Demonstrators want Jacques Cartier Bridge to be open year-round for bikers and pedestrians
Despite the chilly temperatures, on Sunday dozens of cyclists took to the Jacques-Cartier Bridge to demonstrate against the winter closure of its pedestrian and bike lanes.
The bridge has been closed to cyclists and pedestrians for years, with winter demonstrations almost becoming an annual tradition.
“It’s been at least 25 years since the first protest to try to get [the bridge] open,” said Mike Muchnik, spokesperson for the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists on Jacques Cartier Bridge. “Pretty much everything that’s been done has been ignored by the bridge corporation.”
He said that despite countless meetings, the bridge corporation has refused to open it during the winter months.
“Initially, we were asking just for the gates to be opened,” he said.
Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI) is the government corporation that runs both bridges.
In a statement, the JCCBI cited three challenges that pose winter safety risks to foot and bike commuters: weather conditions of the St. Lawrence River, the path’s irregular geometry, and the risk of falling ice.
“Different options for snow removal and deicing products were analyzed and tested,” the statement said. “However, to date, no viable and safe solution has been identified that will keep cyclists safe at all times on this unique path during the winter.”
Muchnik said that he’s biked across the bridge in all conditions and doesn’t agree with the corporation’s reasoning.
“They talk about black ice, which does not exist on the path,” Muchnik said. “They talk about falling ice. According to their pilot study last year, it specified that there was only a one in 600 chance that ice would fall on the path.”
Others at the demonstration have found that the bridge’s closure interferes with their exercise and fitness regimens.
“I live on the South Shore and work downtown,” said cyclist Sarah Gariepy. “I’m also training for the Boston Marathon. Training in winter is already difficult and it would be a pleasure to cross the bridge and commute while running.”
She also brought up climate change.
“I think that people are more aware than ever about the environment to reduce our emissions of gas,” she said. “I cannot understand how in 2019, the bridge is only for cars.”
Near the end of the event, some commuters broke the bridge’s rules by hopping over the gate.