News / Ottawa

Death of cyclist Nusrat Jahan was preventable, says Ottawa councillor

Coun. Catherine McKenney says she’s frustrated the city ignored warnings the yield-to-bikers signs on the Laurier Avenue cycling lane were not visible enough.

A cyclist passes flowers displayed in memory of Nusrat Jahan, a 23-year-old cyclist who died near the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Lyon Street on Thursday.

Haley Ritchie / Metro Order this photo

A cyclist passes flowers displayed in memory of Nusrat Jahan, a 23-year-old cyclist who died near the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Lyon Street on Thursday.

An Ottawa city councillor says she’s frustrated the city ignored warnings the yield-to-bikers signs on the Laurier Avenue cycling lane were not visible enough.

Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney says the city could have done more to prevent the tragic death of 23-year-old Nusrat Jahan last Thursday.

Jahan died while cycling through the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Lyon Street. Witnesses say the driver of the construction truck that killed her was turning right when it “right-hooked” her.

There are signs along Laurier Avenue warning drivers to yield to cyclists when turning right. But according to a 2013 city report, about 30 per cent of drivers surveyed said they did not see the signage or did not know what it meant.

McKenney says there’s more the city can do. She’s backing the “Vision Zero approach” – a global movement that aims to cut “preventable deaths” on its roadways. In Ottawa, that starts with looking at injuries and deaths on our roads and analyzing what could be done to prevent them in the future.

“We have to put the onus on road design,” she said. “We have got to design our roads so that traffic travels slower, that pedestrians have got safe space to move around, that cyclists have safe space to move around.”

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said no one is perfect – and cities need to better plan for that.

“We know that people make mistakes,” he said. “We should be able to anticipate the kinds of mistakes that people make and then design our streets such that when they make those mistakes, that the results aren’t a catastrophic injury or, worse, death.”

McKenney said the new Booth Street Bridge – which opened over Labour Day weekend sans cycling lanes – is another example.

“We can no longer build Booth Streets without bike lanes,” she said. “We can no longer build overpasses over Queensways without sidewalks. Every single new construction. Every single reconstruction has got to put the level of safety comfort of all users, especially the most vulnerable – pedestrians and cyclists – at the forefront.”

“If it’s safe for pedestrians and cyclists, it’s safe for everyone.”

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