Montreal's first bike-centric 'velorue' coming to St-André

The Plateau-Mont-Royal borough finally moving forward with long-planned transformation of a portion of St-André Street to create the city's first cyclist-focused street.

Project will undo Drapeau-era, car-centric streetscape, borough says

New bike-friendly adaptations to St-André Street are aimed at easing congestion on other north-south bike paths. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

The Plateau-Mont-Royal borough finally moving forward with long-planned transformation of a portion of St-André Street to create a bike-prioritized "velorue."

It would essentially allow cyclists to ride in the middle of the street rather than clinging to the curb and encourages bike through-traffic while directing cars onto a different route.

The new bike-friendly street will occupy St-André between Cherrier Street and Laurier Avenue.

The concept will a first in Montreal, but it has been implemented in Europe.

The borough has been talking about changing a stretch of the street into a bike-priority road for years to ease the strain on existing north-south bike paths.

With major infrastructure work planned for the street, the borough is using the opportunity to update the road.

No change to parking

"It's not that cars won't have access, cars can pass through," said Plateau-Mont-Royal Mayor Luc Ferrandez.

"However, it ensures there aren't a large number of cars and it ensures that bikes can pass in the middle of the road and not just on the edges."

The official plan will be announced in May, he said.

Borough Mayor Luc Ferrandez says adding north-south bike paths is difficult in Montreal and the velorue will help ease some of the congestion on existing paths. (CBC)

Residents will still be able to park on the street.

Many have been waiting years for these improvements, which were initially promised under former mayor Gerald Tremblay's administration, city councillor Alex Norris, who represents the Jeanne-Mance district of the borough, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

He said the plans were halted under Denis Coderre's administration because the bids on the contract came back too high.

Now with repairs to the water works going ahead, it's the right time to make the changes and enhance the streetscape, which was stripped down to accommodate cars decades ago during the Drapeau-era.

"We systematically narrowed sidewalks, cut down trees and made streets wider," he said. "This project will allow us to repair that historic error and re-widen the sidewalks and replant trees ... it will really improve the quality of life for residents of this street."

The city is also launching a pilot project on the mountain aimed at protecting cyclists and reducing through traffic.

The controversial closure of a stretch of Camillien-Houde Way near the summit of Mount Royal to vehicle traffic is slated to start June 1. 

With files from Radio-Canada's Gravel le matin and CBC Montreal's Daybreak