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Mother of teen killed at Island intersection consoles cyclist hit at same spot

Experienced cyclist struck Monday at Cedar Hill Cross Road and Merriman Drive
Paul O’Callaghan was hit while cycling on Cedar Hill Cross Road near Merriman Drive, the same intersection where Saanich teen Kaydence Bourque was killed. O’Callaghan, at home recovering from a broken ankle and many cuts and bruises, calls on the District of Saanich to improve safety for cyclists in this area. (Photo courtesy of Paul O’Callaghan)

Residents are calling on the District of Saanich to prioritize high-risk crossings and corridors, after a cyclist was injured at the same intersection where Saanich teen, Kaydence Bourque, was killed at in December 2021 just steps from his home.

Paul O’Callaghan was struck at Cedar Hill Cross Road and Merriman Drive while cycling Monday (Feb. 8) at about 3 p.m.

He was knocked unconscious and when he came to, a woman was tearfully comforting him. Unbeknownst to O’Callaghan at that moment, the woman was Bourque’s mother, who saw the commotion from her nearby home and came to help.

“Before it happened I became aware of a white pickup truck really, really close to me,” he told Black Press Media. “There was a big trailer on the back of their truck and the next thing I know I was hit, bounced off the trailer and was catapulted into the air.”

Luckily, O’Callaghan said, he landed away from the road and onto the grass. He still came away with a broken ankle and was bruised and scraped up, but is grateful to be OK, all things considered.

“Police and fire crews arrived and the driver did stay on the scene, but well away from me, he didn’t come to see how I was – he did nothing but stare.”

On the other hand Bourque’s mother was a huge help, he said, an angel who helped to keep him calm as he regained consciousness.

“She was leaning over me and stroking my forehead, it’s incredible what she did, she put my needs first and is such a wonderful person.”

The experience prompted O’Callaghan to call for adoption of more progressive roadway rules, such as allowing cyclists to take the whole lane where no room for bikes exists, instead of being forced to ride on the shoulder. Reducing vehicle speeds would also help, he added.

“In the UK, bicycles and pedestrians are prioritized,” he said, adding it seems vulnerable road users in B.C. get the short end of the stick.

ALSO READ: Fundraiser started for family of teen who died after being struck in Saanich crosswalk

Better Mobility Saanich spokesperson Dean Murdock said this incident is extremely upsetting, since it could have easily resulted in another fatality.

“Slowing vehicle speeds is the single most effective way to reduce road fatalities,” he said.

His group is seeking a five-year action plan to address what it calls dangerous roadways, while the District of Saanich received direction recently from council to accelerate its active transportation plan to 15 years.

“That’s a motion asking for a staff report and we can’t wait for more planning,” said Murdock, who is also a declared 2022 mayoral candidate. “While we’re waiting, Saanich should at the very least fix those crossings where we’ve already had fatalities to ensure our community doesn’t experience another death.”

Saanich’s active transportation plan provides direction on prioritizing infrastructure upgrades and education programs, and lobbying higher levels of government to increase road safety, said director of engineering Harley Machielse.

“Our heartfelt condolences go out to our residents who have been affected by a serious road collision. We strive to improve the safety of our transportation system for all users and recognize there is much more work to be done,” he said.

ALSO READ: 2 bodies found in Saanich parking lot, deaths don’t appear suspicious, police say

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