Who owns the roads? Cycling advocates in Montreal raise safety concerns
Written by Benjamin Shingler
Published on August 12, 2013 | Canadian Press
"A high-profile ticketing blitz, a string of deadly accidents, and a dispute over the rules of the road this summer suggests Montreal cycling is experiencing some growing pains. Montreal's 600 kilometres of bike paths and the arrival of the Bixi rent-a-bike system have made the city among the top cycling destinations in North America, according to several rankings. In recent months, though, biking has been the subject of controversy.
[...] About 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year, most often at an intersection, according to the CAA. Ahmed El-Geneidy, an urban planning professor at McGill University, said cyclists will likely continue to break the rules until two things happen: cyclists and drivers are better educated to deal with one another, and a more cohesive network of bike paths is in place. El-Geneidy, who has researched the motives of cyclists, said many prioritize efficiency on their daily rides -- even if it means putting themselves on busier streets. "Many of these cyclists aren't adhering to the rules because they rules are built for cars," said El-Geneidy, who suggested introducing measures that put bikes ahead of cyclists, such as introducing a bike-first light at some intersections.
"We are a car dependent society, and we won't be reaching lower levels of reducing car usage unless we do things that make it harder for the cars." One clear way to increase cycling rates is more bike paths. A McGill University study published earlier this year found that intersections in Montreal with protected bike lanes see 61 per cent more bike traffic than those without. Meanwhile, intersections with painted bike lanes see 36 per cent more cyclists."