Montreal the only jurisdiction where those would be compulsory," said Cadieux,

"Montreal is an area where there's a lot of traffic from other provinces, coming from the [U.S.]. We have a lot of foreign-plated trucks. How do you deal with all of that?"

Cadieux said if trucks are required to be equipped with side guards, then snowplows and buses should have the same types of safeguards.

He said it's the responsibility of everyone — not just truckers — to keep the roads safe.

Montreal officials are meeting with the trucking association this evening to discuss the issue.

Policy changes

Montreal's administration now says it is considering reviewing Quebec's trucking policy in light of the recent accidents.

This policy determines which roads trucks can drive on in Quebec cities, and also identifies exceptions to allow drivers to make local deliveries. 

Following the death of Mathilde Blais, the city decided to allow cyclists to use sidewalks some places in Plateau-Mont-Royal and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie.

The boroughs plan to paint lines on the sidewalks under overpasses, leaving one side for pedestrians and one side for cyclists.