Cover photo from The Chronicle Herald.
Today we were sad to hear that a woman was killed in a collision with the driver of a propane truck. She was riding her bicycle to work on Purcell’s Cove Road when the collision occured. There have been several collisions between people on bicycles and drivers of motor vehicles in this popular commuter and recreational cyclist area. Our thoughts and condolences are with the family and friends of the woman who was killed.
“This tragedy underscores the need for all road users to look out for each other,” said Halifax Cycling Coalition board member Blair Barrington. “We need to work together to ensure that getting to work is not a life-and-death matter.”
This death is the second in two years and fourth in ten years that the Halifax Cycling Coalition is aware of. All four were killed in collisions with heavy trucks. For this reason, the Halifax Cycling Coalition has asked Halifax to install protective sideguards on its trucks and those of its contractors, as was done in Boston and Montreal. Research has shown that more than half of people on bicycles killed by a heavy truck were first impacted by the side of the vehicle, and often dragged under the tire. Sideguards have been shown to reduce the risk of fatality by 61% in the event of a collision between a person on a bicycle and the side of a truck. This issue is currently being studied by city staff.
Cyclist deaths cannot be eliminated by truck design alone. The city and province must increase the education provided to cyclists and drivers, improve the legal protections for vulnerable road users in the Motor Vehicle Act, and actually implement their oft-repeated plans to build lanes for people on bicycles.
We urge the city to move forward on the implementation of a safe, separated cycling network that is accessible for people of all ages and abilities. Only a separated network can prevent collisions like we saw this morning. The Halifax Cycling Coalition has proposed a 37-kilometre pilot of a protected bicycle lane network within the Regional Centre, and estimate the materials would cost $1.5million for a pilot project.
Today our thoughts are with the woman’s family. Tomorrow we will resume our work to make Halifax a safer place to ride a bicycle.