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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

Villeray’s piéton vert

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A few days ago spray-painted footsteps appeared at intersections in the south-west part of Villeray, with the stencil “Réclamez un passage.” I’m happy to see them. From my home nearby I frequently hear tires screeching as cars stop abruptly for pedestrians and other cars, and at the end of the workday north-bound traffic races from stop sign to stop sign on the side streets. I’ve seen two accidents since moving to the area in May, and a recent car-pedestrian accident inspired workers at a neighbourhood restaurant to petition for all-direction stop signs at ave. Henri-Julien and rue de Castelnau.

Photo taken August 5th, 2009 at ave. Henri-Julien and rue de Castelnau.

Traffic on Faillon, de Castelnau, and other east/west-bound streets in Villeray generally does not face stop signs, and thus the 30 km/h limit is more of a suggestion. This is compounded with a lack of cross-walks, and visibility around each corner is low for north/south-bound vehicles (including bikes) due to parked cars.

While traffic is a problem throughout the city, I never saw so many close calls when I lived in the Plateau, where traffic-calming measures are increasingly present. Why shouldn’t this be the case in other boroughs? A study on traffic calming in Montreal shows that although both the Plateau and Villeray-St. Michel-Parc Extension boroughs have similar traffic densities, the latter is home to many more traffic-related injuries (notwithstanding its much lower population density). The study’s data is a few years old, but I don’t doubt it is still the case.

The stenciled footsteps are alongside the Réseau ACCÈS MONTRÉAL number, 311, which residents can call to file complaints and requests with the city.

Please let me know if you’ve seen the piéton vert‘s work elsewhere.



  1. On n’en entend malheureusement pas beaucoup parler, mais un projet de Quartier 21 a été mis sur pieds dans Villeray (annoncé ce printemps), misant principalement sur le transport actif et la sécurité.

    On peut donc s’attendre à voir apparaître un bon nombre d’initiatives qui visent à favoriser le sort des piétons dans le quartier, d’ici les prochaines années.

  2. There shall be no need for a “passage”, as there already is one. The intersection.

    Legally, intersections are de facto crosswalks and pedestrians already have priority over cars.

    Are pedestrians giving up their rights during the winter where the snow makes the road markings invisible? Of course not!

  3. When I moved up to Villeray from the Plateau in 2005 I was surprised at how mellow the drivers seemed. I’d expected more aggression in people coming on or off the 40, but I kept being waved across streets by patient drivers. It still surprises me.

  4. Jean,

    Pedestrians have de jure (legal) rights to priority at unmarked intersections. De facto – don’t bet your life on it.

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