A controversial bike path project that eliminated parking along Terrebonne Street in Montreal’s west end is likely headed to an early grave after mounting opposition in the community spurred city officials to action.
“We meant well. We really wanted to help, but we made a mistake. So let’s start back from square one,” said Loyola district Coun. Christian Arseneault, who was among the original backers of the project.
Arsenault said it is time to get the community involved in designing a bike path that works for them, rather than pushing forward with a project without consultation.
The bike path initiative was unanimously approved by the Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough council as part of a 200-part omnibus bill earlier this summer. It was installed late last month.
Flexible posts line a nearly three-kilometre stretch of Terrebonne to create one-way bike lanes on the north and south side of the street.
An online petition against the path has garnered more than 1,600 signatures, and the borough has been dealing with a flood of angry emails and calls.
“We need to admit when there is too much trouble associated with the option we chose and go back to the drawing board,” Arsenault said.
Arsenault’s three fellow Projet Montréal councillors in Côte-Des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-De-Grâce are ready to support a motion being put forward by independent Coun. Marvin Rotrand at Monday’s council meeting.
It calls on the bike lanes to be eliminated by Wednesday of next week. Darlington Coun. Lionel Perez of Ensemble Montréal will be seconding the motion.
“We’ve disrupted an entire neighbourhood. Summer is coming to a quick close. Hardly anybody uses it,” Rotrand said.
Meanwhile, he said, churches, schools, homes and seniors’ residence are suffering. For people with mobility issues, the bike lane has created a crisis, he said, as many homes along the stretch do not have private parking.
Father Raymond Lafontaine of St. Monica’s Parish has also joined the fight. He said there are ways for cars, cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist.
“We get concerned because a lot of our parishioners are elderly, have limited mobility and they literally have nowhere to park now when they come to church, not to mention weddings or funerals,” he said.
Among them is Mary Jo Lewis who said the bike path is “interfering with my life.”
“My legs get sore and tired. My balance is an issue also,” said Lewis, who has multiple sclerosis and relied on the curbside parking in front of her home on Terrebonne for easy access.
She wants the bike paths gone immediately because, she said, “Why should we make life harder for ourselves? Or anybody else make it harder for us?”
Borough mayor Sue Montgomery said the bike path was always meant to be a temporary measure, and was slated to removed in the fall. The borough is surveying the population, and many support the project, Montgomery said.
“They’re happy their kids can now ride safely to school or just on family outings,” she said. She added that she understands some people are upset about parking.
She said the borough has been working with the parish and the community to find solutions.
“My door is open. I’m willing to talk to people,” she said.
A working group will be established to figure out the next step for Terrebonne, she said, but she doesn’t want it taken down immediately.
“It will be taken down in the fall,” Montgomery said. “We have all winter to debate, to discuss, to reassess and I invite everyone to keep an open mind. Let’s work together.”