How To Justify Converting Parking Lanes into Bike Lanes

Montreal city planners used a simple tactic to illustrate the small portion of area car parking that would need to be foregone in order to build a downtown bike path.
Steven Vance / flickr

Every city that's ever considered removing auto parking to make room for a protected bike lane has been, understandably, nervous. North America's best city for biking wasn't immune.

But when it was planning its signature downtown bike project in 2005, Montreal got past those concerns with a very simple tactic. Instead of counting only the change in parking spaces on the boulevard De Maisonneuve itself, a measure that might have led to headlines and perceptions that "half of the parking" was being removed, it counted the total number of auto parking spaces — public and private, on-street and off — within 200 meters of the project.

The district, it turned out, had 11,000 parking spaces. Converting one of the corridor's two auto parking lanes to a protected bikeway would remove 300 of them, or just under 3 percent.

"The effect on the debate was suprise," said Jean-Francois Pronovost of Vélo Québec, the bike advocacy and planning nonprofit contracted by the city to study the issue. "No one estimated that there was that number of car parking [spaces]  available."



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