Montreal

City of Montreal unveils bike safety plan for 57 underpasses

Two years after Mathilde Blais died while cycling through the St-Denis Street underpass, the City of Montreal has identified 57 dangerous underpasses and outlining measures to make them safer.

New safety measures come 2 years after death of Mathilde Blais in St-Denis Street underpass

The City of Montreal's plan to make underpasses safer for cyclists comes two years after Mathilde Blais was killed while biking through the St-Denis Street underpass. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

The City of Montreal has unveiled its new plan to make cycling on city streets safer by 2017.

It's identified 57 dangerous underpasses and outlined measures to make them more secure.

The plan comes two years after Mathilde Blais was killed while biking through the underpass on St-Denis Street.

Aref Salem, the city's executive committee member responsible for transportation, said the measures would include taking out a motorized-traffic lane and replacing it with a bike lane where possible.

Salem added that the city's cycling committee, including representatives from Vélo Québec,  agreed with the new measures.

The measures will also include:

  • Making both traffic lanes narrower to add a bike path, where possible.
  • Allowing cyclists to continue to use sidewalks in underpasses.
  • Moving manholes from the right side to the left side of the street, so cyclists don't have to swerve to avoid them.
  • Adding lights in underpasses.
  • Prohibiting bike access in the St-Remi Street and Atwater Avenue tunnels.

'Wish it was good news' 

Projet Montréal expressed disappointment over the plan.

"We feel that they're just trying to patch things here and there," said the opposition party's cycling critic, Councillor Marianne Giguère.

Although it was the opposition's idea to allow cyclists to bike on sidewalks through underpasses in the wake of Blais's death, Giguère said it was an emergency measure, meant to be temporary.

"It still puts users of active transport on the side, sending the message that we will not remove any road capacity to make their way safer and more comfortable," Giguère said.

She said only two of the identified underpasses would be rebuilt to replace a motorized-traffic lane with a bike lane — "a very, very small number."

But Salem refuted Giguère's statement, saying two underpasses have already been rebuilt and more are on the way.

With files from CBC Daybreak

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