A revolution that will require courage

A revolution that will require courage


COPENHAGEN | How difficult it is to revolutionize travel habits – something Bruno Marchand wants to do in Quebec – even in Copenhagen, considered today as the sustainable city par excellence, the mayor received death threats during the implementation of a first pedestrian street. 

Mayor Bruno Marchand (left) wants active mobility to take up a lot more space in Quebec. “I'm going to do it, because I have to, and because people are asking for it,” he said yesterday, after a meeting with Klaus Myging, vice-president of the Copenhagen executive committee, along with Stéphane Boyer, Mayor of Laval, and Julie Bourdon, Mayor of Granby.

It does indeed take a lot of courage on the part of politicians to change habits, as Klaus Myging, vice-president of the executive committee of the Danish capital, argued yesterday. Bruno Marchand met him yesterday at the local town hall.

Mr. Myging says that politicians “may even have to accept not being elected next time […] We must not be afraid to make rules that are unpleasant”, he insisted.

In the case of Copenhagen, the city's main street, Stroget, which stretches for more than a kilometer, became pedestrianized in 1962.

The city center of the capital of Denmark was then literally invaded by cars, a bit like in Quebec.

Bruno Marchand thinks that the future lies in the pedestrian streets, thanks to which he wishes to appease Old Quebec. < /p>

In Copenhagen, the then mayor, Alfred Wassard, wanted to test whether the pedestrian street model could be viable.

Stroget, with its residential and commercial occupation, provided eloquent proof of this, but it earned death threats, no less.

Copenhagens quickly realized the many benefits, however. Citizens were able to reclaim their street. Traders have benefited from this and have set up terraces outside.

Since then, pedestrianized streets have multiplied in Copenhagen, to the point of making its charm.

Idle and unattractive 40 years ago, the city is now a champion of sustainable mobility . 

Pilot projects

To achieve this, however, it is necessary to communicate well with citizens and merchants, as Mr. Myging, who sees pilot projects as an interesting avenue.

Bruno Marchand will have to make sure of this if he wants people to board. In Quebec, half of the merchants oppose the return of the pedestrian street on Cartier, while the citizens are on the contrary favorable to it.

The mayor affirms that if they are not convinced, we will work on other arteries as a priority. 

He cites rue Racine, for example. A pilot project will also get under way in Old Quebec this summer.

More bikes

Then, the example of cycling in Copenhagen, which also stands out as the world capital of cycling despite its northern climate, is also interesting. 

Walking in the streets is fascinating, because you there are more bikes than cars.

“All opposition parties are in favor of cycling in the city today, but that was not the case 14 years ago,” said mentioned Mr Myging. 

In fact, the elected officials of Copenhagen think that everyone who lives within 15 kilometers of the city should get around by bicycle. Services are organized accordingly. 

In Quebec, the winter is harsher, but we are still very far from the mark.

We would benefit from developing the bicycle network, as Mr. Marchand wishes, and as we have done in Montreal.

The mayor specified yesterday that 92% of all trips of five kilometers or less in Quebec City are not on active or public transport.

He promises announcements on cycling corridors in April.

Go back 

I was listening to the Danish elected official yesterday and I thought to myself that the same phenomenon is observed around the world when new projects change travel, whether it is a tram, a pedestrian street or cycle corridors.

< p>Even if there was a lot of opposition at times, no one would go back, quite the contrary. 

The Danish capital's active mobility model cannot be implemented in Quebec City as such, for reasons of density, proximity and size of the city, agrees Bruno Marchand.

He nevertheless believes that Quebec can be inspired by its transformation. 

< p>Quebec is far from being idle, of course, but we must see to its attractiveness before getting there.

And there is no escaping it: active mobility is essential as a factor in modern cities.

A revolution that will require courage