Montreal

Coroner's report finds death of Rosemont cyclist was an accident

The report found that the collision was mainly due to the way Bertrand-Desrochers was cycling, and that the truck was driving in an area where trucks are prohibited.

Report calls on government to look into systems that will make it easier to detect vulnerable road users

A white 'ghost bike' was placed at the intersection where Valérie Bertrand-Desrochers collided with a truck last year alongside flowers, stuffed animals and a framed photo of her. (CBC)

A Quebec coroner says more should be done to prevent the kind of collision that claimed the life of a 30-year-old cyclist in Rosemont in June 2018.

Valérie Bertrand-Desrochers was cycling down St-Zotique Street when she collided with a dump truck, which was turning right on 19th Avenue.

She was killed instantly, crushed under the weight of the heavy vehicle. 

The coroner's report found that the collision was mainly due to the way Bertrand-Desrochers was cycling, and that the truck was driving in an area where trucks are prohibited.

According to several witness statements included in the coroner's report, Bertrand-Desrochers had run several red lights before she was fatally struck.

Trucks are not allowed in the area, except for making local deliveries. The truck driver was en route to his home to retrieve his cellphone at the time of the collision, according to the report.

The coroner ruled that the cause of death was an accident. 

The report recommended that Transport Canada should look into effective ways to protect cyclists and other vulnerable road users — including systems that allow truck drivers to better detect the location of cyclists. 

The coroner also recommended that the government continue to educate cyclists about the Quebec Highway Safety Code, to avoid similar accidents in the future.

No room for mistakes around trucks, warns Vélo Québec

"Big trucks are driving in our neighbourhoods, and any mistake will result in very serious injury." said Magali Bebronne, a program manager with the cyclist advocacy group Vélo Québec. 

Bebronne stressed how important it is for cyclists to abide by the Highway Safety Code, and pointed out that cyclists are ultimately responsible for their own safety.

"It seems obvious that the cyclist had risky behaviour, and she was not really respecting stop signs or traffic signs." Bebronne said.

Magali Bebronne, a project manager at Vélo Québec, said that while it is crucial that cyclists respect the Quebec Highway Safety Code, she wants to see systemic changes that will prevent an error in judgment from being fatal. (CBC)

Bebronne says there are ways to prevent incidents like this from happening in the future.

"You need both road users to be able to see each other and understand each others' intentions," she said.

She said she agrees with the measures recommended in the coroner's report. 

"We should have truck designs and detection systems to make it so that if somebody makes a mistake, it's not going to be fatal," said Bebronne.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.