Nova Scotia

Side guards one step closer to being installed on Halifax trucks

Halifax regional transportation committee voted Tuesday to approve a staff report that recommends installing side guards on municipal trucks and trucks used for city-contracted work.

Side guards 'keep people from being sucked under, where they can be injured or killed,' councillor says

It will cost about $4,000 to outfit a municipal truck with a side guard. (CBC)

Halifax's transportation committee voted Tuesday to approve a staff report that recommends installing side guards on municipal trucks and trucks used for city-contracted work.

"Side guards save lives. We're going to put side guards or tool boxes on the back of our heavy trucks," Coun. Waye Mason, who sits on the committee, said following the vote.

"And the intent of that is what happens when you have side guards is, people — both pedestrians and cyclists — can't get pulled under the wheels of the heavy vehicle."

Two fatalities in HRM

Mason pointed to two Halifax-area cases where people were killed in just that way: "contracted garbage vehicles, garbage trucks, doing a right-hand turn and a cyclist or pedestrian going under and being killed.

"The idea of side guards is that it will prevent that from happening and keep people from being sucked under, where they can be injured or killed."

The motion still needs to be passed by regional council. The additions are set to be phased in over a few years, Mason said.

"All the new, purchased trucks will have them fitted. All the contractors as their contracts are renewed, would have to have them fitted and then we are going to have a supplementary report on the costs of retrofitting existing vehicles at an estimated cost of $4,000 a vehicle."

Toolboxes serve same purpose

He said Montreal found that it could bolt tool boxes on the sides of its trucks that do exactly the same job as side guards manufactured for that purpose.

"It also gives you additional [storage] capacity and they're designed to fit in there so there are lots of solutions that provide the safety feature without compromising the utility of the truck. So that will happen in 2018."

Halifax cycling advocates are happy about move.

"Side guards are a proven way to reduce the risk of death on our roads," said Ben Wedge, co-chair of the Halifax Cycling Coalition.

In March, municipal officials were opposed to installing side guards but were asked to take another look. The latest report cites a New York study that suggests the cycling fatalities there were reduced by 60 per cent and pedestrian fatalities by 20 per cent.

Federal government turned down request

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

The estimated costs to the municipality are $4,000 per vehicle or up to $50,000 a year.

The Cycling Coalition is hoping Halifax could help start a trend, because the federal government has turned down requests to make side guards a standard feature twice in the last 10 years.

"We would be the fourth city in Canada that would have a side guard policy," Wedge said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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