Saturday, May 28, 2011

Laurier avenue improvements - the painting is down

I've been really busy with work and life as well as having a hard time believing that Spring is really here with this constant end-of-times rain we've been having. But seeing actual activity on the work being done on avenue Laurier spurred me to take a picture and do some blog posting.

Quite soon after Projet Montreal got elected to the borough of the Plateau, they announced a bunch of fairly radical traffic-calming measurements, the biggest one being the transition of Laurier from Saint-Laurent to Mentana from a two-way street to a one-way street with a dedicated bike lane and widened sidewalks. The project was supposed to start last fall but got pushed back to this Spring. I remember having a meeting with our landlord at work, which is the Fabrique of the church and one of the older Marguillier (literally Churchwarden, one of the people responsible for the management of a parish) saying with some smug bitterness that it was never going to happen. You may recall that much of the opposition against the closing of roads came from older members of the church for reasons I still don't fully understand. He seemed to be fully in that camp and as we were negotiating other stuff, I did not press him on this. I wonder how he feels today, seeing that early last week the cops blocked off the westbound lane, getting drivers prepared for its absence. Since then, they have painted the lines, funnelling traffic into a single lane heading east and creating two nice wide lanes for bikes.

Looking west

Looking east

It's pretty nice, but this much space for the bikes will only last until they start widening the sidewalk. Though I could be wrong about that. I think one side will be bikes going in two directions and the other will be the wider sidewalk, though it could be that bikes will have dedicated lanes in each direction, which would be pretty sweet.

Also, will there be no parking at all on Laurier?

When I see how bottled up the cars get with only a single lane, it makes me think that for sure smart commuters are going to start avoiding Laurier, which is a good thing. But it also makes me think that this transformation only affects the symptoms and not the disease, to some degree. There still are a lot of lazy, greedy car owners who live in and around the Plateau who could be using other modes of transportation, but the majority of drivers are coming from places where they don't have good alternatives other than cars for getting to their jobs. So these changes just make their commuting life less pleasant. Honestly, as people who know my position on cars can guess, I'm not too sympathetic with them. Nevertheless, our larger governments, the municipal and provincial need to start putting in longer-term and longer range mass transport alternatives for these people. This is certainly not the responsibility of the borough governments. I applaud Projet Montreal for making this change, as it is a fairly powerful move towards a more responsible and social form of urban transport.

I'll be keeping you posted as the work continues.


Jason L said...

Here is some pretty intense debate here in Vancouver over the future of all the new bike lanes that the city have installed. A lot of prime street parking has been lost and the businesses are the ones who are primarily up in arms.

The mayor (himself a cyclist) seems to be following the strategy of put your head down, install the infrastructure and more than likely people will get used to it.

Hopefully Montreal will continue on this pro-bike route.

meezly said...

I didn't realize they already started work on creating bike paths on Laurier! cool!