Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Cyclist and pedestrian group demands safer, protected bike paths in NDG

By Isaac Olson
Members of the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of NDG (APC NDG) gathered in front of the Benny Library and Cultural Centre on May 5 holding up signs demanding safer bike paths in the district.

About two dozen sign-holding members of the APC NDG gathered despite the rain, holding up bilingual signage with slogans such as “protegez les cyclists” or “we need concrete barriers on de Maisonneuve bike path.” 

This demonstration was held as politicians, borough staff and citizens streamed into the building for the monthly Côte des Neiges—NDG borough meeting.

“Other cities in Canada are moving forward with bike paths,” Deanne Delaney told the council during the question period. She cited the city of Vancouver as a specific example while reminding councillors that the non-profit advocacy group submitted a bike plan proposal on August 7, 2016 and have since "been asking for news and updates, coming to borough meetings, to no avail.”

A meeting with borough officials is slated for late June. Delaney said the group now feels listened to  but the need for safe bike paths in NDG has not been resolved. By safe, she noted, the group is not just talking about lane lines painted on the road, but actual infrastructure that protects cyclists of all ages. 

As one of the signs stated in French: "Don't wait for the death of a cyclist."

She reminded the mayor that he is invited to come on a bike ride with the group to tour the de Maisonneuve bike path. That path, she said, needs more protection and “other measures” to reduce vehicular speed as motorists use the street as an east-to-west connection, bypassing the traffic lights on Sherbrooke St.

Borough mayor Russell Copeman said the bike path plan had been received and “our borough services have been looking at it.” Reflections on that plan will be shared in late June during the meeting, he said. He said he accepts the invitation to go on a bike ride with the group and he plans to take advantage of Bixi for that trip which, he said, will likely happen in August.

Earlier in the meeting, Loyola district councillor Jeremy Searle suggested that the de Maisonneuve bike path be raised up on concrete to further protect cyclists because motorists will be less inclined to drive on the path if there is a curb to hop. As it is, despite the bollards, motorists are regularly seen weaving onto the path to avoid slow or turning cars. Trucks are also known to cross into the path while making wide-sweeping, right-hand turns onto de Maisonneuve. 

This protest and discussion comes as the fight for a green pedestrian and cyclist bridge connecting NDG to LaSalle over the highway and Turcot rail yard continues to build steam.  At noon on June 11, an assembly is planned to further that fight and make that bridge a reality. Known as the “dalle-parc” in French, the gathering begins at 6450 Notre Dame St. W. For more information, make sure to check out the Facebook page dedicated to this cause.

NDG district councillor Peter McQueen has been leading the charge for this bike bridge, saying it is important that NDGers have access to the Lachine Canal, Angringon Park and everything else to the south of the highway. Otherwise, cyclists and pedestrians have to go to Westmount or Montreal West to get south of Route 20. He invited the public to attend the June 11 assembly. 

"They're building road bridges over what is going to be the new highway down there," said Mcqueen during the meeting. "They're building them all in advance, so they should be building the bicycle bridge too."

Like and follow the APC NDG Facebook page to stay updated on these issues.

Deanne Delaney addresses the council. All photos: Isaac Olson

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