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A Public Works mechanic works on a dump truck which has been retrofitted with side guards, in their garage in Westmount, Que., Nov. 29, 2011. (Christinne Muschi For The Globe and Mail)
A Public Works mechanic works on a dump truck which has been retrofitted with side guards, in their garage in Westmount, Que., Nov. 29, 2011. (Christinne Muschi For The Globe and Mail)

Montreal to add side guards to its big trucks Add to ...

Canada’s second biggest city will install side guards on its fleet of big trucks and is calling on the federal government to impose similar standards to save the lives of pedestrians and cyclists who get caught in the wheels of of multitonne vehicles.

Montreal will install side guards on 70 vehicles by the end of the year and the complete fleet of about 1,000 dump trucks, flatbeds and other vehicles within five years at a cost of $2.5-million.

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“These measures significantly reduce the risk of accident involving cyclists and the gravity of injuries when a collision happens,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre.

The problem, according to the mayor, is that the vast majority of the big rigs on Montreal streets are privately owned vehicles that will not be touched by the measure. About a half-dozen grisly accidents in Montreal in recent years involving big trucks and cyclists and pedestrians have involved privately owned vehicles.

The province, which regulates existing vehicles, has promised to update road safety legislation to take into account the growing number of cyclists, but Transport Minister Robert Poëti said recently it’s too early to say whether side guards will be considered.

The federal government, which regulates new vehicles, says it is not interested in imposing such regulations, saying in a statement that “Transport Canada’s examination of the safety value of side guards does not support the need for mandatory side guards in Canada.”

Mr. Coderre said he will send a letter to Transport Canada asking for federal measures to require side guards, which have been required in Europe for 20 years. The U.S. transportation board has recommended regulators there require side guards. The regulators have yet to pass any new rules.

Alan DeSousa, the mayor of a Montreal borough that three years ago started to add the device to Saint-Laurent’s fleet of trucks, says he hopes momentum is building, and the move by one of Canada’s biggest cities will increase pressure.

“Cities like Toronto and Vancouver and us are all encouraging people to use more active transport. I’m hoping this move in Montreal will reverberate in those places,” he said.

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