Increasingly, parking your bike in busy areas like the Plateau is almost as hard as parking a car. This summer, though, the Plateau Mont-Royal borough will be leading the way in giving cyclists more places to rest their two-wheelers. By the time autumn arrives later this year, the Plateau’s 1,500 parking spots will have doubled to more than 3,000.
“The Plateau is the single area with the most cyclists in all of North America. Seven per cent of all movements are made by bike. That’s a lot, but we don’t have enough places for everyone to park their bike,” says Michel Labrecque, city councillor for Mile-End and the man in charge of the Plateau’s new Plan de déplacement urbain, which will guide the borough’s approach to transportation over the next few years.
A big part of that approach is to give priority to “active” modes of transportation like cycling and walking. So far, one way of doing that has been to replace parking spots for cars with on-street bicycle parking areas, several of which have already been implemented on busy retail streets like St-Viateur, Laurier and Mont-Royal, as well as in front of schools, daycares, housing co-ops and the Maison des cyclistes on Rachel.
“When we take away a parking spot, some people think of it as ‘their’ parking space and they might get angry. But that’s what it takes to make a change in the modal split, the way people get around. We can put between five and eight bikes in the amount of space that a single car would occupy,” says Labrecque. “We installed one next to the YMCA because it’s always full of bikes. There’s one on Laurier near Laurier Park, in front of a Metro supermarket, and it’s always full too, so it might be enlarged this year.”
While the on-street parking areas that currently exist can accommodate about 160 bikes, the Plateau plans to add four to six new areas this summer, with room for an additional 56 bikes. This doesn’t include the 14 parking areas, with space for 175 bikes, that will be built on the newly renovated St-Laurent, or the expanded parking area in front of the Plateau library and Maison de la culture, on Mont-Royal, which will be made permanent this year.
Each on-street parking area costs between $4,000 and $6,000 to install, but it’s well worth it, says Michel Tanguy, a Plateau borough spokesman. “The borough has really taken off in a direction that will see the number of spaces for bikes do nothing but increase.”
Still, he and Labrecque both admit that, even after this summer, the Plateau will remain far from satisfying the ever increasing demand for bike parking—a demand that could take at least several years to meet.
“Where I look for parking is always where I do my shopping. It’s been difficult,” says Owen Rose, an eastern Plateau resident, architect and president of the Urban Ecology Centre. “You’re basically looking for parking meter posts because there are so few bike racks. There aren’t enough spots and, even after doubling, there will be more demand for next year.”
Of course, he adds, “the more the better. It’s a formal invitation [to ride your bike.] Anything that is an incentive is good.”
This article was originally published in the May 15 edition of the Montreal Mirror.
Tags: Bicycles, Bike Parking, Mile End, Montreal, Plateau Mont-Royal