Rachel street and Lachine canal - unsafe bike paths?
For some strange, possibly insane, reason we took the Rachel street bike path last night.
This path is insane, and insanely dangerous.
It crosses many side-streets, is next to a sidewalk full of people who step off on to the bike path frequently without looking, is full of aggressive and not-traffic-law-obeying cyclists who pass with no bell-ringing or even space to pass, has roller bladers going side by side blocking the whole path, has dogs, kids, and a line of parked cars making cyclists invisible to the passing (and turning!) cars. There's probably a few more ways to die on this path that I didn't notice, but I was only there for ten minutes.
Basically this path is a nightmare.
For safe bicycling, we greatly prefer going a mere two blocks north to the east-west boulevard Saint-Joseph, which has a wide section of free space between the two lanes of car traffic and the parked cars. Cyclists are, therefore, visible to the cars and vice-versa. We are far from sidewalk madness. The occasional car door is a hazard, but cyclists can ride a metre from the parked cars and I consider this a lot safer than the old-school Rachel street bike path. I'll say it again, there is no crazier or more dangerous path than the Rachel path.
Cycle Fun Montreal believes that bicycle and car traffic must share the public roadways, with a well-marked bike pane integrated into the regular traffic flow, and cyclists must obey the same traffic laws and indications like stop signs and lights as car drivers.
The separate bike lane blind-to-cars-style bike paths like Rachel are obsolete. (And highly dangerous.)
For a look at a new-style segregated bike path, consider Avenue du Parc between Pine avenue and Rachel: it is wide and it is separated from the sidewalk, overall it is a much safer segregated bike path. Another example of a modern segregated path is de Maisonneuve downtown: there are no parked cars between the bike path and the cars. Visibility=safety in our opinion. (cyclists obeying stop lights = safety too, in our opinion.)
For even more craziness, try the Lachine canal after work sometime.
The Lachine Canal bike path is another outdated and obsolete and highly-dangerous path. This narrow and bumpy path is shared by pedestrians, baby strollers, runners, cyclists going slow, cyclists going fast, dogs, roller bladers side by side, clueless folks with headphones on and oblivious to everything happening around them, and they are all sharing a path that is very rough and bumpy, and is too narrow for the type and volume of traffic and the quantity of traffic that this bike path attracts (it does, after all, have a great location.)
A bicycle path should be a safe place to cycle.
Neither Rachel street or the Lachine Canal are safe paths.
This has been a Cycle Fun Montreal safety rant!