Cyclists to take over Montreal streets -- including on Mount Royal
It's the summer of the cyclist in Montreal.
On multiple occasions this summer the city of Montreal plans to ban cars from multiple streets for hours at a time.
That includes a complete ban on cars from Camillien-Houde Way on six separate Sundays between 7:30 a.m. and noon from May until October, and on Monk Blvd. in the Southwest borough on four Sundays.
The dates for the mountain are May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16, and October 7, while Monk Blvd. will be reserved for cyclists on June 17, July 15, August 19, and September 16.
Mayor Valerie Plante says the plan, called Cyclovia 2018, is an "extraordinary occasion for Montrealers to take back their streets."
This is the fourth annual event of its kind in the city, though it is the first time it will be held on Camilien-Houde.
The events will include entertainment, including a dance troupe and physical activities like a climbing wall.
“It's a great way to encourage people to take their city and do their shopping as well and just enjoy the street differently,” she said.
The organizers say it's a great way for cyclists and their families to get comfortable bicycling on city streets.
Pedestrians are also welcome to use the stretch of road during the events.
Plante said the city is doubling its financial contribution to the project, spending $70,000 in 2018, and plans to spend more next year. She is also encouraging the boroughs to hold their own Cyclovia events, saying they will benefit from city funding as well.
Southwest Borough Councillor Alain Vaillancourt said the cycling events have become more popular each year. He said they promote a healthy lifestyle, are free and accessible.
He said he has received a few complaints from merchants over the years worrying they'll interfere with business and deliveries but he said they've been able to find solutions in the past.
“There was a Jean Coutu that was worried about the older people coming in because everyone thought the street was closed and there was no access. But it's not – the intersections are still open and there are street lights so you still have to respect the intersections and there's not a beginning and an end. It's not a race. You have the circuit and you can come on and off wherever you want, so the few pushbacks I had, we sat with them and found the positive things to make it work for them,” he said.
Plante was asked if she thinks this administration might be seen as anti-car, and she said no.
“I dont see this as an anti-car initiative. I think it would be reductive to limit it to this it is three hours once a month, once every two months, where we close a piece of the street. Let’s put it this way and we welcome all kinds of citizens, whether they are cyclists or pedestrians and family to enjoy again the street from a different perspective,” she said.
The Montreal Bike Coalition said that while the event is a step in the right direction, it doesn't go far enough.
Right now, 3 per cent of Montrealers use their bikes regularly. In order for the city to achieve its goal of 15 per cent in eight years, much more than a street festival needs to be done, said CVMBC spokesperson Dan Lambert.
“It’s real simple. Projet Montreal has to put protected bike paths on arteries so that people who want to get around by bike can do so safely,” he said.
Project Montreal has taken steps to improve safety for cyclists on the road, including banning through traffic on Camillien-Houde after the death of an 18-year-old cyclist.
The mayor said city is working on a guide to be released shortly with all the details about accessing the site and programming.
Meanwhile Cyclovia organizers are also planning a bicycle ride on Mount Royal on Saturday June 2 to mark the first day without through traffic on the mountain.
Through traffic over Mount Royal is being banned as of June 2 as part of a pilot project that will last until October.