Montreal should act now to make intersections safer, cycling group says

Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante made the safety of cyclists and pedestrians a key pillar of her campaign, but a local group says the city should do more.

Mayor Valérie Plante made cyclist safety key pillar of her campaign, but group says city should do more

In last fall's election campaign, Mayor Valérie Plante's Projet Montréal promised to investigate the site of collisions where a pedestrian or cyclist has been injured or killed. (CBC)

A cyclists advocacy group says the City of Montreal should be taking more decisive action to make intersections safer, one month after a cyclist was hit following a collision with a truck in Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie.

During last fall's election campaign, Mayor Valérie Plante's Projet Montréal promised to investigate the site of collisions where pedestrians or cyclists have been killed or injured and to "secure the area as soon as possible."

However, the Montreal Bike Coalition said this week that too little has been done at the Rosemont intersection where Valérie Bertrand Desrochers died in June.

"Nothing appears to have changed since the fatal collision one month ago," said Dan Lambert, a spokesperson for the group.

Ghost bike erected at deadly corner

The 30-year-old cyclist was killed June 11 after colliding with a truck at the corner of St-Zotique Street and 19th Avenue.

The truck was to the left of her, and it turned right as she was crossing 19th Avenue.

Today, a ghost bike has been placed at the intersection — a bike painted white to indicate someone died there while cycling. Alongside it are flowers, stuffed animals, and a framed photo of Bertrand Desrochers.

Flowers, stuffed animals and a framed photo of Valérie Bertrand Desrochers have been placed at the intersection where she was killed after colliding with a truck last month. (CBC)

In an email to CBC News, the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie said it has made several changes over the last months and years to make the roads safer for all users.

"What's necessary now is to look at safe co-existence between heavy trucks and vulnerable [road] users in Montreal, and that's something our administration has started to think about," the borough said.

But according to Lambert, the city could already be taking small steps to make the area safer, such as installing posts to force trucks to make wider turns.

The coalition also recommends putting up a sign to indicate the presence of a bike lane at the intersection where last month's collision occurred.

The city could also move the stop line back for cars and paint the lines separating the bike lane from the road green, to make it clear to drivers that they should pay attention to cyclists, Lambert said.

The city needs to speed up its response, he said, although he added that he understands the Plante administration is new at city hall, and it has a lot on its plate.

"We're hopeful, but we really haven't seen much yet on the ground, [not] much concrete action that's going to make it safer for people to get around by bike, rather than driving or taking public transportation," he said.

Dan Lambert, a spokesperson for the Montreal Bike Coalition, says nothing appears to have changed at the intersection where Bertrand Desrochers was killed. (CBC)

Pedestrian, cyclist safety a key campaign promise

Plante made the safety of cyclists and pedestrians a key pillar of her mayoral campaign.

The mayor's plan involves looking at lowering speed limits on major roads and in residential neighbourhoods and putting in infrastructure that naturally forces cars to slow down, such as narrower roads and medians.

After 18-year-old Clément Ouimet died when he struck an SUV pulling a U-turn on Camilien-Houde Way on Mount Royal last October, the Plante administration also launched a pilot project that closes part of the road to most motorized vehicles.

A 550-metre stretch of the road which goes over the mountain is only open to cyclists and to city, school and tourist buses until the end of October.

Changes to Quebec's Highway Safety Code also came into effect in May, imposing heftier fines on cyclists and motorists who break the rules of the road across the province. 

Cyclists say everyone must be vigilant

Montreal cyclist Alain Gibson, who commutes to work by bike, said while he'd like to see more demarcated bike paths in the city, it's up to everyone using the roads to look out for each other.

That means cyclists need to stop at stop signs and red lights, and drivers need to look out for cyclists, especially when they cut through bike paths when making turns or passing other cars.

"It's for every individual … to really respect one another," Gibson told CBC News.

Montreal cyclist Alain Gibson says he'd like to see more demarcated bike paths in the city. (CBC)

Sarah Contrino, another cyclist, agreed.

She says she tries to use bike paths as often as possible, and she keeps an eye out for cars and other cyclists moving faster than she is.

"I think cars have to be more aware of it. Bikes have to be more careful," she said.

"Just be more careful, everyone."

With files from CBC's Arian Zarrinkoub

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