Montreal proposes changes to improve bike safety
City pitches 20 improvements to Quebec Highway Safety Code
The City of Montreal released 20 recommendations for improvements to Quebec's Highway Safety Code today, including allowing cyclists to ride on sidewalks in some circumstances.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said it's time to bring the laws in line with people's behaviour and the growing city.
"Clearly if you look at what happened in the [last] five years… the city itself totally changed," he said at a news conference at Montreal City Hall this morning.
"You're not just using your bike for leisure. You're using it for utility...That's why we believe it was just to recognize a situation that already exists."
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The city wants to crack down on "impaired cycling" and increase fines for any cyclist who breaks the law.
Right now, the law against impaired driving falls under the federal criminal code, but specifies you must be operating a motorized vehicle.
The city's recommendations state that any provincial penalties for drunk cycling would need to be in line with the criminal legislation.
The recommendations say that cyclists should be allowed to use sidewalks where signage exists permitting it. If no signs are posted, only children should be allowed to ride on walkways.
However, it says that under certain conditions, including where it is clearly dangerous for cyclists to ride on the shoulder of the road, cyclists should be allowed to ride on sidewalks.
It also recommends speed limits for cyclists on sidewalks.
Other recommendations include allowing cyclists in some reserved bus lanes and mandating safety equipment on trucks that prevent cyclists from rolling underneath and getting caught up in wheels.
'A network of safe protected paths'
At least one cyclist advocacy group praised the recommendations.
Daniel Lambert, spokesperson for the Montreal Bike Coalition, said he was pleased with the mayor's announcement, but the network for cyclists still needs to be improved.
Lambert said having cyclists share sidewalks is a "band-aid solution."
"It's a band-aid solution," says Lambert of cyclists sharing sidewalks with pedestrians. "It's not ideal."—@cbcHomerun
"We have to keep hammering away at that point, that if you want cyclists to be safe, you have to provide a network of safe protected paths," Lambert told CBC's Homerun.
He also said forcing cyclists to keep to the extreme right can pose serious safety concerns.
The provincial government is looking at ways to improve the highway code.
Quebec Transport Minister Robert Poëti is expected to table proposed changes before the end of the year.