Cycling advocates say the Projet Montréal administration is moving far too slowly to implement its promised “express cycling network,” given the urgency of the climate crisis and the need to encourage Montrealers to shift to cleaner forms of transportation.Mayor Valérie Plante revealed some long-awaited details of the Réseau Express Vélo Monday, following more than a year of public consultations and study. She said that in the long term, the REV will consist of 184 kilometres of wide, protected bike routes along 17 north-south and east-west axes that will criss-cross the island with cooperation from other island municipalities.In the shorter term, her administration plans to have the first five axes of the REV in place by 2021, although not in their permanent form, she said. Eventually these wide, mostly uni-directional bike routes will be built on a higher level than the roadway or separated from car lanes with permanent concrete barriers.But until major roadwork is needed on three of these routes, the REV will be installed in what she called its “transitional” phase, with painted lines, bollards, planters and other temporary barriers, which she said will clearly mark the routes, and greatly improve safety for cyclists. In addition, some 200 traffic lights will be updated with separate indications for cyclists and pedestrians where needed.“As it is now, travelling around Montreal is a source of great stress for everybody,” Plante said. “So maintaining the status quo is simply not an option for us. What we are aiming to accomplish with the REV is to relieve some of the pressure that is currently placed on the road network, for everyone’s well-being; pedestrians, cyclists, public transit users and drivers.”
Map of first five axes of the Réseau Express Vélo (source: City of Montreal)
Montreal Gazette /
Plante promised work will begin on the following five axes as early as this summer, with just over 31 kilometres of “transitional” REV in place by the end of her current mandate, in late 2021:Berri-Lajeunesse-St-Denis: This 10-kilometre north-south route will stretch from Gouin Blvd. in Ahuntsic along Lajeunesse and then St-Denis and Berri Sts. to downtown. Viger: A-7.6 kilometre east-west axis along St-Antoine St., St-Jacques St. and Viger Ave. stretching from de Courcelle St. in the west to Berri St. in the east. Souligny: This axis will stretch 5.3 kilometres along Souligny Ave. between Dickson St. and Hector St. in the Mercier-Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough Peel: Already underway, this 2.1-kilometre axis along the southern portion of Peel St. will connect the De Maisonneuve Blvd. bike path to the Lachine Canal path, through Griffintown. De Bellechasse: a 6.2 kilometre east-west axis along de Bellechasse St. between St-Laurent Blvd. to Chatelain St. in Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie. Only a tiny segment of the REV, a section of Viger St., will be completed in its permanent form by 2021, Plante said, but she said the transitory phase will be a huge improvement.“Just because this first phase is transitory doesn’t mean it won’t keep people safe. The traffic lights will be adjusted, and that will prevent a lot of accidents. There will be vegetation and planters. … (Having this transition phase) is a way to mark the territory as soon as possible (with) infrastructure that will make it very, very clear where the cyclists and the cars should be,” adding this new level of safety will encourage many who don’t dare to commute by bicycle now to give it a try.Plante could not estimate how many parking spaces or vehicle lanes will be removed to make way for even this first phase of the REV, but she acknowledged cars will be losing space to bicycles under the plan.“We will be doing what is necessary for safe bike paths to exist,” she said. “Ultimately if we want to have more people on their bikes, and less people in their cars in the city, we need to make the changes that are necessary.”
Artist’s conception of protected express bike lane on Lajeunesse St. The path will be raised and separated from the roadway, wide enough to eliminate the danger of dooring by parked cars.
City of Montreal
Cycling advocates said the idea of building wide, safe, and direct routes across the city for cyclists is a great one, but they charged that the Plante administration is not investing enough money fast enough in the network to fulfill the promises upon which her party was elected.During the 2017 election campaign, Plante said a Projet Montréal administration would spend $25 million on cycling infrastructure each year over the next decade, and would build the REV at a rate of 35 kilometres per year.According to Monday’s announcement, the city will spend only $15 million in 2019-2020 on cycling infrastructure. This funding will cover work on the first 31.2 km of the REV, plus 26 km of new regular cycling lanes, upgrades to five kilometres of existing lanes, 10 kilometres of anti-dooring corridors (widening bike lanes beside parking lanes, to protect cyclists from doors opening into their path), and 20 new “bike boxes” at intersections, which allow cyclists to wait in front of stopped cars for the light to change.Dan Lambert, a spokesperson for the Montreal Bike Coalition, said the new administration is budgeting about the same amount as the previous administration had budgeted annually on cycling infrastructure: $15 million.Executive committee member Marianne Giguère acknowledged this, but countered that the previous administration rarely spent the budgeted amount on cycling infrastructure.But Lambert argues the city should be investing at least triple that amount if Projet Montréal wants to meet its stated goal of pushing the proportion of trips made by bicycle to 15 per cent. Currently, about three per cent of all trips are made by bike in Montreal.Lambert was also disappointed the city seems to have no plan to put a bike lane along Sherbrooke St., where he claims an average of 50 collisions between cars and cyclists occur each year. Plante said adding a bike route to Sherbrooke St. is very complicated, but she is not ruling out the possibility at some point.
Cyclists ride north on St-Denis St. in Montreal, on Monday, May 27, 2019.
Allen McInnis /
Suzanne Lareau of Vélo Québec said she is pleased to see the city moving away from the 1980s model of building narrow, two-way bike lanes in an effort to take up as little room as possible on the roadway.And she was not concerned that in the short term, the REV lanes will be only separated from the roadway using bollards and planters, instead of permanent barriers. She said this will allow the city to ensure the lanes are in the right locations, wide enough, etc. before making them permanent.But she was disappointed that no clear completion schedule for the full network was announced.“The REV is super interesting, but everything depends on the speed of completion,” she said. “The Champlain Bridge was built in three years, so I don’t see why they can’t build this network in six or eight years.”She also wants the city to implement a better network of bike lanes in the downtown core, and do more to provide safe temporary routes while so many construction projects are underway downtown.Asked if she is worried about merchants pushing back because of lost parking, Plante pointed to recent studies done in North American cities showing that adding safe bike paths to commercial streets can improve business for merchants, because cyclists can easily stop and shop.Alain Deschamps, a spokesperson for Ghost Bikes Montreal, a group that aims to reduce the number of cyclists killed and injured in collisions with motor vehicles, called the REV “one of the most ambitious infrastructure announcements for bikes that I’ve seen in a long time.”firstname.lastname@example.orgRelated
Cyclists cross St-Denis St. at Rachel St. in Montreal, on Monday, May 27, 2019.
Allen McInnis /