Celebrating PARK(ing) day in Montréal

On September 21, Montréal once again celebrated the annual PARK(ing) Day, an international event that encourages citizens to transform the space inefficiently occupied by parked cars into public space to facilitate non-motorized mobility, play, rest, social interaction, and more.

This year, Vélo Québec, Coalition Vélo Montréal, and a number of other local cycling advocacy groups joined forces to create a temporary protected, unidirectional bike lane on Sherbrooke Street — a major east-west artery and the second-longest street on the Island of Montréal. Like many other urban arteries, Sherbrooke has no bicycle infrastructure whatsoever, yet is heavily used by many hundreds of bicycle users every day as a direct and central A-to-B connection. Today, it’s a prime location for dooring, as it forces bicycle users to travel in the narrow space between moving vehicles and parked cars. While the brave may still choose to take to the streets on bicycle, Sherbrooke does not promote cycling for all ages and abilities.

 
 Bicycle users make use of the temporary protected lane on Sherbrooke Street. (Coalition Vélo Montréal)

Bicycle users make use of the temporary protected lane on Sherbrooke Street. (Coalition Vélo Montréal)

 

The temporary bike lane created for PARK(ing) Day attempted to demonstrate that by eliminating these risks, the street can offer protection so that the brave need not be, and the city can attract new bicycle users for a healthier future. Without on-street parking, there is more than enough room for a physically separated cycle path. Despite a rainy morning, the bike lane was used by masses of cyclists, especially during the morning rush hour, to no surprise. Tactical projects like this show us that Montréal will never be fully bicycle-friendly until major streets like Sherbrooke have protected infrastructure, allowing cyclists of all ages and abilities to use them comfortably. The advocates who collaborated on PARK(ing) Day hoped to convince the public that the ideas showcased with the temporary bike lane should become a permanent fixture in the city, now passing the ball to the City to build, build, build.