Montreal

Montreal mayors say right turns on red lights could improve traffic flow

A group of mayors from demerged municipalities in Montreal want right turns on red lights to be permitted on the island, a move they say may speed up traffic.

Montreal drivers doubt the idea will improve traffic flow or safety

Making right turns on red lights has been permitted in many places in Quebec since 2003, but it's still not allowed on the island of Montreal. (Charles Contant/CBC)

A group of mayors from demerged municipalities in Montreal wants right turns on red lights to be permitted on the island, a move they say may speed up traffic.

Montreal East Mayor Robert Coutu is one of the 15 mayors in favour of the idea.

"It's a matter of time and money, because every time we stop it takes 15 seconds," Coutu told CBC.

The manoeuvre has been permitted in many places in Quebec since 2003, but is still not allowed in Montreal.

Traditionally, it's been opposed by road safety advocates and groups representing the visually impaired and seniors.

During the last election campaign, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said he supported making right turns on red lights legal on the island.

But on Tuesday, the mayor's office released a statement saying said the city's administration is not in favour of the measure, citing the need to protect the growing number of cyclists.

Arguments in favour

The mayors believe 1,550 of 2,587 intersections on the island would be suitable for right on red.

They had polling company CROP conduct an online survey of 1,000 Montrealers in November about their thoughts on the proposal, and 73 per cent of respondents were in favour.

Coutu said statistics show right on red is not the danger it was once thought to be.

He said allowing the manoeuvre with some restrictions, such as not allowing the turn at busy downtown intersections, would be a safe way to improve traffic flow in Montreal.

Not a great idea

But while some people are in favour of the idea, others including Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre aren't so sure Montrealers are ready for the change.

"I don't think it's [right] to do it now. We have to protect the pedestrians, we have to protect the cyclists because this is one of the biggest capitals for cycling. It's not only for leisure but also for transportation. It's part of our cocktail of active transport," Coderre said.

"We can look to see if the facts have changed, but the last study was pretty clear that it was not [right] to do it."

Groups representing cyclists and pedestrians also panned the idea, saying it's not safe.

Vélo Québec called it an idea from a different era that would only save a few seconds, while Piétons Québec called the proposal "irresponsible."

A number of people voiced similar concerns on Facebook.

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The provincial transport ministry said it received the request from the mayors today.

A spokesperson said that anyone with ideas around improving road safety is encouraged to take part in the ongoing public consultations which will stop in Montreal at the end of February.

with files from Steve Rukavina

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