The accidental death of a cyclist riding a Bixi through an underpass on Saint-Denis St. got to me. Because I’ve ridden a Bixi through that underpass (under Des Carrières St. and a railway line) many times going to and from work, and I’m aware of how dangerous it is.
We don’t know the details of the accident yet. Did she fall off and then get hit? Was there a collision? Did she veer into the truck or did it hit her from behind? It’s important to figure this out not so much to assign blame, but to determine what safety measures are at issue.
The death was controversial because right next to the accident scene was a sidewalk with bollards preventing cyclists from using the sidewalk. In this case, at least, had the cyclist used the sidewalk, she probably would have lived.
So in response, elected officials acted quickly, removing the bollards and announcing plans to allow cyclists to use the sidewalk through these underpasses. The mayor of the Rosemont borough announced that new signs were installed Friday morning allowing cyclists to share the sidewalk with pedestrians.
— François Croteau (@francoiscroteau) May 1, 2014
This applies not only at St-Denis, but at similar underpasses below that rail line where there is no bicycle path, underpasses that have been described as “tunnels de la mort”.
But is that really a better solution? To find out, I grabbed a tape measure and headed down to the underpass to measure the width of the sidewalks. (I ended up running into a guy doing the exact same thing while I was there.)