Pandemic brings new bike and pedestrian paths to NDG - an experiment that could stick

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Terrebonne St. is a busy east-west corridor in NDG, at least for cars. With parking on both sides, it’s a nightmare that many cyclists have tried to avoid.

But the borough has decided the street will now get a dedicated bike path, at least for a few months.

It’s part of an experiment to make several local roads more pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly, carried out because of the pandemic, the borough says—though not only because of the pandemic.

“I've always thought that we should share public space more among cyclists, pedestrians and cars,” says NDG-Cote-des-Neiges Mayor Sue Montgomery.

Aside from the Terrebonne bike path, pedestrian corridors will also be added in Cotes-des-Neiges. To allow for these changes, some parking will be removed on Terrebonne and several side streets.

The shared streets will give pedestrians and cyclists priority over cars, with the idea that more people will be able to enjoy being outside while remaining physically distant.

Montgomery says the changes will be in place by mid-July and will last until the fall, and then the borough will do a survey before deciding whether to keep them.

She says that to her, the move makes sense for bigger reasons, COVID-19 aside.

“We all pay taxes, we all pay for road maintenance and if you look at how much public space is taken up by vehicles, it’s extraordinary,” she said.

One frequent local cyclist agreed the changes have been a long time coming, at least when it comes to Terrebonne. 

“It's scary because you’re usually being tailgated by a vehicle and if there's parked cars there's nowhere for you to hide away,” said Jason Savard of the Association of Pedestrians and Cyclists of NDG.

Others predicted the changes won’t go well and that the experiment will end with the pandemic.

“The worst-case scenario, we wasted $130,000,” said Snowdon city councillor Marvin Rotrand. “Best-case scenario, it will work in some parts of the borough.”

He forecasted less success in areas that are “high density or where it's near a commercial area.” 

Removing parking on Terrebonne isn’t likely to go over well, he said.

“There are hundreds of parking spots, and a lot of them are in front of people's houses, and not everybody has a driveway or a garage.”

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