Montreal announces $17-million plan to create 36 km of new bike paths around the city

Projet Montreal announced 41 projects to improve the bicycle network on the island — a plan that includes 36 kilometres of bike paths costing $17 million.

The bike paths are not just for cyclists; they are to offer mobility options to others, too.

"It’s with the aim of offering a safe and comfortable network to all Montrealers," said Marianne Giguere, who sits on the city's executive committee.

The plan is to connect current bike paths to offer better commuting. The director of Montreal Public Health, Dr. David Kaiser, said neighbourhoods will need to be redesigned.

"If we put in secure bike paths, separated from traffic, that connects people to their jobs, places they need to go, people will use their bikes,” he said.

This Projet Montreal plan is ambitious and sees cyclists and motorists co-existing.

"It's very interesting to put bike lanes. I think people want them, people like them but we need to take the time to talk to people, to explain what it means, what's going to happen for them," said city councillor Sophie Mauzerelle.

Not everyone, however, thinks the timeline is reasonable.

"We're always happy when we have bike lanes that are announced, but it's too little too late because at this rate it's going to take 40 years," said Severine Le Page of Velo Fantome, the organization that installs ghost bikes where fatal accidents happen.

She said this plan is not enough, "to complete the network of expected 800 kilometres of bike lanes that we need in this city," said Le Page.

"Right now, there's a total of maybe 400 kilometres in the city, but 4,100 km of roads. So, it's a great imbalance."

All parties agree the number of cyclists keeps growing. Bixi bikes keep setting new records with more than 50,000 rentals a day, which is a good indicator of overall bicycle traffic in Montreal, according to Jean-Francois Rheault of Velo Quebec.

"It shows that cycling is very popular and the city needs to respond to this demand by building more protected infrastructure for people to cycle."

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