BIKE PATH DESIGN DISASTER

See a letter sent to Mayor Applebaum from the WWCA.  The end of the letter has   videos attached which show the problems for cyclists going east and west on the area of the de Maisonneuve bike path between Claremont and Decarie.  The whole area including the intersection at Decarie and de Maisonneuve is poorly designed and dangerous for cyclists.  And this area is slated to be extremely busy when the MUHC is built.

Dear Mayor Applebaum,

Our association is writing to you because we are concerned about NDG developments which affect Westmount residents.

We realise that you are aware of the serious problems with the de Maisonneuve bike path between Decarie and Claremont and that the borough has recently attempted to improve the situation during the construction of the new train bridge at the Decarie/de Maisonneuve intersection.

However the current situation between Decarie and Claremont is truly chaotic and dangerous for cyclists – de Maisonneuve is already jammed with all forms of traffic (car, bus, taxi, pedestrian and cyclist) and will only worsen with the major developments planned for that area, including the new MUHC, planned major development along the south side of de Maisonneuve and expected development along the north side of de Maisonneuve to service the medical complex, not to mention the additional traffic during the multi-year Turcot reconstruction.

To illustrate the hazards currently faced by residents choosing to commute by bike, I am enclosing three short videos (web link at bottom of email):

  • ·      The bike commute heading west.
  • ·      The bike commute heading east (more hazardous).
  • ·      An overview of developments which will increase all forms of traffic in this sector, thereby increasing the risk to cycling commuters.

When looking at these videos, please imagine you are a youth cycling to school or a mother towing two children in a bike trailer to daycare before cycling to work (mainstream cyclists).

We understand that consultants have examined the de Maisonneuve/Decarie intersection and recommended a simple 4-way re-design, however this will remain a challenge to commuting cyclists since it will mean stopping at a red light at the bottom of a hill then starting up with a hill to climb.  Once through that intersection, cyclists face the truly daunting challenge of riding through all the forms of traffic to reach the safety of the de Maisonneuve bike path on the west side of Claremont.

As you may know, de Maisonneuve is the key east-west commuting bike path across Montreal.  The Decarie-Claremont segment is by far the worst section of that whole path and possibly the worst bike path segment in all of Montreal.  It is the only section of the de Maisonneuve path which is not bi-directional and protected (by concrete curbs or bollards) and is the key barrier to growth in commuting by bike, as an alternative to driving, from NDG and communities to the west.  Since safe passage is the key essential requirement for most mainstream cyclists, if the Decarie-Claremont segment remains on de Maisonneuve in front of the Vendome Station, will remain the key obstacle to residents switching from cars to bikes and NDG will increasingly become an enclave with no safe exit or entrance for cyclists.  As you may know, cyclists now refer to Decarie as the ‘Valley of Death’ and the ride over to Claremont as ‘Running the gauntlet’.

As Westmount residents, we are concerned about expected increased car traffic to and from the MUHC and related developments, but we are also concerned about NDG residents driving through Westmount to get downtown, partially because NDG has not provided a safe cycling alternative.

Based on the planned development of this area and the resulting growth in pedestrian and bus/taxi traffic on top of already high levels, the only viable long-term solution we can imagine is to close de Maisonneuve between Decarie and Clarement to private cars and bikes, allowing only buses, taxis  and pedestrians (‘Place Vendome’?).  Access to parking under new buildings along de Maisonneuve could be designed directly off Claremont or Decarie.  The bike path would have to run beside the tracks behind the Vendome Station.  The new buildings planned on each side of Vendome could incorporate the bike path at their ground-floor level (air rights).  

We understand this issue is complex, but trying to fix the problem later will be even more difficult and costly.  If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to call. 

Respectfully,

Dan Lambert – President – Westmount Walking and Cycling Association

Video link:

https://picasaweb.google.com/dflambert/20120930100708?authkey=Gv1sRgCPaQ3dr-5-n5KA#

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