NDG residents stage protest over contentious bike path
MONTREAL -- Residents in Cote-des-Neiges-Notre-Dame-de-Grace took part in a demonstration Tuesday morning telling the borough they want divisive bike lanes removed – and quickly.
Borough Mayor Sue Montgomery confirmed to CJAD Tuesday morning that the newly installed bike lanes on Terrebonne St. will be removed on Oct. 1. Residents, though, want to see the lane removed by Sept. 9.
The bike path has become a flashpoint issue in the community, pitting local residents against cyclists and the borough.
"There are tons of different opinions on this," said Borough Mayor Sue Montgomery in the CJAD interview.
A petition to remove the bike paths has garnered some 2,000 signatures and includes a list of demands.
"First we want the borough to reverse its decision of June 22 effective immediately. And to restore Terrebonne to the way it was on July 16," said Dania Lisney, who started the petition along with other residents. The other demands are for a formal public consultation and for the borough to conduct a needs assessment in the area.
Part of a shared street initiative, the bike lanes were set up on a trial basis, allowing the borough to see how it worked in the community. The bike lanes also included road paint telling residents to slow down as well as a new "no stopping" sign. The borough's administration said it would alter or remove the lanes if necessary.
Opposition councillor Lionel Perez called the bike lanes a "total failure" and a "nuisance."
"We have an old-age home that can’t have people drop them off, we have churches that cannot have any kind of funerals," he said. "It’s created such a difficult situation. Hundreds of parking spots have been removed, so we’re saying it’s been an attempt, it’s a failure, let’s go ahead and have it removed."
Father Ray Lafontaine wrote to the borough to say it has jeopardized religious gatherings at his church.
"You can imagine the difficulty with a funeral if the hearse has nowhere to park to take a coffin out. Same thing for weddings and baptisms," he said.
Members of the community said that rather than remove it, as of Tuesday, the borough was setting up more bike lanes along Terrebonne St.
Montgomery said borough councillors voted unanimously in favour of establishing the lanes.
“I am reading all the emails. I understand there is opposition. I also understand there’s lots of support. I represent everyone, not just the people on Terrebonne,” she said. “There’s one gentleman that lives on Terrebonne who’s in a wheelchair, who’s very happy with the bike path because he’s able to go with his kids, on their bikes, and he can take his wheelchair on the bike path.”
The pilot project was slated to last until November.