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Olivia Chow praises Shu-Pak’s decision to install truck side guards

A file photo of a side guard on a truck. CITYNEWS

Toronto MP Olivia Chow praised a private truck manufacturer for installing side guards on its new vehicles and pressed Ottawa to impose regulations to ensure all companies do the same to help reduce cycling fatalities.

“I have asked the federal government to make it mandatory for all trucks in Canada to have side guards,” Chow said at a news conference at Scadding Court, at Dundas and Bathurst streets.

“In England, after side guards were installed, there was a 60 per cent reduction of fatalities to cyclists and pedestrians.”

David Tanner, president of heavy truck manufacturer Shu-Pak of Cambridge, said his company has already installed side guards on trucks in St. John’s and began an informal program to install safety guards on vehicles at customers’ requests.

Due to the efforts of Chow and families of victims, Shu-Pak now plans to install the guards on all of its new side-loader vehicles.

“We believe that it is an initiative that will save many future lives,” Tanner said.

Chow has called for truck safeguards since 2006 and renewed her plea in 2011 when pregnant cyclist Jenna Morrison was killed on Dundas Street West.

The MP was also joined by the family of Ulrich Hartmann, a father and cyclist who was killed when he was hit by a cement truck near Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue, in September 2006.

“My family and I are thrilled that side guards will be installed on all their new trucks. We know that side guards save lives, mandatory or not,” Hartmann’s wife, Karen MacNeil Hartmann, said. She’s an organizer of the group Safe Trucks, which fights for mandatory side guards.

Her daughter Samantha and son Adam also spoke at the news conference.

“I don’t want anyone else to go through the pain that my family went through after losing my dad,” Samantha said.

“It’s hard to live without your dad, but even harder when his death could’ve been prevented,” Adam said.

Chow’s private members’ bill, Bill C-344, would make side guards mandatory in Canada. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) supports the bill and, according to Chow, Ontario’s chief coroner recently recommended the federal government implement similar legislation.

“If the [Transportation Minister Denis Lebel] tomorrow wanted to do so, he could make it happen,” Chow said.