City of Ottawa pilots pedestrian safety guard on snow plow

The City of Ottawa is piloting a new pedestrian safety guard on one of its snow plows this season and one city councillor hopes to see them on all large city vehicles once the pilot is complete.

In 2016 city staff rejected the idea of installing safety guards, but several weeks ago a private U.S-based company sent one to Ottawa for free.

Staff agreed to give it a try.

"We've had it out for a few weeks now, it looks like there are no issues at this point," said Ottawa roads manager Luc Gagné.

The guard is essentially a metal barrier on the side of the plow that would prevent a pedestrian or cyclist from being pulled under the tires.

Several cities in the U.S., the Montreal suburbs of Westmount and St. Laurent and the City of Halifax have passed bylaws requiring municipal trucks to have side guards.

However, other cities, such as Ottawa, cite the lack of support from Transport Canada as a reason not to proceed.

Fatal collisions

The pilot comes after the recent deaths of two people struck by snow plows in Quebec.

Lennox Charles, 77, was hit and killed Feb. 1 in Montreal. Michelle Solaye, 8, was killed by a Quebec City plow on Dec. 1.

Coun. Catherine McKenney began calling for the guards several years ago.

She said there have been injuries since then that may have been prevented if guards had been installed.

She said the crash that killed Nusrat Jahan, 23, in September 2016 especially comes to mind.

She was struck by a Tomlinson construction truck and pinned under its back wheel while cycling at the intersection of Lyon Street and Laurier Avenue West.

"We do know that was the type of accident where side guards do prevent catastrophic injury or death," McKenney said.

Though her past attempts to pitch the need for guards on all city vehicles have been met with resistance, she hopes the pilot this winter will help her win support.

Once the city has a sense of whether the guard works on a city plow, McKenney plans to bring the idea up again.

Eventually, she would like to see all large vehicles in the city fitted with guards.

The cost of installing one of those guards is about $1,500 per vehicle, she said.

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City of Ottawa pilots pedestrian safety guard on snow plow