April 09 2012

Bike Path Network Development in Urban and Suburban Areas of Montreal, Canada: North America’s Best City for Biking

bike lane on Montreal streetMontreal has long been a bike-friendly city, with well over 500 kilometres (or 310 miles) of bike paths on Montreal Island to date.  An interactive map of bike paths in the metropolitan area shows these paths.  In fact, in 2011, Montreal was ranked the best city in North America for bicycling (and eighth worldwide).

In the past several years, more and more bike infrastructure has been installed in Montreal, especially in the city’s core. This is thanks partly to an expansion in the number of bike lanes on streets and of dedicated bike paths.  Montreal’s 2008 Transportation Plan proposes to increase Montreal Island’s bike network to 800 kilometres (or 500 miles).  As an example of road engineering favourable to cycling, sharrows (or shared lane markings with two chevrons and a bike symbol) have been installed in Montreal, as in many other cities.  Goals of increased bike infrastructure include:

●       More bike usage;

●       More transportation sustainability;

●       Less car use and traffic congestion;

●       Promotion of active living.

There is a local precedent for the development of a bike path network: As shown in a 1897 map, the Montreal area had a lot of possible cycling routes, though these were not formalized into bike paths/lanes, like today.

Due to limited space, only one of many examples of suburban bike path development in Montreal is discussed.  Starting in 2011, my neighbourhood of Cote Saint-Luc has developed its own bike lane network and its development is still underway.  The network is marked with sharrows on the pavement.

Also, Montreal has an innovative and hugely popular bike-sharing program called Bixi (a portmanteau of “bike” and “taxi”) in and around the city’s core.  Bixi was launched in May 2009, and has over 5,000 bikes available for rent and over 400 stations in its network.  It runs each year from April to November, depending on the weather.  Bixi was modeled after Paris’ Vélib network; in turn, it has inspired similar bike-share programs in other cities, such as Toronto and London, England.

Which is better for Montreal – dedicated bike paths or bike lanes shared with motorists?

Credits: Image and data linked to sources.

Yosef Robinson

Yosef Robinson, born and raised in Montreal, holds a B.A. in Geography with a Minor in Urban Studies from Rutgers University, as well as a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from the Ohio State University. At present, he has finished studying for a Master’s in Environment at Concordia University in Montreal, graduating in June 2012. In that program, he specialized in Environmental Impact Assessments. He is very interested in urban planning and environmental issues, such as transportation, greenspaces, and urban sprawl. As well, he is the co-author of a published article on the growth of Jewish environmental activism in Canada. He is interested in alternate history as an avocation. Yosef Robinson blogged for the GRID until April 2012.

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This entry was posted on Monday, April 9th, 2012 at 7:44 am and is filed under Environmental Design, Infrastructure, Transportation, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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