The following questions were asked by the Westmount Walking and Cycling Association at the March council meeting. The answers follow each question.
#1 -A questioner from the Westmount Walking and Cycling Association told the city that from information gathered by their group, the proposed entranceways from the Inter-Modal train-metro-bus hub of the Vendome Station, in other words the public transit entranceway, to the MUHC will be inadequate according to expert opinion and improperly designed, passing through the underground parking garage or alternatively by an open air passerelle from the former Air Canada building at 5100 de Maisonneuve, and that the active transport (walking and cycling)entranceway, having been shown in early proposals for the MUHC, is now totally non-existent.
The questioner said that the current design makes Public Transport and Active Transport access to the MUHC so difficult that all, except the most determined patients and staff, will have to access the new hospital by car. This car dependence will increase traffic in Westmount, will have a negative impact on the livability of Westmount, and is in direct opposition to the objective of the upcoming Master Traffic Plan.
The questioner asked if council would take all appropriate actions to address this issue including confirming that WWCA information is correct, and would council join the Westmount Walking and Cycling Association in sending a letter to all relevant parties that expresses the concern that the proposed Public Transit entranceways from the Inter-Modal Vendome station to the MUHC are inadequate, poorly designed, and thus unacceptable and that the complete lack of an Active Transport entranceway is unacceptable; and as a solution the scheduled number of 2700 underground parking stalls should be reduced significantly and the monies saved by this reduction be used to construct a dedicated link to all the platforms of the Inter-Modal hub at the Vendome Station, as well as an Active Transport link to the MUHC site, with all the modern people moving amenities required as well as sufficient infusion of natural daylight, and secure bicycle parking rooms.
The mayor said that the city also has concerns about these plans and needs to get more details. He told the questioner that he could be sure that the city will be getting in touch with the MUHC.
Councillor Lulham agreed wholeheartedly with the questioner. She said there was also a problem with the walking and bicycle path between NDG and Westmount. There is nothing being done with regard to that. It is an extremely dangerous area to cross on a bike or walking. They are not addressing the bicycle path either. Either to get by it or to get to it. She thought that there should be a discussion about it.
The Director General said that the city has monthly meetings with the planning group from the MUHC and will bring it up and ask for more detail. At their last meeting the hospital people said that they had a problem with the current recommendation going through the Vendome metro station to the hospital because there was not enough room. They were looking for an alternate route.
The mayor said that the ultimate goal would be that he will write to Dr Porter or the council will adopt a resolution expressing their concern and make suggestions so it becomes a more pedestrian friendly environment than the one they seem to moving in. Be it through resolution or a letter or both, the mayor said that the council will make their views known.
#2 -Questioner spoke on behalf of WWCA. Cote St Antoine is already a popular cycling route partly because it provides easy access from lower to upper Westmount. It is not safe because there is no bike path. Particularily for those going east against the traffic. Because of schools in the area it would mean the involvement of schools in active transport. Cycling as a way of getting to school is always a good idea.
Montreal would pay for building the path but the request needs to be put in by October to be included in the budget for the following year.
In parallel with the master traffic plan will the city prepare a proposed design for this priority path over the coming months so that it can be submitted to Montreal by October and built in 2012 as part of the master plan implementation?
The mayor said that the agglo idea of preparing a bike path is a paint brush and a can of paint, but if they are in business of building more substantial bike paths he would be happy to take a look at it.
He said that he lives on Cote Ste Antoine and would be very happy to have a bike path on his street, but his neighbour would not. The mayor thinks the street is wide enough. He said that it should be worth looking into. He would be very happy to see a bike path on his street but would have to do a lot of talking to his neighbours..he said that the questioner had heard all of the different arguments from people along paths.
Yes, but thought that gradually that kind of talk would decrease as biking increases.
The mayor asked the Director General if he would check with agglom council about funds. He said that the path could be fed into the city’s Master Traffic Plan. He said the more bike paths the better, because the city would be dividing up the usage over more paths and getting less of a concentrated flow in one area. He recommended a book called Traffic by Tom Vanderbilt. It is in the library.
Councillor Lulham spoke about her attendance at Sustainable Communities conference in Victoria last month. Transport Canada had a booth on active transport. They had all kinds of pictures of bike paths and one like ours on de Maisonneuve (two way bike path on a one way street). Councillor Lulham asked them if they were in favour of these types of bike paths (de Maisonneuve). Transport Canada said absolutely but if they are on a one-way street it must have division between bikes and car traffic, it cannot be just painted with pictures of bicycles. She said that it would be important in terms of the agglom. Would they pay for more than paint?
#3 -On behalf of WWCA the questioner asked if council could provide a further update on Bixi?
The mayor replied, yes, that the city has been negotiating with Bixi trying to get the price down as the city found the price steep. The cost was for 15 stations all over the city including up on the mountain. A problem with putting stations on the mountain is that people don’t want to ride up the mountain and this would mean that trucks would be bringing Bixis up into the mountain locations which the city felt was not very good for people living in the area and not very sustainable either.
The mayor said that the city has decided to try having a fewer number of stations and those would be on the flat. They are currently looking at having five stations on the flat and are negotiating the cost. The Mayor said that Bixi from financial side is somewhat opaque. He said that it is not clear what is going on. The city needs to protect its interest to make sure that the money we do give Bixi is not going into a hole. Within a month the city will probably have some deal worked out. The mayor would like to have a quick and dirty poll survey done for Westmounters to see what they think of the idea. If that goes well there is a possibility of having Bixi by the summer on an experimental basis. It depends on how council votes on it.
I believe that is a good strategy. If the deal comes through and the price is right would the city be willing to promote the use of Bixi, that is to encourage their use?
The mayor said yes, on our web-site and in our letters..no problem. There are 190 people members of BIxi living in Westmount now. This number might go up. One Bixi might mean one person less with a car. We will do it on an experimental basis. It might fall down over reasons such as people complaining about trucks driving all over the place.