Victoria councillor wants side guards on city-owned trucks following cyclist collision

A collision involving a cyclist near the Johnson Street Bridge earlier this month has pushed a Victoria city councillor to launch a motion to install side guards on all city-owned trucks.

On July 5 at around 11:56 a.m., a camera captured the moments a cyclist crossing Pandora Avenue at Store Street in the two-way bike lane was struck by a truck turning right onto the bridge.

The rider was knocked forward by one of the truck’s back tires before the vehicle stopped and the driver, along with other cyclists and pedestrians, rushed to their aid.

“I was focused on the accident,” said Couns. Stephen Andrew, recalling the motivation behind his motion being presented at Thursday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

“I’m really concerned about what happened, and I’ve been speaking with and listening to cycling and road safety advocates,” Andrew told CHEK News.

“I’ve learned how Vancouver has passed the same motion, which was unanimous after a death that happened a month ago in a similar issue.”

He’s referring to the June 29 fatal collision that saw 28-year-old cyclist Agustin Beltran killed in a crash with a truck at Pacific and Hornby streets.

It prompted a motion by Vancouver city councillors, who pointed to 2015 Canadian National Collision database statistics showing 22 per cent of fatalities involving trucks and pedestrians or cyclists involve side impacts.

On July 20, that city’s council unanimously voted in favour of mandating side guards on all municipally-owned and contracted trucks.

Now, Andrew is pleading for Victoria officials to do the same.

Fitted between a large truck’s front and rear tires, side guards are protective metal barriers that make it difficult for pedestrians and cyclists to get pinched under a vehicle after impact.

Andrew’s motion not only proposes the guards be installed on all City of Victoria-owned and contracted trucks, but a full review of the city’s vehicle fleet to ensure side mirrors are installed and in working order.

“I really think that nobody should die or be seriously injured trying to get around the city. This is one tool in the toolbox that gets us to make our roads safer,” he said.

Andrew’s also asking Mayor Lisa Helps to write a letter to Canada’s Minister of Transportation calling for the federal government to make side guards mandatory countrywide on large, heavy and semi-trucks in urban areas.

That’s because Transport Canada does not currently require side guards, even though countries like Japan, China and Brazil do.

The motion also asks Mayor Helps to seek an amendment to a section of the BC Motor Vehicle Act to require mirrors covering the front and side blind spots on large, heavy and semi-trucks in urban areas.

In an interview, Andrew said his motion would likely move forward to city staff, who would later present council with an evaluation that includes anticipated costs.

“I think we should do it, but with any initiative, I think it’s important to get the info to staff … as a motion and have staff explore and come back with a report to council,” said Andrew.

“I believe we should do it,” he added. “I mean, what’s the cost of a life?”