Safe Trucks and MP Olivia Chow Host Successful Town Hall Meeting
February 22, 2012
TORONTO – More than 50 community members learned about and discussed the life-saving value of truck sideguards at a local town hall meeting. The event was organized by the grassroots group Safe Trucks and the NDP Transport Critic Olivia Chow.
The local Member of Parliament, who has been advocating for improved safety for cyclists and pedestrians throughout her political career, is pushing for mandatory sideguards on heavy trucks with her Bill C-344. Such a regulation has been in place in the European Union since the early 1990s. Sideguards, along with improved mirrors and other steps, are behind a 31% drop in cycling fatalities in the EU.
The event at Beit Zatoun included statements from friends and family members who lost their loved ones in tragic collisions with trucks. Fatalities that could have been prevented had truck sideguards been in place, Karen MacNeil Hartmann pointed out. Her children Samantha and Adam powerfully described how the tragic loss of their father still affects them.
While we cannot fill the void that such tragedies create, it is important to continue the lost ones’ legacy through concrete action, Matthew Remski emphasized in a touching eulogy to Jenna Morrison.
Olivia Chow moderated the event, which included an update on her legislative initiative as well as her efforts to get the trucking industry on board. She expressed optimism that common ground can be found as trucking companies can benefit from sideguards in various ways.
With aerodynamic design, sideguards not only improve safety but also reduce fuel consumption and thus lower greenhouse gas emissions. In his presentation, Tim Ehlich referenced data from the National Research Council: if installed on all semi-trucks in Canada, aerodynamic sideguards would save more than 1.1 million tonnes of CO2 annually – the equivalent of taking 245,000 cars off the streets.
The event was capped by a vivid brainstorming session on how to further the cause and a call to action by the grassroots group. In addition to many creative ideas, dozens of participants expressed interested in volunteering through outreach, research and other activities.
What you can do make sideguards a reality in Canada:
- Sign her petition to parliament
- Touch base with Olivia and become a volunteer
- Inform yourself via the website SafeTrucks.ca
- Download a slide deck on sideguards and spread the word