Home to nearly 536,000 regular cyclists, Montreal – which is home to 1.7 million people – wants to get more people to commute on bicycles, boosting trips made by bike from 2.5 percent to 15 percent by 2032. As part of its “Vision Zero” campaign, the city is investing $150 million on bike infrastructure to ensure safety and accessibility for cyclists. The city will provide more connectivity for downtown cyclists and more bike parking to promote cycling as a safe and effective means of travel.
Vision Zero is a campaign launched in 2016 aimed at reducing to zero the number of deaths and serious injuries on Montreal roads. As part of the campaign, the city is lowering speed limits on many streets and working on plans to reconfigure 67 intersections to make them safer.
The announcement comes one day after the death of a 61-year-old woman just around the corner of Avenue des Pins and Parc Avenue after being hit by an empty school bus while riding her bike. Elsewhere in the city, a 24-year-old was seriously injured after being struck by an 18-year-old driver with a learner’s permit in Ville-Marie. In July of this year, Meryem Anoun, a 41-year-old single mother of three fatally collided with a truck while running an errand on bike for a friend’s wedding.
A “ghost bike” ceremony was held after Anoun’s death; a ghost bike is when a bicycle is painted white and parked at the exact spot where the cyclist died as a result of the road collision. There are six ghost bikes in Montreal, four of which represent cyclists who were killed by heavy trucks – just like Anoun. However, Anoun’s death is argued to be a fault in the truck design rather than road design. “She was killed by a truck driver who didn’t see her,” said Gabrielle Anctil, who founded Ghost Bike Montreal in 2013. Anctil adds that blind spots on a truck are a question of design. “We can design trucks better; we can think about the way they circulate on the city streets.”
Ghost Bike Montreal and Vélo Québec, a bike-touring planning service, petitioned the Montreal municipality to tighten their grip on rules imposed on trucks, pointing to London as an example to follow. London has restricted trucks’ accessibility in certain areas of the city at certain times of day depending on the size of their blind spots.
Many civil groups and cycling communities around the world have been calling on city governments to keep cyclists in the picture while planning cities; others have given up on getting the support of municipalities and have gone on to build their own guerrilla bike lanes. Some have even created inclusive bike sharing systems, enabling different-abled persons to take to the roads on two wheels. In Portland, Adaptive Biketown, a bike-sharing system for disabled persons, launched last month after outcry from the disabled community and their families. Chloe Eudaly, a Portland city commissioner who has a disabled child, wrote a post denouncing the exclusiveness of last year’s Biketown on her electoral campaign’s Facebook page: “It’s exciting to finally be getting a bike share program, but I was disappointed to find out that the program excludes people with mobility challenges. How is a 1,000 bike program without a single adapted bike equitable or inclusive?”