MONTREAL – It has only been two weeks between the announcement of the mayor of Montreal’s Valerie Plante of the creation of a vast network of cycle tracks and pedestrian and temporary and the establishment of a number of segments of it.
At the end of the summer, 112 km from temp tracks have been installed, and 88 km of streets have been redeveloped to promote active transportation and social distancing.
The speed of the uptake of these “tracks pandemic” – which is made of the admission of the City in “record time” – has already had significant impacts on the lives of Montrealers.
Bike trails, corridors, sanitary facilities, dedicated lanes for pedestrians, sidewalks… roads are mushrooming in the metropolis, and the cohabitation is sometimes in the confusion.
A few hours of observation at several locations in the metropolis have helped to note that many cyclists and joggers were circulated in ways that were not intended.
On Sherbrooke street, near Maisonneuve park, the bike path became devoted to pedestrians from the Insectary, and a new bike lane has been constructed in the street in parallel. During the passage of the “24 Hours”, many riders were missing the change of route and continued on the pedestrian route. “I rode here this morning, people are not accustomed to. A chance that there is a red light. Need to look at because very soon, there is more to the good place,” testified the cyclist Sophie Ayotte.
Surprises and puzzles for the parking
The addition suddenly of the cycle paths was done away with places to park cars, and this creates a headache for Montrealers who do not have private parking.
For example, the new path on the avenue du Parc-La Fontaine scarce parking already few on the Plateau-Mont-Royal and complicated deliveries.
“Before, the drivers could find a place on the side. Now, they do not have the choice to block the street or to block the cycle track”, said Francis Vilandré, who lives on this street.
Danny Bouchard, also a resident of the Plateau, believes that this measure will increase the gentrification of the metropolis. “Only the families and the elderly high income can claim to be able to live in the central districts of Montreal. Only they can afford to pay for parking in these neighbourhoods, which have become overpriced. The mix social is not there”, he said.
The City does not communicate always clearly his plans. Caroline Rolland and Laurent Gaudré, who live on avenue Christophe-Colomb in the district of Villeray, have made the jump to light appear suddenly in front of them a cycle track two-way on each side of the street, which was initially removed all the parking on this important artery.
After a few days, the parking lot was re-established on both sides of the street, between the new bike path and the remaining space for cars. The citizens were never informed of the details, noting the withdrawal, and the addition of seats out of their homes.
The big winners of these new tracks are, of course, the cyclists, who can now move easily on the major axes in montreal where bike traffic was more difficult before.
“I see merit in the establishment of these corridors, I travel by bike in summer as in winter”, mentioned last week Rock Larocque, a cyclist who was using it for the first time the new track on the corner of Rachel street.
Émily Boisvert also appreciated the addition of the tracks that now pass in front of her home, she lives on the avenue Christophe-Colomb.
An increase of 15% to 20% of the bicycle use has been observed in the month of may in Montreal compared to the same period in 2019, according to Eco-Meter, which provides data on active travel in the City.
In some sectors, for example in Ahuntsic, there are even two times more cyclists than last year, said the director of the montreal office of Eco-Counter Jean-Francois Rheault.
On the contrary, in the city centre, one finds fewer bicycle trips than usual, saw the closure of the office buildings.
Too many trails, not enough cyclists?
The volume of cyclists that circulate in the arteries chosen by the City for the installation of “track pandemic” varies a lot depending on the location and may give the impression that there are too many tracks for the number of cyclists.
For example, on the avenue Christophe-Colomb, cyclists now have four lanes for travel. The “24 Hours” has counted the number of cyclists riding on the street, at the height of the rue Everett for an hour on a Tuesday in the late afternoon, and there have been only 56, or less than one per minute.
On the contrary, on Rachel street near the Shop of Angus in Rosemont, some 170 bicycles passed in an hour on the same day.
It is difficult to estimate the number of cyclists and motorists, which will circulate on these streets once the economic activity has resumed; it must be said that no traffic study has not been carried out before the installation of the tracks, since the City wanted to put in place as quickly as possible.
The majority of the tracks are meant to be temporary and designed to last throughout the summer and fall. “The sustainability of the facilities is not yet discussed at this point”, one can read in a document prepared by the City.
Danny Bouchard, resident of the Plateau-Mont-Royal, however, is skeptical, and believes that projet Montréal, the party of the mayor, wants to leave it in place. “I am convinced that it will be permanent”, he said.