Two cyclists contend with traffic on on St-Denis St. on Monday.
Allen McInnis / Montreal Gazette
When Mayor Valérie Plante announced the first details of the planned Express Cycling Network this week, lost in the hoopla over that 184-kilometre network, to be completed at some unspecified future date, was the regular program of bike path development for 2019-2020.For the second year in a row, the Projet Montréal administration plans to develop fewer kilometres of bikeways than previous administrations. The city intends to put in 26 km of new bikeways in 2019-2020. Last year’s program, which covered 2018-2019, promised 33 km. So far, 24 km of that have been completed and the rest are expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Between 2008 and 2017, the city of Montreal developed an average of 46 kilometres of bikeways per year.The budget of $15 million for bikeway development is the same as last year’s figure, and cycling advocates say that is nowhere near what the city should be investing to respond to the climate crisis and meet its own goals to get significant numbers of Montrealers out of their cars and onto bicycles.“There is no sense of urgency,” said Daniel Lambert of the Montreal Bike Coalition.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante takes a Bixi for a spin around the Hall of Honour at Montreal city mall on Friday, April 12, 2019.
John Mahoney /
But Marianne Giguère, executive committee member responsible for developing the cycling network, said the Plante administration is not measuring success by the kilometre. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette Wednesday, Giguère said Projet Montréal is still very dedicated to a paradigm shift toward active transportation. The approach to getting there is different from previous administrations, she said, and much is happening behind the scenes that is not reflected in the yearly kilometre count or the budget for bike network development.“We have always said we are not just going to paint a whole lot of lines on the road wherever, just to get a high kilometre count” like previous administrations, she said. “Often those projects were less structuring, less useful. They made up kilometres, but they didn’t add quality to the network. We said we will do fewer kilometres, but they will be better quality, safer and have more impact.”The fact that the budget for the bike network program is lower than in previous years is misleading, she said. Her administration is investing much more in planning and expertise than previous administrations.The administration has created 11 new jobs in the Mobility Department — professional engineers, urban planners and others — who are doing the upstream planning for a better network of regular bike paths, in addition to designing the Express Cycling Network (Reseau Express Vélo, or REV). Their salaries are covered in the city’s operating budget, she notes, so are not reflected as an increase in the bike network program budget.Also, the Plante administration has focused on making certain problem streets safer for cyclists as quickly as possible, even if that means removing parking and painting bike lanes, such as on Pine Ave. or putting up some bollards on existing bike lanes where vehicles often encroach, like McGill St. in Old Montreal.
A ghost bike, a bike painted all white, was installed in Montreal, in 2014 at this site where Salim Aouadi, 43, died when he was hit by a CN semi-trailer while cycling.
Dave Sidaway /
“These are small gestures, that really change things,” without costing a lot, she said. “But the REV is the proof that cycling is a key priority for our administration,” she said. “We are doing better, not just more. Not just painting lines on pavement. The REV will be pleasant, comfortable and safe, and will not just please current cyclists but it will encourage those who don’t dare travel by bike now to get out of their cars and try cycling.”She did acknowledge bike path development is not going as fast as she would like. She said it is taking time for civil servants in some boroughs to adjust to the Projet Montréal agenda. Some boroughs are more proactive and have more professional resources than others when it comes to getting work done. Also, bike path projects often stall or have to be postponed because of major infrastructure roadwork or because bids come in too high.Of the 29 projects announced Monday in the 2019-2020 program, more than half were already announced last year, in the 2018-2019 program. Some examples of projects announced last year and not yet completed: the “bike boulevard” on St-André St. in the Plateau-Mont-Royal; a bike lane along Notre-Dame-de-Grâce Ave. from Girouard Ave. in N.D.G. to Claremont Ave. in Westmount; a bike lane along Guy St. from de Maisonneuve Blvd. in the Ville-Marie borough to William St. in the Sud-Ouest.New projects announced in the 2019-2020 program include: a bike lane on Clark St. in Plateau-Mont-Royal from Pine Ave. to Rachel St.; a bike lane on Masson St. in Rosemont-La-Petite-Patrie from Molson St. to 1st Ave.; and a bike path on Cavendish Blvd. from Thimens Blvd. to Dr. Frederik Philips Blvd. in St-Laurent.email@example.comRelated