After death of young cyclist, safety solutions proposed for Mount Royal

The death of 18-year-old Clément Ouimet on Camillien-Houde Way Wednesday has drivers, cyclists and politicians offering different solutions for safer cycling on Mount Royal.

Putting up barriers, slowing speed limit among recommendations for Camillien-Houde Way

Philippe Tremblay stops at a makeshift memorial set up at the foot of Camillien-Houde Way for Clément Ouimet, the 18-year-old cyclist who died Wednesday when he struck an SUV that unexpectedly pulled a U-turn in front of him. (Loreen Pindera/CBC)

The death of an 18-year-old cyclist has drivers, politicians and other bikers offering different solutions for safer cycling on Mount Royal.

On Wednesday, Clément Ouimet was coming down Camillien-Houde Way, headed towards Côte-Ste-Catherine Road. Just after Ouimet cycled past the belvedere lookout, an SUV driver made an illegal U-turn in front of him and, unable to avoid it, Ouimet struck the vehicle.

The cyclist was later pronounced dead in hospital, while the SUV driver was unhurt.

Camillien-Houde Way is a popular training route for serious cyclists.

Policymakers are now looking at different proposals for increasing safety for cyclists on Camillien-Houde — among them, cutting off access to the shortcut over the mountain to most vehicular traffic.

Destination road or a transit road?

Incumbent Mayor Denis Coderre, who is campaigning for re-election, said he's putting together a working group to analyze the road's use and see if anything can be done to make Camillien-Houde safer.

The working group is looking at whether it should be a destination road or a transit road. 

Turning it into a destination road would mean allowing only vehicles headed to the belvedere lookout or to other places in Mount Royal Park, while leaving it as a transit road would allow everyone to continue to use Camillien-Houde as a throughway.

"It could be just letting buses through," Coderre said. "There are options."

Montrealers have left mementos and messages for Clément Ouimet, 18, who died in hospital late Wednesday night. (Loreen Pindera/CBC)

Projet Montréal mayoral candidate Valérie Plante rebuffed her opponent's comments Friday, saying the city should be past the point of assembling working groups, since it already has a report on the issue.

"I think we need a committee for how to implement things now," said Plante. "Proposals, recommendations: they've already been made. Now we have to listen to them."

Plante said a low speed limit and separating the cyclist path from the vehicle lanes are some of the ideas for how to make Camillien-Houde safer.

'Used as a highway'

For the past 40 years Westmount resident Bruce Case has driven on Camillien-Houde Way and said its current design "is not working."

He said that with roadwork around Montreal, drivers are increasingly using the passage over the mountain to cross the city.

"It's being used as a highway," he told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.

"Yesterday, as I was going up, two people in front of me pulled a left turn, which is completely illegal, out of the belvedere, to go back up to Côte-des-Neiges," Case added.

"The design, the paint, is not working."

One of the founders of the cycling advocacy group #dansmapiste, Maxime Denoncourt, said that even before major changes are planned for Camillien-Houde Way, a physical barrier should be put up to block U-turns.

"Unless people are physically blocked from doing it, they will keep doing it," Denoncourt said.

A memorial bike ride for Ouimet was held Friday on Camillien-Houde Way.

With files from Elias Abboud, Arian Zarrinkoub and CBC Montreal's Daybreak


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