Have the bicycle accidents of recent weeks given an electroshock to Montreal’s officials? What would have seemed unthinkable a few months ago seems to have become a reality: the neighborhood of Plateau-Mont-Royal has announced the installation of “bike streets” where bicycles will have priority over motor vehicles.
Imported from Europe, this concept of sharing roadways will relieve traffic on bike paths, such as on the Brébeuf’s bike path where traffic jams occur during peak traffic hours. The goal is to also allow cyclists to safely ride on a street far from main streets deemed hazardous for bikes, such as Saint-Denis, for example.
On these small residential streets, cars will be able to continue operating, but bikes will have priority. Signs at intersections and the redevelopment of roadways will clearly display this new configuration. This small urban revolution will start in Plateau-Mont-Royal, but the city of Montreal intends on expanding it to all neighborhoods that ask for it, confirms Aref Salem, who is in charge of transport under mayor Denis Coderre.
“If the demand is there, we will certainly be there. Here on the council, we believe in the bike streets. The congestion on certain bike paths is starting to be felt. We want to resolve this problem.”
According to what has been revealed, Saint-André and de Mentana streets in the heart of Plateau-Mont-Royal have been identified as the locations to welcome the first bike streets. The bike streets will eventually be able to spread to other areas. The city intends to implement the design as soon as next year if everything proceeds as predicted, states Aref Salem.
While waiting for the bike streets, the Projet Montréal party is campaigning for the development of “ciclovías” in the city. A ciclovía is the closure of a major commercial street to automobile traffic for one day a week. Cyclist, pedestrians, and street musicians seize the opportunity presented by the ciclovía and take advantage of the nice weather.
This concept has been met with great enthusiasm in Bogotá, Colombia where 70 kilometers of street are transformed into ciclovía every Sunday from 7:00 a.m to 2:00 p.m. Local business owners love it. Dozens of cities across the world have picked up the concept of the cyclovía, including the Canadian cities of Halifax, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Calgary, Hamilton, and Ottawa.
“A cyclovía is a happening that has a positive impact on the cities that have tried it,” says Marianne Giguère, head of transport for Projet Montréal. The councillor could very well see a ciclovía occurring on Saint-Laurent Boulevard on Sundays during the summer.
Do the positive effects of a ciclovía or open streets event outweigh the inconvenience they pose for drivers?
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.