While the majority of Laval’s residents go to work by automobile, Florent Dufort leaves his house on bike every morning in order to go to work in the Quartier des spectacles neighborhood in downtown Montreal. “In Laval, people are not prone to use bikes and those who do so are seen as strange,” says Dufort who lives near the Cartier metro station. Going to work takes him about forty minutes every morning and evening. “It clears the mind, keeps you in shape, and it costs less than going there by car,” he says. As a father of three, he uses his car for trips or transportation with his family during the weekend.
There are some 37,000 residents of Laval who regularly use bicycles to go to work or school, according to a study done by Vélo Québec in 2010. For a population of 400,000 inhabitants at the time, this represents 9% of the population.
Insufficient Bike Paths?
In order to go to Montreal, Florent Dufort takes the Viau Bridge, smaller and less busy than the others, which contains a path for pedestrians and cyclists. Despite this advantage, he notes several problems with Laval’s bicycle path infrastructure. “There are some stretches of path, but it isn’t for real traffic, it is more for leisure,” he says. The same goes for Vélo Québec, who note that the system in Laval is “strictly for recreational purposes.” “There is a lack of development of transportation meant for work and study. This deficiency makes cyclist risk finding themselves more frequently in dangerous situations with motorists,” says Jean-François Pronovost, who is Vice President of Development and Public Affairs for Vélo Québec.
Developing the System
“The roads in the suburbs are dangerous. Several drivers stop too abruptly, do not look before turning, or back out of their garages without checking ,” says Dufort. According to him, it would be necessary to develop the bike path network in Laval in order to encourage a better coexistence between cyclists and motorists. “In Montreal, they have developed expressways running north-south and east-west. In this way it is easier to travel while remaining on a bike path,” he says.
Laval’s network currently covers 175 kilometers, and the city has recently adopted a plan for active transportation in order to accord a better position to active transportation on foot and on bikes, together with public transportation. The city intends to invest forty-eight million dollars during the next five years in order to create ninety kilometers of bicycle path. From now until the 2031, the city wants to make the proportion of travel done on foot or bicycle rise from 7% to 14%.
Do you think that safety concerns are a significant deterrent for people who are reluctant to use bicycles, especially in busy metro areas?
Original article, originally published in French, here.
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.