A citywide effort is underway to make Montreal more accessible to pedestrians and bicyclists. But while such a plan is long overdue, commuters have bemoaned what seems like attempts to restrict car travel.
City officials' eagerness to serve cyclists and pedestrians has sometimes disadvantaged motorists. A too-wide bike lane on Clark and plans to eliminate two lanes of car travel during rush hours on Sherbrooke were met with both eyerolls and dismay from Montreal residents.
But the plan to partially eliminate cars from Mount Royal has been the most controversial move to date. The pilot project that has banned on cars on Camillien-Houde Way for the whole summer and part of the autumn provoked both widespread criticism and praise.
Commuters were enraged that not only had a main thoroughfare disappeared, but also one of the most scenic drives in Montreal.
Pedestrians and park visitors rejoiced at what appeared to be a major step toward improving safety in the Parc Mont-Royal.
Unfortunately, it now seems those hopes were unfounded.
According to Les amis de la montagne, the non-profit custodian of the mountain park, and the Montreal Gazette, the simple elimination of cars has actually made the road less safe for pedestrians and bikes.
Without accompanying infrastructure and signage to signal the road closure, cars have been known to bypass the notice at the beginning of the throughway. That makes unsuspecting pedestrians vulnerable to rule-breaking cars.
An increase in the number of bikes since the car ban has also made the road perlious for walkers. Cyclists are even less likely to obey signs.
Officials are going to review the pilot project this November. There's no telling whether the car ban will become a permanent feature on the mountain.