Viewpoint : November 2012

Just develop bikeways and cyclists will come!

We’re all familiar with the quote from the famous American film Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come”. In the world of cycling, it’s been a long time since we’ve been able to apply this quote to bikeway development. Apart from the unfavourable period of bike routes leading nowhere in the late 70s and the 80s, this image is undeniable. As soon as a route is launched, it is literally invaded. A few years ago, during the paving of the Véloroute de la Chaudière, in Beauce (Route verte), the workers had difficulty keeping cyclists who could wait no longer behind the road rollers… Same scenario in 1999, with the inauguration of the Corridor des Cheminots in Québec City. And the list goes on... Last summer in Montréal, cyclist congestion on certain downtown arteries even made the front pages!

Even though the results of several automated meter reports have not yet been tallied, the year 2012 confirms that the surge in biking noted in Bicycling in Québec in 2010 is truly a basic trend. Increased biker traffic has already been observed on the Véloroute des Bleuets, P’tit Train du Nord, Estriade and several other sections of the Route verte. This year again in Montréal, the statistics compiled to date show spectacular increases on several routes, notably up to 29% on the Berri bike path between De Maisonneuve and Ontario. The trend of using bicycles as means of transportation has been reconfirmed. Same phenomenon for our neighbours in Ottawa. With the development of separate lanes on Laurier Street, biker traffic tripled on this route, while the number of cars decreased, as did the number of accidents involving cyclists and motorists.

Here, we’re talking about bike paths, but what about all those traffic reduction measures implemented in several Québec cities that also benefit cyclists. Next spring, our eyes will be riveted on the Père-Marquette bike boulevard in Québec City, which is nearing completion. In addition to appeasing an entire neighbourhood, and inspired by what is being done in Vancouver, this bike route will become a real priority for cyclists, who will undoubtedly flock to it in great numbers!

Given the general increase in bikeway traffic, we ask the municipalities to pick up the pace in terms of developing infrastructures favourable to cycling. To this end, the Québec government must renew the Fond vert and substantially increase its budget. This would definitely be one of best investments it could ever make!