Mathilde Blais in 2014, Clément Ouimet in 2017 and Andrea Rovere only two months ago. Their name and images of their white painted bikes have made headlines in recent years after they left their lives on the pavement. However, if cyclists are most often in the spotlight, Montreal has more collision victims among its pedestrians. According to an analysis carried out by the Fromsee, on average 16 per year are killed in a collision with a vehicle, a number that peaked in 2019 with 24 deaths.
One death or one seriously injured is always too many, according to the motto of Vision Zero, an approach adopted by Montreal to eradicate the accidents in question from its roads by 2040. Until then, the safety of Montrealers on the move in active transport varies from one trip to another depending on several factors, including traffic flow, at the top of the list, since the presence of more road users – vulnerable or not – necessarily means more risk collision.
The large volume of pedestrians is precisely the reason why they are over-represented among collision victims, according to Marie-Soleil Cloutier, director of the Pedestrian and Urban Space Laboratory of the National Institute for Scientific Research (INRS). “We are all pedestrians at some point in the day, whether it is someone going to his car, to the metro, to the bus or who goes to local shops. “
The greater number of bicycle lane users is also the reason why intersections located near the tracks are among the most dangerous for cyclists. The major, busier arteries, the city center, a place of daily transit, and the Plateau-Mont-Royal, which has the largest modal share for cycling in the city (13.1% of trips), are also points hot collisions.
The permissible speed of circulation is also a determining factor, according to Sandrine Cabana-Degani, director of Pedestrians Quebec, which mainly has an effect on the severity of the collision. “The probability of survival of a pedestrian struck by a vehicle is 90% if he is traveling at 30 km / h, but it decreases to 25% if he is traveling at 50 km / h. “
Urban development can also be involved in certain collisions. The City of Montreal’s Vision Zero team thus performs post-collision analyzes to correct the situation.
“You have to take into account the context, such as the time of day, the type of vehicle involved, the public nearby (a retirement home or a school, for example), traffic, etc., and find the intersections. who have similar factors in order to intervene upstream, ”suggests Sandrine Cabana-Degani.
According to the analysis of To have to, more than two in three serious or fatal collisions (793 out of 1123) occurred at intersections, between 2012 and 2020. We see more interactions between the various road users, especially left and right turns cars, which increases the risk of collisions.
The City is mainly focusing on its Réseau express Vélo (REV) project to improve the safety of pedestrians and cyclists on the roads of Montreal. “It must be recognized that in a city where the network was built around the notion of fluidity and less security, there is quite a change to be made on all of our roads”, admits Eric Alan Caldwell, former head of mobility to the executive committee of the City of Montreal. He ensures that the administration in place now corrects the configuration of the facilities as soon as it does infrastructure work.
“We do not know how many people no longer walk in the street because they are afraid, or because they have experienced an accident, especially in view of the aging of the population, worries Marie-Soleil Cloutier. We escape them, these pedestrians, because we don’t really have any data on the feeling of safety. “
The professor believes that it is a priority to add sidewalks and reserved lights at all intersections. The City’s goal is to secure a minimum of 250 intersections per year by adding pedestrian-only lights, a goal that has been achieved over the past two years, according to Eric Alan Caldwell.
These reserved lights, and in addition the time devoted to the crossing, are primarily important for the elderly, who represent between 50 and 70% of fatal deaths following a collision between pedestrian and vehicle.
This rate is explained in particular by their speed of movement, sometimes slower. “The allotted time […] is not always sufficient to complete the crossing during the pedestrian light ”, deplores Sandrine Cabana-Degani.
The standard is between 0.8 and 1.3 meters per second, which is clearly insufficient, according to the expert, since a person with a walker advances at a rate of 0.6 meters per second. The City should therefore lengthen the time it takes for pedestrians to cross the main arteries and create refuge islands there, spaces arranged in the center of the roadway, between the two traffic directions.
Watch out for heavy goods vehicles
Another major obstacle to the safety of vulnerable users are heavy trucks. Even if they only account for 4% of vehicles on the roads, they are involved in 47% of cyclist deaths and 32% of pedestrian deaths in Montreal between 2011 and 2019, according to Vélo Québec.
“We are talking a lot about the electrification of vehicles, but it would be a shame if we ended up with energy-efficient vehicles that would always have the same blind spots,” says Magali Bebronne, program director of Vélo Québec.
She suggests that the City follow the example of London, which has established standards for classifying vehicles according to the degree of direct vision the driver has. “Trucks that have poor visibility are no longer allowed to drive downtown, unless they have a whole panoply of detection elements such as a camera, an audible signal, an additional mirror or a side bar. security, ”she explains.
“Vehicle manufacturers must prove that occupants are well protected, but it is high time we followed the example of Europe and also demanded criteria for people who are outside the vehicle. », adds Magali Bebronne.