Montreal becoming more pedestrian friendly — one car-free zone at a time

The city now has some 50 streets with reduced or prohibited vehicular traffic, where people can stroll through gardens and past street art and splashes of colour. Four more are on the way, including a pedestrian zone along Jean-Brillant Street in Côte-des-Neiges.

CDN-NDG will get one of the city's newest pedestrian zones, as it looks to make Jean Brillant safer

Terrasses Roy, on Roy Street between De Bullion Street and Coloniale Avenue, features planters, a stage and plenty of seating. Montreal says 4,100 people visit it every day. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

The city now has some 50 streets free of vehicular traffic where people can stroll past gardens, outdoor urban furniture and splashes of colour. 

Fifteen so-called "pedestrian zones" have been recently added, in 10 different boroughs, and four more are on the way by 2020.
Among them is Jean-Brillant Street in Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, where a pilot project is slated to get underway this fall.

Some 15,000 people walk the street's narrow sidewalks daily, as it connects the Côte-des-Neiges Metro station to the Université de Montréal campus in a busy area packed with medical offices, commercial buildings and cultural destinations.

Those narrow sidewalks mean pedestrians are often forced off the curb and onto the roadway or the grass.

Unlike the design of most other pedestrian zones, there is no plan to ban vehicular traffic on Jean-Brillant.

Instead, the park between Gatineau and Decelles avenues will be extended by four metres, creating a wider walking area and reducing the roadway to a single, one-way lane for cars. The vehicular speed limit will be set at 20 km/h.

Jean-Brillant Street will become a more pedestrian-friendly strip between Gatineau and Decelles avenues, with a single, one-way lane for vehicular traffic. (Ville de Montréal/Hélène Simard/CBC)

"There's just so much foot traffic in that area that it was a no-brainer to make it safer and more pleasant to walk," said borough Mayor Sue Montgomery.

Some street parking will be eliminated, and plants and urban furniture will be added to make the space more inviting.

U de M seeks safer streets

With climate change in mind, it is time to rethink the cityscape, said Montgomery. She said the borough now widens sidewalks every time a street is refurbished.

"When these public spaces are created, it brings people together, especially when you add the urban furniture," she said. "It's important to bring people out of isolation, to meet their neighbours."

Montgomery said the university has been pressing the borough to act to make streets surrounding the campus safer, so the borough applied to the city, through a program aimed at creating pedestrian-friendly shared spaces. 

A pilot project is to get underway soon, and if it goes well, the pedestrian zone will become a permanent fixture.

Prince Arthur Street East took two years to renovate. Some business owners say they suffered during the renovations, but the city says now 10,000 people visit the street daily. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

3 more projects on the way

Other projects to be completed by 2020 include turning the old village of Sault-au-Récollet into a pedestrian-friendly heritage destination. A 425-metre stretch of Gouin Boulevard East in Ahuntsic-Cartierville will be renovated to promote healthy lifestyles, encourage cultural activities and increase residents' sense of security.

The Forêt urbaine on Victoria Street, between Sherbrooke Street West and President Kennedy Avenue, has a public piano, seating and lots of vibrant colours. (Isaac Olson/CBC)

A stretch of Bellerive Street, which runs along the St. Lawrence River in the city's east end, will soon have kiosks, benches and picnic tables installed.

Island Street in Pointe-Saint-Charles is also on Montreal's to-do list, in response to residents' request to reconfigure the space so it's better shared by all users. The Sud-Ouest borough is now in the consultation phase.

Streets, parks and paths 

There are eight kilometres of pedestrian zones in all in Montreal, with many incorporating public pianos, gardens, places to sit and family-friendly installations, such as sandboxes and play modules.

For the four projects slated for 2020, the city of Montreal's central budget is paying for 50 per cent of the project, up to $600,000 over four years.

St-Dominique Street was closed to vehicles in 2010 between St-Joseph Boulevard and Laurier Avenue, in front of Saint-Enfant-Jésus du Mile-End church and Lahaie Park. There are swinging chairs, a fountain, benches and flowers. (Isaac Olson/CBC)


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