Finally, after all these years, Westmount city council seems intent to seriously look at the possibility of keeping the bike path on de Maisonneuve open to cyclists year round — and possibly abolishing parking on the south side of the street between Atwater and Greene Avenue.
While cycling has increased in popularity over the past few years and the City of Montreal has taken great steps in helping that happen (with the addition of the extremely popular Bixi bikes and much-needed expansions to the bike path network), winter cycling continues to be – for many boroughs and cities- an afterthought.
As it currently stands, winter cyclists have to find alternate routes when they travel through Westmount, since the section of the bike path on de Maisonneuve, between Green and Atwater, reverts to on-street parking between mid-November and April.
Although the measure provides extra parking for clients of Westmount Square and Place Alexis Nihon, it makes these destinations – as well as Dawson College – more difficult and dangerous to access by bike. East-bound cyclists find themselves heading into oncoming, one-way traffic and must either brave it for two blocks or make a two-block detour onto Ste.Catherine Street.
Many, of course, would argue that the quantity of people that use those parking spaces far outweigh cyclists in the colder months, but until there is a truly functional, well-connected and safe bicycle network in the city, how will we ever know to what extent the use of bikes during the winter months, will be used as a valid means of transportation?
Yes, there are many issues involved in keeping the bike paths open all year round in Westmount and mayor Trent is wising in taking his time to look at them all carefully. But, that being said, every cyclist means one less car on our congested roads and that improves everyone’s quality of life.