Bike lanes may be little more than narrow strips of asphalt, but on rue Saint-Denis, they have become fodder for a tense debate over the future of the neighbourhood. \nAfter a group of shop-owners threatened to sue the city to remove a controversial bike lane through the Plateau over fears that it could hurt business, the borough’s mayor, Luc Rabouin, and a local entrepreneur are saying their fears are misguided.\nThe cycling lanes on St-Denis are part of the Réseau express vélo (REV) project, which will see the integration of 184 kilometres of bike paths across Montreal, including 17 paths that will be accessible year-round. \nSupporters say the lanes are a good thing that will revitalize the street, keep people safe, and help beleaguered merchants. \nHere are their arguments.\nEditor's Choice: 9 Of The Wildest Mega Items You Can Actually Get At The Special New Costco Near Montreal\n\nBike lanes will beautify the street and improve business\n View this post on Instagram un bon latte pour ensoleiller votre journée ✨🌞☕️ #codeetcafé #kikicode A post shared by Code & Café (@codecafe4304) on Aug 10, 2019 at 1:17pm PDT\n\nBefore the bike lanes, Saint-Denis was essentially a highway with four lanes of traffic and was not a friendly place to shop, said Jacques Nacouzi, the owner of Code & Café.\n“It was noisy, polluted, and even visually speaking, four lanes, it was not fun to be sitting out on the terraces,” he said. \nNacouzi said the REV is going to breathe new economic life into the neighbourhood and transform Saint-Denis into one of the most accessible commercial streets in the city.\nHis beliefs are backed up by a number of studies that show bike lanes increase sales for retailers. \n\nNot a lot of parking will be lost\n View this post on Instagram Shopping de soirée sur la rue Saint-Denis en levant les yeux pour admirer les beaux bâtiments . . . @laruesaintdenis #ruesaintdenis #ruesaintdenismtl #mtlmoments #mtlarchitecture #mtllifestyle #mtlstreet A post shared by notremontrealite (@notremontrealite) on Sep 3, 2020 at 3:25pm PDT\n\nYou’ll still be able to park on both sides of Saint-Denis when the REV is complete. The only things being removed are two lanes of traffic.\nAccording to Nacouzi, of over 300 parking spots on Saint-Denis, only 26 were sacrificed to make way for pedestrian crossings.\n“In a single parking spot for a car you can put about ten bikes, so this is ten customers instead of one,” he said. \nSome merchants have argued that, unlike cafés or small shops, their businesses need street parking to survive, but Nacouzi said his business also relies on vehicular traffic, especially for the robotics day camp for kids he operates called Les Ateliers Kikicode.\n“People tell me ‘you have a café, you’re not a destination shop, but yes I’m a destination shop,” he said. “For the coding, people come from Gatineau, even this weekend I had people coming in from Granby.” \n\n \nMost merchants support the project\n View this post on Instagram A post shared by Luc Rabouin (@lrabouin) on Apr 9, 2020 at 2:25pm PDT\n\nPlateau–Mont-Royal borough mayor Luc Rabouin said the city did extensive consultations with Saint-Denis merchants about the REV about a year and a half ago.\n“We went door to door,” he said. “Every merchant was consulted about what had to be done to improve the vitality of the street [...] Not all the merchants were in favour, but the majority of them were in favour.”\nThe REV was developed as part of an action plan to revitalize the street, which had already been facing economic decline for a number of years, he said.\nThe city has promised an additional $1.2 million in economic aid to help the merchants on Saint-Denis through this difficult time.\n“We are now working to find a way to give them a coup de pouce during this tough period for them," said Rabouin. "We are working to reduce the impacts and support our merchants because we know that we need them.”\nRabouin didn't comment on the group of rue Saint-Denis businesses threatening to sue the city.\nThe REV will be complete by the end of October.