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Cyclists demonstrate for a safe crossing
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 1er décembre 2011

Photo: Ingrid Wissink

Cycling activists demonstrate for a bicycle crossing over the CP train bridge in order to bypass Decarie Boulevard.

Local cyclists and activists chanting “Bridge the gap” and waving signs demonstrated at the corner of Decarie and de Maisonneuve boulevards on November 24 to raise awareness about cyclist safety at the five-pronged intersection.

The NDG Cycling and Pedestrian Association organized the event to promote the construction of a bicycle bridge on the Canadian Pacific overpass, allowing cyclists to bypass the infamous intersection. Some passing drivers honked in support of the group.

“There’s no better time than now, since they’re already redoing the bridge,” says James McLean, one of the founders of the association. “During major infrastructure changes like these, we can make sustainable choices or just ignore the question completely.”

The association also proposes a rearrangement of the de Maisonneuve West bike path that would continue behind the Vendôme metro before reconnecting with de Maisonneuve.

Supported by NDG councillor Peter McQueen and members of local bike collectives including Le Petit Vélo Rouge and Concordia University’s Right To Move, McLean says cyclists heading east have been frustrated by the sudden disappearance of the bike path just before Decarie, leaving them confused as to how to cross and where to reconnect with the path.

A 2011 study by the Centre d’Écologie Urbaine de Montreal showed that many cyclists take Sherbrooke St. instead of using the dedicated path along the boulevard, despite the large number of cycling accidents on Sherbrooke.

McLean thinks that the city’s decision on the bike path will come soon, worrying it will amount to yet another “fresh coat of paint.”

“We want to be absolutely sure that we have a secure and viable scenario,” said borough manager Stéphane Plante who was reached by phone. The Côte-des-Neiges–NDG mayor prefers to wait for the recommendations following studies by the city’s central departments.

Michael Applebaum has said the city is committed to improving the situation, however he does not expect to be able to implement new safety measures before 2014, as the railway bridge reconstruction will likely not see completion before the end of 2013.

With traffic increasing in the area around the McGill University Health Centre construction site, as well as the detour caused by the Turcot interchange work, the Sustainable Concordia transportation group fears that students heading to Loyola campus will simply not choose cycling as a method of transport, as they are “scared” of crossing Decarie.

“The train tracks look like a straightforward solution though. If this goes through, it’ll be a keystone project,” hopes Allégo Concordia Coordinator Graham Bradley.

[ Ingrid Wissink ]

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