Martin C. Barry
After staging a demo last May on the east side of Laval on the configuration of the city’s network of bike paths, members of the Action Laval city hall opposition spent part of last Saturday drawing attention to the issue on the west side in Sainte-Dorothée.
A trouble spot
Up to 100 people from the area as well as from other Laval districts took part in the march that started near the corner of Samson Blvd. and Cléophas Charbonneau St. then proceeded westward along Bord-de-l’Eau Road.
Samson and Cléophas Charbonneau is considered to be an especially troublesome spot, because of massive traffic bottlenecks that take place at the intersection on an almost daily basis during rush hours.
Few bicycles on path
While dense rush hour traffic at the corner of Samson and Cléophas Charbonneau has been a common sight for years, critics say the situation got worse when the city reduced the number of regular traffic lanes to create the bike path. They also say that during rush hours few people are actually using the bike path.
Regarding the Vimont and Sainte-Dorothée bike paths, Action Laval’s position is that the administration of Mayor Marc Demers used a one-size-fits-all approach when implementing the paths, rather than taking into account local factors.
Rush hour traffic jams
“We’re here to try to convince the city that these bike paths are unsafe and very problematic, especially for the residents of Sainte-Dorothée,” said Action Laval city councillor for Chomedey Aglaia Revelakis. (The area is represented by Mouvement lavallois councillor Ray Khalil, who was not present at the protest.)
“There is major traffic congestion here every morning,” added Revelakis. “It takes people at least an hour just get from home to Autoroute 13. We want to the city to understand that we are not against bike paths. But at the same time we have to make sure than when they are installed they are safe and not problematic.”
‘Not Le Plateau’: Revelakis
Revelakis and others believe the city greatly underestimated the number of bicycle users in Sainte-Dorothée and other areas in Laval when it began implementing the bike path network several years ago as part of an overall traffic plan.
“People have to understand that Laval is not Le Plateau,” she said, referring to the trendy neighbourhood near downtown Montreal. “We are not accustomed to taking our bikes to go to work.
Caution with bike paths
“Yes, bikes are good and we must encourage anything that is good for the environment. But at the same time there has to be caution when installing these bike paths. Because if they’re problematic and causing people problems, then that’s a problem that needs to be fixed.”
Action Laval city councillor for Saint-Bruno David De Cotis noted that the traffic which idles daily at the intersection is pumping additional pollution into the atmosphere while cancelling any environmental benefits from the bike paths.
“How much greenhouse emissions is each motorist causing?” he asked. “We’re not against bike paths. We’re against the way the administration of Marc Demers randomly deployed these bike paths.”
A resident’s perspective
Hassan Ibrahim, a Sainte-Dorothée resident who took part in the protest, agreed that the intersection is very problematic and the situation is made worse by a poorly-implemented bike path.
“I live five minutes from here, but every morning I wait here for up to an hour just to get onto the thirteen,” he said, while adding that he is seriously considering moving out of the area. While admitting that he and his family own bicycles, he said getting to work on time in the morning is their priority.