Montreal spending $15M on new, existing bike paths

Montreal will spend $15 million this year to add 57 kilometres of additional bike lanes to its network, as well as do upkeep on the 733 kilometres that already exist.

City to add 57 kilometres of bike lanes to the network

Montreal is spending $15 million on new bike paths as well as upkeep on its existing network. (Lauren Mccallum/CBC)

Montreal will spend $15 million in this year to add 57 kilometres of additional bike lanes to its 733-kilometre-long network and maintain what already exists.

The additions will cover 13 boroughs and four cities on the island.

Among the projects:

  • Prolonging the bike path on de Maisonneuve Boulevard between Berri and Alexandre de Sève streets and connect the Jacques Cartier Bridge to downtown.
  • Creation of a bike path on Lapierre Street in LaSalle and the construction of a bridge that will link the Lachine Canal bike path to the bike path along the Verdun aqueduct.
  • Upgrading the Clark Street bike path between Arcade Street and Laurier Avenue, which includes making it accessible year round.
  • Adding a dual direction bike path on Elm Boulevard in Beaconsfield between Montrose Drive and Brown Owl Lane.

'Vélorues' pilot project

The city has also started a pilot project it's calling "vélorues," or streets dedicated first and foremost to cyclists.

"Once you have lots of cyclists on it, cars do not overtake, they'll go the speed of the bikes," said Marc-André Gadoury, who is responsible for bike safety for the City of Montreal.

It's still a bit of patchwork, but they are getting there.- Vélo Quebec's Marc Jolicoeur

Motorists who drive on St-André and Mentana streets between Laurier Avenue and Cherrier Street will have to reduce their speed to a suggested 20 km/h.

"Allowing cyclists to go all the way north-south on that access while drivers will have to turn to other streets will make for a very quiet street," said Marc Jolicoeur, spokesman for Vélo Québec. "It will be a nice addition."

The project is also an attempt to address the lack of north-south options designated for cyclists in the city.

"It's still a bit of patchwork, but they are getting there," Jolicoeur said.

The next phase of a pilot project that created a counterflow bike lane on Esplanade Avenue will also begin this year. The change affects Esplanade between Rachel Street and Duluth Avenue.

Bike boxes

Bike boxes are designed to ensure motorists see cyclists at intersections and avoid collisions.

The city will create four new bike boxes, painted in green at intersections to designate a space for cyclists to await ahead of motorized vehicles at a red light. 

There will be two such boxes at Berri Street and de Maisonneuve Boulevard, one on Laurier Avenue at St-Denis Street and a fourth at the intersection of St-Urbain and Viger streets.

Falling short

Despite the additions to the network, the city is still 547 kilometres short of its goal to have a network of 1,280 kilometres of bike paths on the island.

"We've given ourselves 12 years to put that plan into place. We are at more than 50 kilometres a year now, 57 this year, so if we keep the pace we might even [reach the goal] a year or two in advance," said Gadoury.

Projet Montréal suggests much of the existing network needs improvement: It says too many kilometres of bike paths are simply painted lines on a road and not specifically designated for cyclists.