Verdun cutting parking spots on major street in favour of bike path

The project on Verdun Street will be in effect from May to October this year and next, and while cyclists welcome the change, some residents aren't happy about it.

About 275 parking spaces on Verdun St. will be cut as part of a two-year pilot project

Verdun Coun. Marie-Andrée Mauger is heading up a project that will last two years, cutting parking on Verdun Street to make way for a bike path. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

A young Montreal family moved to the borough of Verdun because they appreciated the area's family friendly atmosphere.

But as borough officials plan to strip Verdun Street of half its parking — 275 spots along its entire three kilometres — to make way for a bike path on either side of the street, that young family is having second thoughts.

Hannah Aubut relies on public transit to get around, but her husband has a vehicle for work. Not being able to park it, she said, could push her family out of the city.

"If I have to move off island because parking becomes a nightmare like it is on the Plateau, we will have to get two cars," she said. "Then what does that say for the environment?"

And she's not alone.

Some residents have taken to a local Facebook group to lament a plan that will last from May to October, this year and next, on a street lined with dense, brick-faced apartments and a range of businesses.

Coun. Marie-Andrée Mauger said in some sections of the street, the loss of parking will have a stronger impact, but the occupancy rate of parking spots still doesn't top 80 per cent most days. That rate drops to 30 per cent in commercial zones where there are pay spots.

Borough working to reduce impact of project

Mauger, who is heading the project, is working with residents and business owners alike to limit the project's impact on the community.

For residents in the area, the process for applying for residential parking permits has been simplified, the councillor said.

Small residential parking zones will be implemented as people request them, but the aim now is to install the bike paths, review the collected data and host a public information session at the end of the season so the borough can make adjustments for next year, Mauger said.

Short-term, free parking will be set up on side streets, as some of the businesses along Verdun Street attract customers who come largely by car, she said.
With hundreds of available spots, parking on Verdun Street is never full, the borough says. (Kate McKenna/CBC)

Many residents have parking spots on their property, accessible via back-alley lanes, but they still park in the street because it is easier.

The hope, she added, is that those people will move their cars to their driveways to free up curb space.

Verdun Street is dangerous for cyclists as there are some 8,000 vehicles on it every day, she said, and that's why separate cyclist infrastructure is needed.

Time for change, advocates say

Dan Lambert, a spokesperson for the Montreal Bike Coalition, admits that reduction in parking is tough for residents to adjust to in cases like this.

But he also said it's a necessary evil considering the impact cars have on the environment. The world is facing a climate change crisis, he said, and it's time for solutions.

Dan Lambert, a spokesperson for the Montreal Bike Coalition, says cycling is a way to combat greenhouse gas emissions, but the city needs to provide the infrastructure. (CBC)

There are plenty of residents interested in riding their bikes instead of driving, he said, but "the city has to provide infrastructure for residents who want to cycle."

Owen Waygood, a professor of transport at Polytechnique Montréal, said only people with cars benefit from parking spaces.

"Vehicle traffic is what restrains people using all other modes," he said. "Putting in infrastructure that helps more of the population have greater accessibility is a gain for Verdun."

With files from CBC Montreal's Daybreak and Kate McKenna


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