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Cyclist evades death after being struck by delivery truck on St. Laurent

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Photo: Patrick Sanfaçon, La Presse

This morning, around 9am, a 22-year old woman was pulled under a delivery truck and tangled up in the twisted metal of her bike, reports La Presse.

She was taken to hospital, conscious, with several broken bones and is in critical condition.

Riding home up the Main every day, I am often stressed by the traffic gunning to get past, yet hesitant to ride too close to the fast turnover parking on the right. And there are swarms of cyclists in the same position. Will this city one day have bike paths where cyclists actually go (eg. St. Laurent), or only where someone wants them to be (eg. Clark)?

Wishing you a speedy recovery, mysterious 22-year old woman.



  1. Weird that I’ve specifically avoided St. Laurent in favour of going the wrong way up St. Dominique. Much easier to avoid traffic that way in my book. Des Pins is to be avoided too, though it actually feels like you have an extra lane.

  2. The problem is that St-Laurent is the only way to go north in that area (Clark’s path is south, right?). And no one “walks” Prince Arthur to go to Cherrier, so it’s a daily battle :-(

  3. I couldn’t have said it better:

    Will this city one day have bike paths where cyclists actually go (eg. St. Laurent), or only where someone wants them to be (eg. Clark)?

  4. I ride up Saint Laurent every day, except the winter and, although I am concerned about the cyclist, I reserve some doubts that she was riding safely. (Obviously I have no knowledge of the specific actions of the cyclist, I am speaking in generalities of cyclists that I have observed)

    (I have similar reservations about the driver also.)

    Far too many people are clearly not aware of the rules of the road. I’ll ramble on about some things I see all the time:

    Riding against traffic.

    Riding with headphones is a suicide note.

    Riding on the sidewalk, not directly relevant in this case, selfish.

    Weaving into the parked car area _feels_ safer, but all it means is that you appear to jump into the lane from nowhere from the driver’s perspective.

    It is better to take sufficient space in the lane that you can easily move towards the car given a crunch situation.

    If you’re holding traffic up, consider yielding. This might prevent being caught by a driver cutting it too close.

    Watch the wheels of cars that you are passing or being passed by, and also check mirrors for threats from the parked cars.

    Shoulder check.

    Signal your intentions clearly.

    When approaching an intersection, if you’re not going to stop, at least brake so you can see traffic clearly.

    Trucks are the most dangerous as you can’t kick them and get the driver to respond in emergency situations. If you come up to a truck, assume they don’t know you are there. If you’re going to be overtaken by a truck (situational awareness helps here) consider slowing to let them pass.

    They’re the ones driving the weapons, you’ve only got your wits to protect you. Stay safe and best wishes to mystery girl.

  5. I will never understand why people take the risk of cycling up (and DOWN?!) St Laurent when there is a protected bike-path just one block away… (or where there are much quieter streets available like St-Dominique). What actually is wrong with Clark?

    It’s stressful for drivers (moving and parked alike), delivery people, pedestrians… and evidently highly risky for cyclists.

  6. William, I know what you mean. But I also take Saint-Laurent regularly because it’s the only way up. The path on St-Urban heads south. Clark and St-Dominique have weird one-way-up-followed-by-one-way-down blocks which actually makes it illegal to head directly up those street. Both are heading South where the intersect the Milton bike path.

    Few cyclists are going to get off and walk down Prince Arthur (I have been warned by police for cycling along the pedestrian street.) So, whether you are heading north or east, there is a tendency to go up the Main.

    Not to mention that there are tons of DESTINATIONS right on Saint-Laurent and cyclists tend to prefer door-to-door service.

  7. The only place there is a two-way bicycle path is from Laurier to the bicycle path along the CP railway track, and at the north end it takes a very strange meandering route around a park (nobody uses that). I live north of the Plateau so I use that path frequently, then take the path down St-Urbain. A path the other way along St-Laurent is sorely needed. Although I like the wider sidewalks, when restructuring the whole “Main” they should have left room for a one-way bicycle lane north.

    j2, you have no proof whatsoever that the young woman was riding unsafely. She wasn’t the culprit; the speeding truck was. And she obviously wasn’t riding on the sidewalk.

  8. It is worth noting that a “traffic calming” feature of the newly renovated boulevard St-laurent is that the roadway part of the street is narrower than before the reconstruction.

    This gave us wider sidewalks which are more pedestrian-friendly, but had the collateral effect of making the previously-wide road with extra-space-for-bikes much narrower (translation: less safe!!!).

    That being said, getting between a large vehicle which is turning and the corner is deadly. (if you learn anything about bike safety: learn this!)

    France’s version of the Bixi changed their on-bike safety instruction sticker this year, the new sticker showed one safety instruction: avoid the danger zone between the corner and a turning vehicle.

    Ride safe everyone!

  9. Maria, please get the burr out from under your saddle, J2 offered a clear caveat. J2 might have better avoided any mention of the rider in question, but his comment contained excellent info, and timely, as an accident is right the time to mention relevant safety information.

    Learning from mistakes is a way to increase safety (I work in aviation where safety if emphasized every minute of every day)

    There is a lot of unsafe bicycle riding in this city and J2 comments/suggestions were appropriate and spot-on.

    I never want to see bicycle-riders being taken away in ambulances (I – and several friends – have taken that trip), but not all bicycle riders are innocent bystanders. Really, have you ever actually noticed the crazy bike-riding-antics going on by riders in this city? (I have had car-drivers do a double take when I stop at red lights, car drivers now expect bikes to habitually ignore red lights)

    I have often said that education, not regulation will make the city a better and safer place to ride a bike. (hey J2: thanks!)

    You and I might be closer to always-safe riders, but there is plenty room for improvement in the general population.

  10. J2,

    You give good safety advice. Even though I consider myself a safe rider, I often find myself in situations where I am forced to bend the rules.

    For instance, I live near Laurier street which is one way eastbound between Mentana and Papineau and chock full of destinations.

    The nearest parrallel streets are either really far (St-Gregoire) or a really busy car sewer (St-Joseph).

    How am I supposed to get to the shops (and back!) on my bike without either riding against traffic or riding on the sidewalk? I often see cyclists facing this dilemma on that street.

    Until every street in the city has bi-directional bike lanes, I reserve the option to *safely* ride against traffic or *slowly* ride on the sidewalk, especially when it’s not busy with pedestrians.

    “Illegal” and “dangerous” are quite often two different things.

    I agree though that you have to be a nutcase to ride in the city with headphones.


  11. ok, i totally agree with everyone and conclude:
    1. Even tough there are other “bike-paths” or “safer-sidestreets”, St. LAurent is the road of preference for many cyclists (including me)…

    So… what can we do to push for the correct and effective transformation of St. Laurent?

    What could be done? More traffic calming? Separated bike lane (which has its side-effects)? Elimination of a complete “car-parking lane”?
    Implementation of “bike boxes” (this would actually make corners safer and the investment is so little)?
    Guerrilla ilegal bike-lane paintaing?

    WHAT?…and not only WHAT…but WHEN, and by WHO?

  12. Bobino, I agree with safety education. Cycling-friendly cultures such as Netherlands and Denmark provide cycling education from childhood – and motor vehicle drivers in those countries are also cyclists. Including posters about the “dead angle”. What I don’t agree with is victim blaming, which ignores the elephant in the room. Too many cars. (And too much use of trucks rather than rail for transport of goods, though that is more an overland problem).

  13. Having gone the downtown to Saint-Laurent path for a year and a half in recent years, I have tried the smaller streets and the circumvoluting bike path, and found myself often on the least resistance path : St-Laurent. The very often slow traffic makes it easy to navigate, there are traffic lights on all intersections, and in winter the traffic clears a wider path.

    An unhurt, helmet-less, urban cyclist since the 60’s.

  14. I’m an avid bike rider and I think it’s about time that riders realise cars can kill you. There are still riders who cycle around without even slowing down at red lights or stop signs with the ‘I-have-priority” attitude. To me, that’s deadlier than riding with your headphones. I’m not saying that’s what happened to mystery girl, I’m just reporting something i see and hear waaaay too much.
    I was once a bike courrier who took a lot of chances and saw others getting seriously hurt and I’m in no way trying to blame riders only. Car drivers also have to be a lot more careful and not teach lessons to riders. I wish all car owners experience a ride home on the bike on the Main and vice versa for cyclist as that way, there would be a lot more of understanding between the two parties.

    here’s something i read from a fine blog : les dudeurs

  15. Maria, I think the expression you’re looking for is “blind spot” :-). (But I’m sure every Montreal will understand “dead angle” as well)

  16. The Main between Prince Arthur and rue Mont-Royal should be turned into a pedestrian street.

    There is barely enough room for vehicular traffic, never mind vehicular, cyclist, and pedestrian traffic. The 55 bus is regularly late because it gets stuck in the bottleneck between Sherbrooke and Mont Royal.

    Ste-Catherine between Atwater and Berri should also be a pedestrian street.

    St-Urbain should be bi-directional.

    I don’t understand why a conservative and car-centric city like Vancouver can be so progressive with its urban planning and Montreal – touted for its creativity and progressive mindset – is still stuck in the 1800’s.

    Maybe because Vancouver is a newer city?


  17. Does anybody else agree that the painted bike lanes meant to make cyclists safer, actually feel like an always-about-to-happen-dooring deathtrap? I’d much prefer riding against traffic on narrow one ways like St Dominique than pick up speed going down bike ‘lanes’ like on St. Urbain. All those car doors….just ready top open up into your path. I also weave into, and flow with, traffic on Rachel for the reason that that bike path on Rachel is narrow and riding a bike in that narrow bike lane feels like driving a car. It’s actually stressful to be in heavy bike traffic, with varying rider speeds. The benefit of a bike, to me, is being able to have the best of both pedestrian and vehicle worlds, without having to conform to the limitations of either. I can’t stand the feeling of being held up behind other riders, or being the one holding up other riders. I strongly feel that bicycle lanes can make cyclists, and motorists, more stupid if they’re designed wrongly.

  18. There is a lot wrong with the Rachel bicycle path – for one thing the lanes should be on either side of the street, but cyclists will just have to get used to heavy bicycle traffic, and faster cyclists will have to learn how to pass slower ones when they can (I have cycled frequently in Amsterdam). Jacob, I believe you have cycled in Copenhagen?

    Bicycles are for almost everyone, not just 20-year-olds who can go very fast. More paths would be a big help. I certainly avoid the Boyer path on a Sunday afternoon as it is full of families with small children learning to cycle.

    Yes, “blind spot”, but I prefer “dead angle” as in French … and similar to the Dutch “dode hoek”. Blind spot makes it seem much smaller than it is. Dutch cycling planners are very averse to the kind of cycle-discouraging scare messages common in North America and the UK, but they have been running quite the campaign about this danger:

    kyle, the main benefit of the St-Urbain path, despite its inadequacy, is safety in numbers. I used to work down at the other end of St-Urbain and commuting down it was utter hell at rush hour before the path was drawn.

    Riding against traffic on narrow one-ways does nothing to increase cyclists’ herd safety, rather on the contrary.

  19. I think the painted-on bike path signs are fantastic. While they don’t clear an exclusive path for bikes, they do signal to car drivers that bikes are there and have ownership of a slice of the road. And that in and of itself is priceless.

  20. Je roule sur le boulevard Saint-Laurent à vélo parce que c’est le trajet le plus direct pour remonter vers le nord. La qualité de la chaussée entre aussi en jeu: comparez le revêtement à celui de la rue Saint-Dominique (qui n’est accessible qu’au niveau de des Pins). À vélo, les craques et nids-de-poule ne pardonnent pas.
    Et n’est-il pas logique de pouvoir remonter facilement vers le nord quand la descente vers le sud est aussi simple (St-Urbain)?

  21. “Riding against traffic on narrow one-ways does nothing to increase cyclists’ herd safety, rather on the contrary.”

    It’s funny, because while I understand the logic of safety in numbers, in practice I fell much safer on my bike when there are absolutely no cyclists in my immediate vicinity, especially on narrow bike lanes. I usually ride right down the middle of Boyer rather than on the path, but duck onto the path/sidewalk/alley when a car comes along, so not to hold them up. It’d be nice if the city set aside whole streets like Boyer as cycle-first streets, with breaks to force cars to turn at every block, while letting cyclists ride straight though. Safety in numbers would make a lot more sense if the bike route was a whole street, rather than a mini-street. The whole street bike path concept seems to work quite well in Vancouver. I’m willing to bet that a whole lot more bikes travel on the section of Boyer between Rachel and Laurier than cars…so why do cars get pretty much the whole street?

  22. In regards to Niomi’s comment about Saint Urbain becoming bidirectional for car traffic–at this point Saint Urbain is a mainly residential street and has been clogged by the Place des Arts construction from about des Pins down for the past year or so–making it bidirectional would make it impossible to move up OR down the street.

    Agreeing with the calls for a bike lane on St-Lo though–every street until Laval is impossible to cycle up in the Prince Arthur direction and Clark is a nightmare as well.

  23. Saint-Dominique would be a fine street to take if it wasn’t so damn bumpy! All the cracks and potholes make it extremely unpleasant to bike on…

  24. A bike lane on St-Laurent would be a great idea… especially if it’d keep cyclists off the sidewalk.

    I read all the comments, and only a few mentioned pedestrians… it’s all about cars. I understand the desire to avoid cars – they can kill you. So thanks, J2 & Bobino, for your comments – they’ll help keep a few folks safe.

    But, pedestrians + bikes + sidewalk = bad mix. A bell tinkled at me to get out of the way on the sidewalk enrages me even just a bit more than the rider who zips past close enough to take my coat with them.

    Sorry, folks, but that’s just bad manners. Especially if you’re smoking/talking on the phone at the same time as you nearly run me over. I don’t want to get hurt, either!

    As for the block between Bernard and Bellechasse, under the underpass on St-Laurent, proposal :
    – some how, slow down road traffic to 40 km per hour.
    – walking people and turning cars at the pointy water tower building don’t mix well (most bikes are on the other side). Something needs to change here.
    – all “through” traffic be directed to take the left lane under the bridge
    – all bikes, right-turning at Bellechasse, (x Canadian Tire) and bus traffic be directed to take right hand lane.

    if the above doesn’t work:
    – east side sidewalk : bikes ONLY
    – west side sidewalk : pedestrians ONLY

    3rd alternative : stop light at Bellechasse.

    Meanwhile, be nice to pedestrians on both sides of the tunnel.. please!

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