For the second time this year, there’s been a fatality on the roads in New Westminster.
A cyclist from Vancouver was killed last Friday (Feb. 5) after colliding with a semi-truck at Brunette Avenue and Sherbrooke Street.
The incident, which happened during the rush hour commute just before 3:30 p.m., is now being investigated by New Westminster police’s collision analysts to determine what led up to and caused the crash.
New Westminster Police Department spokesperson Sgt. Jeff Scott explained investigators are looking at a number of different aspects of the crash including weather conditions, the mechanical conditions of the truck and bicycle and the roadway where it happened.
Police haven’t determined if the cyclist, who has not been identified, was commuting at the time.
“I’m not sure what his background is, or what brought him to Brunette Avenue. We don’t have the answer to that quite yet,” Scott said, adding the road is a major thoroughfare with a lot of traffic at that time of the day.
The driver remained at the scene and is cooperating with police.
New West councillor Patrick Johnstone said he was saddened to hear about the incident but without knowing all the details, he isn’t sure much could be done to improve cycling safety along the specific stretch of road.
“There’s no room on that road to really build cycling infrastructure,” he told the Record. “That road is unfortunately not a good place to be on a bicycle.”
Johnstone said instead, the city is trying to provide alternative routes, pointing out the Central Valley Greenway runs by the area. The councillor noted the city’s waterfront vision includes developing another low-level Greenway to run along the waterfront and Brunette.
Johnstone also said the municipality is trying to develop a transportation master plan with the safety of pedestrians and cyclists as a top priority.
However, Andrew Feltham, with HUB New Westminster, a cycling advocate group, suggested the incident is a reminder of the many gaps in the region’s cycling infrastructure, adding the practical alternatives to Brunette are “incomplete or circuitous.”
He said the Brunette corridor is an important regional connection route for everyone, yet it does not provide any dedicated space for cyclists and can’t be considered a "safe route". “
“It is legal for cyclists to use this route, and so both drivers and cyclists must be aware of each other’s presence and act accordingly,” Feltham said in an email.
As for the crash, New West police indicate it could take months to complete the investigation.
In the meantime, Scott said police are looking for any witnesses and asking anyone with information about the crash to call the department at 604-525-5411.
In January, a pedestrian was hit by a car and killed near Royal Columbian Hospital. Police said the driver of the vehicle was headed east on East Columbia Street when it hit the pedestrian, who was crossing the street.