As part of the city’s Plan de transport, an ambitious set of guidelines designed to decrease the number of cars on city streets and better facilitate traffic and public transport released last year, all 19 boroughs are required to submit a plan de déplacement, also known as a PDU. The PDU released by the Plateau is proving to be very ambitious, containing 49 different actions designed to cut down traffic in and through the borough and to create a better environment for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit. Some highlights from the plan include:
- -Lowering the speed limit on secondary streets to 30 km/h.
- -Building wider sidewalks.
- -Creating more pedestrian-only streets and public spaces.
- -Adding more taxi stands.
- -Prohibiting parking five metres from the corners at about 50 intersections.
- -Improving public transit.
- -Increasing the number of bike lanes, reserved bus and taxi lanes, and build more speed bumps.
- -Installing approximately 100 BIXI bike stands.
- -Building a tramway on ave du Parc.
The plan, which will cost about $2 million per year, over 15 years will affect the 500 000 trips that are made through the borough every day. The Plateau has some of the lowest rates of car ownership in the country so this plan will affect through traffic more than local traffic but will hopefully have an overall positive effect on the city as a whole by changing the habits of car drivers, improving public transit, and setting an example for other boroughs in the city.
A reporter from the McGill Daily recently contacted me to inquire about the plan for a story he was writing, forcing me to take some time to reflect on its pros and cons. While I, and most readers of Spacing Montreal I assume can agree that lowering the number of cars on city streets is a good idea, much more than a small plan from a single borough is needed to make this happen. While grandstanding and back-patting by borough councillors may win them votes from their constituency, the rest of us living and working outside of the Plateau also need a city-wide, comprehensive strategy to get cars off the streets and calm the traffic that remains. Secondary streets across the city should have their speed limits lowered and sidewalks should be friendly and adequate on all streets, especially high traffic arterial street. Most importantly, an infrastructure of good, accessible public transit needs to be built as an incentive for drivers to ditch their car in favour of the bus, metro, or train. At an even higher level, neighbourhoods throughout the city, especially the suburbs, need to be built at a high density in order to make transit and pedestrianisation feasible.
The Plan de Transport takes much of this into account, however, it is still to be seen whether many of the actions taken by the Plateau will also be implemented in other parts of the city, many of which, quite frankly, are much more in need of them than the Plateau.