Motorists will no longer be able to cross Mount Royal starting in spring, city says

Coming from the east, visitors to Mount Royal can park at the historic Maison Smith, and from the west, at the parking lot near Beaver Lake. But the 800 metres between the two spots will be off-limits to all, except for buses, bicycles and pedestrians.

From the east, vehicle access to end at Maison Smith, from the west, at Beaver Lake

The October death of 18-year-old Clément Ouimet, who was cycling down Camillien-Houde Way headed toward Côte-Ste-Catherine Road, spurred the city's administration to brainstorm ways to avoid similar tragedies. (Sara King-Abadi/CBC)

Motorists who have made a habit of driving over Mount Royal via Camillien-Houde Way will no longer be able to cut across the mountain under a pilot project to be launched this spring, the City of Montreal announced Tuesday. 

Coming from the east, visitors to Mount Royal will be able to park at the historic Maison Smith, and from the west, at the parking lot near Beaver Lake.

"Between both, there will be no possible circulation," Luc Ferrandez, mayor of the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough and executive committee member in charge of parks, announced Tuesday at Montreal City Hall.

The stretch of road that will be off-limits is about 800 metres long.

According to the Société de Transport de Montréal (STM), buses that now run on Camillien Houde Way — the 11 and 711 — will not be affected by the initiative.

"We anticipate that the pilot project will actually improve bus circulation," said STM spokesperson Philippe Déry. 

Executive committee member in charge of large parks, Luc Ferrandez, announced Tuesday that traffic over Mount Royal will no longer be an option for Montreal motorists. (Radio-Canada)

Last October's death of 18-year-old Clément Ouimet spurred the city's administration to brainstorm for ways to avoid similar tragedies.

Ouimet was an experienced road cyclist who struck a vehicle that unexpectedly pulled a U-turn right in front of him as he was biking down Camillien-Houde Way toward Côte-Ste-Catherine Road.

Ferrandez said at the time that more than 80 per cent of drivers who use the road aren't going to the park. During peak hours, almost all drivers are just passing through.

"They're simply looking for a shortcut."

Valérie Plante, then leader of the official opposition, proposed lowering the speed limit and separating the cyclist path from the vehicle lanes.

Illegal U-turn still possible, says cycling advocate

The pilot project has received a mixed reaction from Montrealers.

Jose Azana, a father who commutes twice a day from the Plateau-Mont-Royal to Westmount via the Mount Royal road, thinks cutting it off to cars is an extreme measure.

Jose Azana, a father who commutes twice a day from the Plateau-Mont-Royal to Westmount via Camillien-Houde Way thinks cutting it off to cars entirely is an extreme measure.

"I'm taking this road because the other options I have are completely full of cars," Azana said, mentioning des Pins Avenue at rush hour. 

"I think we can find ways to be safer, but you don't need to completely close it down."

However, Gabrielle Anctil, spokesperson for Ghostbikes Montreal, an organization that sets up memorials for people who were killed while cycling in the city, says the Montreal administration could do even more.

The SUV that Ouimet collided with pulled a U-turn near the Belvedere that looks out over Montreal's Plateau, and Anctil points out it would still be possible for a vehicle to make that maneuvre once the pilot project is launched.

Gabrielle Anctil, spokesperson for Ghostbikes Montreal, an organization that sets up memorials for people who were killed while cycling in the city, says the Montreal administration could do even more. (CBC)

"The same situation that happened for Clément could happen again," Anctil said, adding that she'd like to see concrete barriers put up along the entire median to prevent this.

Anctil said the group is happy that buses will still run over the mountain, keeping Mount Royal Park accessible to the public.

"Transit traffic is really a problem on the mountain, we're very, very happy that the administration is going to act upon it quickly."

With files from Radio-Canada