New bike lanes in Sud-Ouest borough get greeted with cheers from cyclists, jeers from others

The expansion of Montreal's bike lane network in the Sud-Ouest borough has cyclists cheering, but others are calling on the city to grip the brakes.

For Etienne Pemberton-Renaub of Mobilite St-Henri, the new lanes, which are part of the project known as Reseau Express Velo, or REV, are a welcome addition.

“It's going to allow us to choose bicycles as our main form of transportation. I actually sold my car last week because this is here now,” he said.

The future of the expansion, however, remains in the balance with a municipal election just months away.

“With elections coming up in November, the question is, 'Who's gonna win?'” said Dan Lambert of the Montreal Active Mobility Coalition. “If it's Projet Montreal, then we expect they're going to continue with their program of very actively promoting cycling as a mode of transportation.”

However, with former mayor Denis Coderre once again in the running, cycling's place in Montreal's transport plans are in question. Coderre recently criticized the St-Denis portion of the REV, and he's not alone. Critics have called the lanes bad for business, saying they back up traffic and make parking difficult.

Muriel Rajaonina, owner of Qui Dort Dine, said she's lost customers to the St-Denis bike lanes.

“Right now we have about a dozen clients a week who phone us and say 'We've been driving around for half an hour, we can't find parking. We're very sorry, but we're going to shop somewhere else,” she said.

She said the loss of parking has also been an issue for essential services.

“For firefighters, just to turn from any street onto St-Denis is a nightmare if there's traffic because there's just no room.”