Cyclists take to social media to call out vehicles that block bike lanes
Group’s co-founder says more enforcement and infrastructure is needed
A group of Montreal cyclistsn is hoping a popular new Facebook group called #dansmapiste propels local politicians and police to crack down on when a car or truck blocks a bike path.
It's only one week old and already nearly 700 members strong.
"Basically every day I see something on my way to work or on my way to home," Mathieu Seguin, one of the group's founders, told CBC Montreal's Daybreak.
"With the group we see that I'm not the only one."
Members of #dansmapiste post photos of different vehicles — cars, trucks, even steam rollers — blocking bike paths.
"We try to call out the companies when it's a UPS truck, for example," said Seguin. "We try to tell the borough there is a problem. We tag them too."
But photos and tags are not enough. Members are encouraged to call the police or 311.
"When people are getting on bikes you expect a straight line, then you suddenly have to swerve around something to get into traffic," Seguin said.
"It causes a situation that is quite dangerous and the risk of collision is a lot higher."
He's had mixed reactions.
"Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't," he said. "Then, well, you have to call the police and they usually come within five to 10 minutes and make them move."
Protected bike paths and dedicated bike path parking agents, like exists in Toronto, are other solutions that Seguin would like to see.
Police handing out more tickets
The City of Montreal is aware of the problem and police hand out tickets when vehicles block bike paths, Marc-André Gadoury, the city councillor responsible for bike safety, told Daybreak.
Blocked bike paths are an issue in most major cities with a large cycling network, he added.
"It's good that we talk about the problems, then people know how much they're fined if they do park in a bike path," he said.
The fine for blocking a bike path is $169.
"There's no concern for safety," he said.
The number of tickets for blocking bike paths has almost doubled since last year— with 914 tickets handed out so far in 2017 by the SPVM, compared to 476 in 2016.
Montreal police said that, as with all infractions, the more people are flagging them, the bigger the chance that there will be an impact on the numbers.
Last week the city announced a 150-million dollar cycling master plan, that includes more protected bike paths, the day after a fatal collision between a cyclist and a school bus.