New safety measures on Camillien-Houde Way raise concern among cyclists

Click to play video 'Montreal cyclists sound the alarm over changes on Mount Royal' Montreal cyclists sound the alarm over changes on Mount Royal
The newly proposed reconfiguration of Camillien-Houde Way is worrisome to some Montreal-area cyclists. As Global's Shakti Langlois-Ortega explains, some people are worried that the proposed safety measures could actually be more dangerous for cyclists – Jun 7, 2019

Cycling advocates are raising concern over new road safety measures announced by the City of Montreal on May 29 that aim to make Mount Royal safer.

Michael Kary, who represents the Ad Hoc Bicycle Advisory Group, says some of the measures will make Camillien-Houde Way dangerous for cyclists.

“It does not resolve the problem … that resulted in the accident that killed Clément Ouimet,” he argued.

Ouimet is the 18-year-old cyclist who died on the road during a training run in 2017 when his bike hit a car that was reportedly making an illegal U-turn.

The city is going to add flexible poles in the street to deter people from making those kinds of U-turns as part of its new safety measures.

Large flower pots will also be added to separate cyclists from cars.

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But Kary thinks putting obstacles on the road makes it more dangerous for cyclists.

“The flexible posts themselves are a big hazard,” he said.

Félix-Antoine Tremblay — a master’s candidate in civil engineering whose thesis focuses on cycling development — contributed to last year’s public consultation on Camillien-Houde Way, which was led by Montreal’s Office of Public Consultation.

He also voiced concern about the city’s plans.

“In the case of flower pots, anyone hitting them would be coming to a full stop immediately. In case of a cyclist, this probably means severe injuries or death,” he said.

Many cyclists use the steep hill to train. Their bikes can reach speeds upwards of 50 kilometres per hour, which is the current speed limit on the road.

The city also plans to widen the shoulder in some areas, but Kary says this could be more dangerous for cyclists. He argues that cyclists should, in fact, ride among cars on the main road instead of being limited to the shoulder.

“Car traffic helps bicyclists a lot,” he said. “It keeps the roadway clear of debris by sweeping it to the side and it keeps the road clear of pedestrians.”

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Kary adds that the shoulder of the road is a dangerous place to ride.

Tremblay agrees. He says allowing bikes on the road, especially downhill, ensures that cyclists are seen by drivers.

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“When the cyclists are going at high speed — like 50 kilometres per hour — downhill, they need a wider road to ride safely,” he added.

Vélo Québec CEO Suzanne Lareau says the ideal solution would be to eliminate cars on the mountain altogether, but she is happy the city is doing something to solve the problem.

“I want to see those measures in place before I [can] say if it’s good or not,” she said.

Mayor Valérie Plante, on the other hand, says she is confident her team is doing a good job.

“If there has to be changes in the future … of course we will do them. But the plan we have right now is very strong,” she said on Thursday.

The new measures should be in place in the coming weeks.