Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Montreal's new policy: narrower streets to deter cyclists?

Notice the new-and-not-improved narrower intersection at top of photo

We are wondering if it is official city of Montreal policy when rebuilding streets to make the new version much narrower than the old street, in order to deter cyclists and force them onto bike paths and side streets?

We first observed this trend with the rebuilt boulevard St-Laurent (Sherbrooke to Mont Royal section) becoming much narrower with the rebuilt narrower street and wider sidewalk.

Next, we noticed that the side streets which abut Cote-Ste-Catherine have narrower intersections, ostensibly to make it faster for pedestrians to cross the intersection, but also to prevent the possibility of a car and a bicycle stopped side-by-side at the intersection while waiting for the green light. (actually, it doesn't prevent cyclists and cars together, it just makes it more hazardous)

This wouldn't be so bad if the streets remained wide and safe (and marked) where there is a dedicated bike lane or shared bike-car lane already existing, but even on these streets the street width has been narrowed. An excellent example of this is Villeneuve street where it meets Cote-Ste-Catherine (which has a new bike path corridor for "active" transport) , and which is the intersection that joins the two bike paths on Cote-Ste-Catherine and Villeneuve streets into one continuous cycling route. Villeneuve has been radically narrowed at the intersection, so there is very little space remaining for a bicycle to ride in our designated right-side-of-road location.

What is the point of a new bike path (for safety) on Cote Ste-Catherine when the side street intersections become kill-zones for cyclists?

We wonder if this is a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing. In any case, it seems to be a city-of-Montreal roads department design trend, and one that we do not like one bit.

We have asked it before and we will ask it again, what does the city of Montreal have against cyclists?


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