Monday, May 19, 2008

Bike path through McGill Campus? No says McGill University

The Gazette reports today that while the city likes to talk up it's cycling credentials (cycling is important, blah blah blah), the reality on the ground is that many companies and institutions are way behind in providing simple and inexpensive infrastructure, most notably: the simple task of providing places to park a bicycle!

Other institutions are simply refusing to provide links to bike paths through their private land. A good example of this is McGill University's resistance to letting bicyclists pedal "the easiest way" (i.e. the wrong way on a one-way street) through the university campus. The alternative: a tiny hill and a 100-foot-extra-distance detour. (Oh, boohoo poor cyclists who wouldn't know wrong-way on a one-way street if it bit them on the ass.) McGill's poorly-marked (ok, completely unmarked) detour would keeps cyclists riding in the correct direction: flowing "with the traffic" and not against the flow of traffic and around blind corners into car bike and foot traffic.

What part of common sense / common ground do these two sides not understand: McGill to paint a bike path line through the campus along their approved route. And cyclists, who apparently need a security guard to prevent themselves from getting hit by cars when they go the wrong way on a one-way street, need to follow the legal route through the campus.

The bike path permits hundreds of students to arrive safely by bicycle, directly to the campus. The university needs to get a dose of civisme and paint a path from the university gate on University street through the campus to the main Roddick gates on Sherbrooke street.

Oh. did I mention that the university wants to force cyclists to ride the wrong way--against busy traffic-- down University street to get to the de Maisonneuve bike path? Thanks for nothing you elitist institution without any apparent civic virtue.

Here's the link to the article.

Here's a teaser:

Bicycle Beefs

It's good for our health, budget and planet, so why are there so many roadblocks to cycling in the city?


Montreal is well on its way to regaining its title of most cyclable city in North America, and Quebec's Route Verte is now attracting cyclo-tourists from all over the world. So why is it taking so long for some Montreal institutions and businesses to get with the program?

Bikes are not just for kids and kooks and crazy couriers anymore. More and more, Montrealers are realizing it makes sense for environmental, health and financial reasons to use their bikes to get to and from work, school or wherever they have to go in a day.

So I tip my helmet to a city administration that, while not the greenest on every issue, has done more in the past few years for the bike-path network than any administration in recent memory. And though painted lines on roads to delineate bikeways are not ideal in a city where motorists routinely ignore stop signs and red lights, I am flabbergasted daily at how many drivers actually do steer clear of the new bike lanes.


My beef today is not with the city of Montreal administration, or with drivers. It is with some of the other institutions and businesses in town for not waking up and smelling the bike grease (aren't you glad I didn't say body odour?). The city should not be alone in encouraging cycling. Stores, malls, universities, schools and other institutions need to do what they can to encourage this trend. In the end, we'll all benefit from a more bike-friendly town through cleaner air, lighter traffic and better looking, fitter citizens.

Also, why don't more stores and restaurants just attach a metal bar to their exterior walls for cyclists to lock their bikes to? I know of at least one restaurant and one health food store in my neighbourhood with these bars, and their cycling clientele clearly appreciate the gesture. St. Laurent Blvd. is sadly lacking in bike parking, especially during this endless construction phase, because of missing parking meters....

But my most pointed rant on this subject is reserved for McGill University, and its refusal to put a bike path through its downtown campus. This campus is a favoured route for cyclists going to and from downtown from all points east and north.

Vélo Québec estimates that more than 3,000 cyclists go through the University St. gates every day in good weather, and it's no wonder. It's a gorgeous break from city riding, it allows one to avoid the terrifying traffic on Sherbrooke St. and it's relatively safe from vehicles.

Here's the link to the article.


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