The Ontario Trucking Association recently sent a letter to MPP Wayne Gates educating him on truck-cycling safety and providing proper perspective on the use of side guards.
OTA explained the difference between side guards and popular side skirts or fairings, since many people who advocate mandatory guards on trucks as a way to mitigate contact with bicycles and pedestrians believe them to be one in the same.
Instead, OTA write, side guards (also referred to as “lateral protective” or “side under-run protection” devices) are a rigid set of rails blocking off the open space under a truck and are not the same as side fairings (commonly referred to as side skirts or air deflectors) which are increasingly being installed on tractor-trailer combinations to reduced GHG emissions by limiting aerodynamic drag.
“It is important to distinguish this group of large vehicles from others that are more likely to be operating in inner-city areas, and therefore most likely to encounter cyclists and pedestrians. These vehicles tend to be smaller, non-articulated vehicles which could include those such as garbage trucks, buses, and city maintenance vehicles – not full size tractor-trailers.”
OTA also pointed out the available empirical evidence shows the case for side guards is greatly overstated or simply does not hold up. Transport Canada, which completed the definitive study on this issue in Canada, concluded there is no clear evidence side guards would prevent or reduce injuries or fatalities.
This is not to say that the relationship between large vehicles, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians is not important. “Rather,” the letter continues, “OTA and many cycling advocates believe a better long terms solution is found in increasing awareness and education for all parties on how to safely share the road, along with improved infrastructure planning for all modes.”
OTA was an active participant in the development of the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s #CycleON: Ontario’s Cycling Strategy which looks ahead 20 years and outlines what needs to be done to promote cycling across the province.
OTA also launched its own share the road campaign which included the following educational video below: