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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Images of a Car-Free Future

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There has been much criticism of the City’s and the AMT’s half-hearted ‘journée sans voiture’ which took place Monday. Perhaps rightly so, given its toothless roads closures (timed not to interrupt rush-hour traffic) and the fact that the STM was not even willing to support the event by offer free rides for the day, as in past years. Those displeased with this lackluster showing should have come to the ‘Die-In’, an annual cycle advocacy event which draws attention to the handful of cyclists killed or injured in our city each year. According to one report, 1 522 pedestrians and 798 cyclists were injured by cars in 2007, a number which is likely underestimated given the number of unreported incidents.

The event attracted a variety of species endangered by cars and their atmospheric effects.

At the corner of McGill College and Ste. Catherine, over 2oo people lay down to observe seven minutes of relative silence. Passers-by were, for the most part, curious and respectful. I found the effect eerie and powerful. I’ve been a cyclist in this city long enough to have a good number of friends bruised and in casts from their run-ins. And I’ve heard enough reports of worse. I don’t want to start a debate about whether cyclists or cars are more dangerous in their driving behaviour. (Although I never heard of a drunk cyclist killing anyone.) The point is, they should not have to compete for space on the road; there simply needs to be an adequate network of single-purpose lanes for both.

I just liked this photo.



  1. Monday morning, the very same day of the journée sans voiture, I witnessed a horrible accident between and cyclist and a cab. It happened around 9:10AM on the busy, crazy corner of Guy and de Maisonneuve. Many people were on their cell phones, and a group had surrounded the cyclist who was twitching in pain on the ground. Deciding not to add o the crowd, I continued to work where I promptly called the police.
    The city is as much to blame as anyone involved in the accident, I told the officer who answered the phone. That corner is incredibly dangerous. The pedestrians are asleep on their feet, the vehicules are agressive and pushy, and the bicycles are an afterthought – forced to dodge between the hundreds of menances.
    What can we do to make that corner safe, I asked the police officer…. I ask YOU the same.

  2. Les taxis sont le plus gros danger sur les routes. Combien de fois j’ai failli me faire ecraser par un taxi qui roule en malade…

  3. Maybe, to make the corner safer, we should all acknowledge that it is, has been, and will for some time be a construction zone.

  4. This is very sad, especially considering a (practically) carfree city would require taxis. Hopefully with fewer private cars, and much stricter screening, they would be safer.

    That is a horrible corner. I imagine the ghost of Dr Bethune descending from his pedestal to smite the aggressive drivers.

    Please take a look at or to see what is possible – in northern cities! ù

  5. To make the corner safe, people need to complain to our elected officials. Go to council meetings and demand changes. Have petitions signed and present them to the city. Sure, a “die-in” may raise awareness of the issue but it will never really change anything. Only constructive action and lobbying of our elected officials will do that.

  6. Construction on that corner means that the cycle path is also a sidewalk. Combine that with the busy, two-way street (one of the few ways to get down the hill) and you’ve got what happens.

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