Saturday, December 01, 2007

Another noncyclist thinks de Maisonneuve bike path is stupid

This writer thinks that the bike path is a stupid idea, and no one uses it. I have to admit that when a bike path opens at the beginning of November, it's isn't going to be an instant hit. I do have to say that the city has a responsibility to create safe bikeways to permit cyclists to travel to and through the downtown core without risking certain death by Montreal's famous dangerous drivers. Let's see, this bike path is 0.01% of Quebec's infrastructure spending.

Her points about increased spending for infrastructure and operations of public transport are valid, but admit it, are completely separate to the bike path. The bike path is one part of the transport equation. It's a mix of pedestrians, bikes, cars, buses, trains, and the metro.

The writer claims Montreal is a "top ten city for cycling from a 8 year old survey. See this entry of my blog for Montreal's ranking today. We are falling behind.

I think that we can classify the writer as anti-cycling.

As city crumbles, bike paths get star treatment
Published: Thursday, November 29

Last week, my son decided that it was too cold to ride his bike and that he would walk or take the bus to school.

I thought this was very sensible. Biking is an uncomfortable and almost impossible mode of transportation during the winter months. Streets can be icy and dangerous, bikes parked outside get covered in snow, and sand and salt are very hard on gears. If my son had still been biking to school last Thursday, I don't know how he would have managed to scrape off the ice and ride on the slippery streets.

I work downtown and there weren't too many cyclists on our new bike path, either. Is this a surprise to anyone? I am all for exercise and reducing pollution, but I am not an enthusiastic fan of our new bike path. I thought about it as I waited almost an hour for the 7:42 train that arrived at 8:35 and again on the way home as the train stopped for 15 minutes at Dorval, making me late for an important appointment. What is the wisdom of investing money in a bicycle path in the downtown core? If we were a city that enjoyed a surplus, then I probably wouldn't be writing this article.

But when our infrastructure is crumbling, when bridges collapse, when highway lanes and on-ramps are closed because they are not safe, when our water is leeching through old pipes, when our hospitals and schools have mould, when we have no money to fix these major problems, who thought that it would be a bright idea to spend an estimated $3.7 million on a downtown bike path? I did a little research and learned that in 2005, there were 5,000 daily trips by bicycle in downtown Montreal. With 300,000 workers and 120,000 students, there is potential for growth. But how about investing some money in the trains that transport many of these 420,000 workers and students downtown? According to Bicycling Magazine, in 1999, Montreal was rated one of the best cities in North America in which to bike. Note that this is before the downtown bike path was built.

Apparently, the key to success of a bike path is access to public transportation.

In Montreal, bikes are not permitted on buses and a maximum of four bikes are allowed in the first car on the m├ętro during non-peak hours and if there are no special events taking place, like the Grand Prix or the fireworks competition.

As I write this article, the bicycle path on de Maisonneuve Blvd. is icy in places with patches of salt here and there.

The odd cyclist that I saw was on the street. This week, when I boarded the train at the Valois station, the platform was not even salted and it was a tricky business for hundreds of people to get on the train rather than end up underneath it.

Apparently, they are going to clear the snow off the bike path throughout the winter.

I can only hope that some of our tax dollars will also be spent on clearing the platforms at the train stations.

Suzanne Korf is a professional fundraiser who has worked for non-profit organizations for more than 25 years and is a director of development for the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation. She lives in Pointe Claire.


At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

At a time when the Montreal highway infrastructure is so damaged, introducing the bike path is a good idea. The roads and highways in the summer and fall of 2007 were so congested with traffic due to the many construction areas and blocked overpasses, that offering an alternative to driving is reasonable. Also, with the hike in parking meter fees, I'm certain that many drivers will change their mode of transport, especially if they are working or going to school in the downtown core.

I'm not entirely certain that the bike path is such a success in the winter, though. The city only clears it when there is a set amount of snow accumulation, and I've noticed that because of the buildup of ice on it, cyclists are preferring to ride on the roads instead.


Post a Comment

<< Home