Students are back in full-swing for the Fall school semester, which is especially exciting for university students attending the newly opened University of Montréal Campus MIL. Located at the crossroads of five boroughs and an independent municipality in the heart of the island of Montréal, this huge swath of land was once a railway yard that ceased operations back in 1985. The Campus MIL has been in redevelopment for almost 15 years, and focuses on sustainable design, with ample green areas and a new bicycle and pedestrian bridge.
Recently, the Copenhagenize team in Montréal took a bike trip to visit the newly-opened site and crossed over the bicycle and pedestrian bridge. The “Blue Line” as the University has named the bridge, connects the Parc-Extension and Outremont boroughs, two neighbourhoods that were previously separated by the rail line. Parc-Extension in particular has always been a fairly isolated neighbourhood, and so now has additional walking and cycling connections, but up to this point has not been as affected by the majority of gentrification in Montréal. With the Campus MIL development project, there are some concerns that this is increasing demand in the area, increasing pressure on residents of Parc-Extension to move as housing costs rise, given the high demand for housing in the wealthier neighbouring boroughs.
There are additional concerns over the pedestrian and bicycle bridge, as the University tries to deter bicycle riders from cycling over the bridge, and instead encourages users to walk their bikes. The design of the bridge allows for pedestrians and bicycle riders to use the bridge simultaneously, with a smooth and calm slope to allow comfortable climbing and slower descents on the north side, but preemptive fear over potential conflicts are deterring the University from taking full advantage of their newly built infrastructure.
As part of the Site Outremont redevelopment around the campus that our team has been involved in, new Copenhagen-style grade-separated protected bike lanes were constructed on Avenue Thérèse Lavoie-Roux, a street that runs directly through the Campus MIL. Over the coming years, additional bicycle infrastructure will be implemented by the City throughout the area, following a series of design recommendations prepared by the Copenhagenize team.
There are still areas for improvement in the Campus MIL bicycle infrastructure, but the movement towards a more bicycle-friendly architecture and landscaping is an important step. We look forward to seeing University of Montréal students riding to school throughout the year, taking advantage of these new paths and active transportation options.