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Mount Royal pilot project officially comes to an end as through traffic resumes

Cars drive through on Camillien Houde Way and Remembrance Road, as workers wash away markings associated with the temporary closure over the summer.  The street was re-opened hours before.  (Global News).
Cars drive through on Camillien Houde Way and Remembrance Road, as workers wash away markings associated with the temporary closure over the summer. The street was re-opened hours before. (Global News).

Hours after it reopened to cars Wednesday, workers were still washing away clues that Remembrance Road had been partially closed to through traffic for five months.

The partial ban on that street and Camillien-Houde Way was part of a pilot project to reduce the number of motor vehicles crossing Mount Royal. Public transport and emergency vehicles were exempt.

READ MORE: No charges to be laid in collision causing death of Mount Royal cyclist

The city launched the project in June following calls to make the route safer for vulnerable road users after 18-year-old cyclist Clément Ouimet died in October 2017 in a collision with an SUV.

“Camillien-Houde is an accident-prone street,” explained Luc Ferrandez, the City of Montreal executive committee member responsible for large parks, green spaces.

“It had 140 accidents in the last 10 years.”

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Now he and other city officials are looking at the results of the pilot project. The good news is there were no accidents and some of the anticipated fears were unfounded, such as concerns that there would be more congestion on surrounding streets during the closure.

“We have facts now saying that it didn’t happen,” says Ferrandez.

Ferrandez claims that new facilities installed to encourage visitors to check out Mount Royal were well used despite the road closure. A temporary café on the mountain welcomed thousands.

Equal accessibility for all?

Hélène Panaïoti of Friends of the Mountain, a group dedicated to protecting the space, said they observed problems with accessibility, especially for people with mobility issues.

“If you want to go to Smith House to start with and then continue to a cemetery or Beaver Lake, you actually would have to go back down [the hill], circle around the mountain and then come back up the other way,” she told Global News. “So people probably had to do more driving.”

“There was a lot of frustration.”

READ MORE: Montreal to hold public talks before limiting cars on Mount Royal

Because there were more pedestrians on the road mixed with cars and cyclists, there was road use conflict, making it even more unsafe in some circumstances.

“The whole purpose of the road was changed in a temporary way,” explained Panaïot.

“Without any permanent infrastructure in order to make road sharing conditions what they should be.”

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She says it’s too soon to know if the partial closure should be permanent, but hopes that whatever decision is made will ensure equal accessibility for all.

Public consultations on whether or not to make the ban permanent continue.