Have you ever noticed how hard it is to read street names in Montreal? The white signs bearing street names are sometimes hidden. They are so small that while driving it is necessary to come to a near stop at street corners to make out what they say.
The city of Montreal recognizes the problem and intends to put things in order. Most importantly, the population is growing older: 15.2% of Montreal’s inhabitants are sixty-five and older. In 2026, this proportion will have grown to one in five.
Without causing a sensation, the city started a pilot project on Sherbrooke Street to create street name plaques that are larger and in bold colors so that people both young and old can read them easily.
No less than five signs now adorn the intersection of Sherbrooke and Cuvillier Streets in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. One red, one blue, one grey, and two white. One of these signs measures 200mm by 750mm – the usual format – while the others have a larger design, equaling 300mm by 1200mm. “Between you and me, it isn’t always easy to locate street names in Montreal. We are trying to decide upon a format, font, and color that will make street names easier to read,” explains Guy Pellerin, a traffic engineer and division head who sits on the transport society’s board of directors.
Guy Pellerin and his team are also seeking to establish the optimal height at which to hang the signs – which seems to be around 4.3 meters for a main road like Sherbrooke, compared to a height of three meters or less for smaller roads. The plaques must be visible, but not too much so: it is also necessary to see traffic lights, benches, businesses, and trees. The tests, which began last November, will continue for several more weeks at other intersections. If all goes as planned, the “improved” street signs will become part of a two kilometer stretch of Sherbrooke street that runs between the Pie-IX Boulevard and Frontenac Street, which will be completely rebuilt two years from now.
Walkways for Pedestrians
Other measures for helping elderly people are in preparation. The city plans on extending the time-window for pedestrian crossing at 1,200 different intersections beginning next year. More crosswalk timers will be installed to display the time remaining for crossing. The city also intends on ensuring that an area of five meters around intersections will be clear in order to make pedestrian crossing safer.
What other elements of an urban landscape are essential to accessibility and the needs of elderly residents? How can they be improved?
Credits: Images and data linked to sources.
Original article, originally published in French, here.