Cyclists biking through public parks in Montreal could run the risk of big fines as police enforce a little known municipal law.
Cycling on park paths that aren’t designated for bikes is technically illegal, and carries a possible fine of between $100 and $300.
Montreal police cadets were out in Lafontaine Park Wednesday warning cyclists to dismount or face a possible fine of $148.
Those warnings followed on the heels of the City of Montreal erecting signs in Jeanne-Mance Park that ordered cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes.
Cyclists and cycling advocates responded to the signs with anger, and the city backed down and removed the signs.
But not everyone thinks the signs and fines are out of line.
Maria Duong told CBC News that cyclists in parks are a safety risk for pedestrians like her.
“I think it is dangerous because bicycles are not noisy like a car, we cannot hear them coming… and usually I don't think they really pay attention to the people walking,” she said.
Cyclist Marie-Luc Arpin told CBC News that there are other ways to enforce the rules for bikes than police issuing expensive fines.
“Policemen aren't the right people to do the job that needs to be done right now, tickets aren't the right way - it just aggravates the anger inside everyone, and I don't find it very smart,” she said.
The Plateau–Mont-Royal borough council recently proposed a compromise solution that would see the city build bike paths around the borough’s large parks.
However, a spokesman for Quebec’s main cycling advocacy organization, Vélo Québec, says excluding cyclists from parks is unfair and not the way to go.
“We think that a mutual share of the space is possible in parks,” said Jean-François Pronovost. “Of course we are not agreed with high-speed bicycling in parks, but I mean someone taking his lunch here in Lafontaine park and going slowly could have the right to do that,” he said.
The City of Montreal is meeting with both Vélo Québec and the Plateau–Mont-Royal borough next month to look at the existing rules again.