• James Parry

Cyclists call for immediate improvements at Ultramar on Côte St. Charles


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Battered and bruised Bill Driver is looking forward to being back in the saddle with his bicycling buddies following further treatment at Valleyfield Hospital.

Looking like he had just gone 12 rounds in the ring with Rocky Balboa, Hudsonite Bill Driver considers himself lucky to be alive this week after being hit broadside by a truck while cycling in the reserved lane passing by the Ultramar gas station on St. Lazare’s Côte St. Charles last Friday afternoon. “With all the recent development and increased traffic there, it’s been an accident waiting to happen,” he told Your Local Journal in an exclusive interview this week.

“Fortunately, I came out of it with only a broken nose and some major cuts and bruises to my face. But unless something is done, and fast, the next victim might not be so lucky.” Driver was cycling with six other cycling buddies – some of them members of the Hudson-based cycling group known as The Boomers and all cycling veterans and extremely safety conscious – in the reserved cycling lane that passes in front of the gas station.

Three of them passed safely. Driver, the fourth in line, was hit when a truck that had been waiting to exit suddenly pulled out, smashing into his bicycle and throwing Driver into the middle of the road. “The three others who were behind me immediately came to a stop and blocked off traffic in both directions until the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and ambulance arrived,” said Driver who was making his fifth ride with the group in the past couple of weeks and was just completing his first 75-km outing with them.

“If they had not been there, who knows what would have happened. And thank God I was wearing a helmet,” added Driver who was rushed to Valleyfield Hospital in a neck brace where he was treated and later released pending further examinations and treatment this week. Not that Driver is really angry at the truck driver. ‘I don’t think it’s any excuse, but I think that he just didn’t look to his right before pulling out as most of the traffic there is at the left,” he explained.

“And two people working for the same company who were passengers in the truck immediately came rushing over with a first aid kit and compresses and did what they could until the ambulance arrived.”Driver and his fellow cyclists that day – Alan Lunt, Michael Legg, Ian and Diana Deacon, Wolf Mendritzki, and Roland Schultz - are adamant that improvements need to be made immediately at this busy intersection before another accident - possibly fatal - occurs.

“The reserved cycling path needs to be painted yellow so as to clearly define it,” said Driver. “There needs to be a big sign reminding motorists leaving the station to look right before pulling out. Or, as a last resort, St. Lazare should close that section of the reserved lane completely.” This is not a case of cyclists speeding or behaving recklessly, he stressed.

“We were in our reserved lane doing no more than 10 km an hour and watching out for traffic all the time. He came out of nowhere. Had he done so a couple of seconds later, there would have been three guys lying in the road and not just me.” Said Legg, “We all commend the City of St. Lazare which has done an excellent job of creating bicycle paths throughout the community that we can all enjoy. But this is one section that definitely needs to be remedied. We have heard of many instances of near misses. And I trust that improvements will be made before there is another one. Or something even worse.”

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