Montreal boroughs to narrow streets to make them safer for cyclists

Following a string of high-profile bicycle collisions this summer, the mayors of Plateau-Mont-Royal and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie announced a series of measures Tuesday to make their roads safer.

Reduce lane width, lower speed limit on arteries among proposed measures

The mayors of the Plateau-Mont-Royal and Rosemont-La Petite-Patrie boroughs want Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre to follow through on promises to increase road safety. (Radio-Canada)

In an effort to increase the safety of cycling, the mayors of Plateau-Mont-Royal and Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie plan to narrow streets and reduce speed limits in their boroughs.  

The move comes following a string of bicycle accidents this summer. Plateau-Mont-Royal Mayor Luc Ferrandez, who is also interim leader of the opposition Projet Montréal, said Tuesday "it's high time to act" on road safety. 

Ferrandez said he hoped Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre would join the borough's efforts and expand the safety measures available to cyclists.  

But Coderre, for his part, accused the opposition of "playing politics," saying the city was already putting together a coherent plan that would make the roads safer for all users.  

"It's important not to just look at cyclists and pedestrians. We need to discuss with the trucking industry as well," Coderre said.

Coderre promised he would introduce city-wide measures for bike safety in the coming weeks. (CBC)

Marc Cadieux, president of the Quebec Trucking Association, didn't approve of today's announcement.

"[Ferrandez] approaches things like a dictator rather than collaboratively," Cadieux told CBC News.

He said that narrower lanes would make deliveries more challenging for trucks and that would drive up the cost of goods.

Cadieux said cities with strong cycling communities have highly disciplined users, unlike what's seen in Montreal.

"Here we have a tendency to be aggressive rather than sharing streets," Cadieux said.

The measures expected to put in place by spring are:

  • Reducing the width of lanes on arteries from 3.5 metres to 3.2 metres. Right now some are as wide as 3.9 metres.
  • Reducing the speed limit on arteries to 40 km/h except in school zones where they are to remain 30 km/h.
  • Moving the stop line 3.5 metres back from stop lights on arteries so bikes will have a safe, visible space in front of cars.
  • Take necessary measures to secure garage and alleyway entrances.

Marie-Eve Gagnon, a spokesperson for Projet Montréal, said the boroughs are able to make these changes because things like repainting the lanes on their streets are considered signage changes, which are under the boroughs' control. 

Boroughs, however, aren't able to make structural changes — like adding bike paths to arteries. 

"We were hoping the city would jump in with us," Gagnon said. "Our message today was let's collaborate on road safety." 

with files from Simon Nakonechny