In what police are calling a terrible tragedy, cyclist Tomas Montanez was killed on Friday by a the driver of a right-turning dump truck at the corner of Luzerne Street and Whitaker Avenue in Philadelphia.
Going west on Luzerne, the cyclist was riding next to the truck on the shoulder. At Whitaker, the truck driver turned right, running over the cyclist.
Our hearts go out to the Tomas and his family, and the Bicycle Coalition will be holding a vigil and Ghost Bike Dedication ceremony on Thursday evening at Whitaker and Luzerne at 6pm.
While we don’t yet have all the details of the case, it’s worth noting that the police have noted the cyclist was in the dump truck’s “blind spot.” This is a big problem for cyclists, and, of course, not the first time this sort of crash has taken the life of a person on a bicycle in Philadelphia.
After Emily Fredricks’ death on Spruce Street in Center City, the Bicycle Coalition put out a list of seven demands we wanted the city to take on immediately. Among them: Equip all trucks in Philadelphia with side guards between the wheels, which would help stop cyclists from being drawn underneath.
Earlier this year, the city released a statement that all of their new city fleet trucks would include side guards and additional mirrors to stop blind-spot crashes. We are glad the city is doing this.
But their plan doesn’t go far enough. In other cities around the United States, municipalities are requiring all trucks, whether owned by the city or not, to install side guards. We have called upon the City to set a deadline for all trucks doing business in the city to install side guards. City drivers, after all, are often better vetted and trained than private company drivers.
Bicycle Coalition Executive Director Sarah Clark Stuart said as much in last week’s testimony to City Council.
“There is opportunity for Council to help the Administration figure out how to better regulate large private haulers by incentivizing the use of sideguards and voluntarily work in zones to minimize the amount of racing around the City to meet time constraints,” she noted during a Vision Zero hearing. “It was a trash truck rushing early in the morning that killed Emily Fredricks and we think there are common sense voluntary actions that garbage companies could take to increase safety and reduce their negative impacts on the City.”
It’s absolutely inexcusable that private tucks in Philadelphia are not held to the same safety standards as trucks owned by the city. It’s time the city require all private haulers to install safety features—at least side guards, but also “360-degree cameras that provide truck operators a complete view of the area surrounding the vehicle while moving forward” (which the city is requiring on their own trucks—to keep cyclists safer on the streets.
The cyclist was named Tomas Montanez and there is a GoFundMe page set up to support his family. Please donate if you can by clicking here.