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Montreal Plan to Ban Cars From Major Park Doesn't Stick

Following a fatal collision between a motorist and a competitive cyclist, Montreal tried closing a stretch of roadway through Mount Royal Park. The pilot encountered fierce opposition.
April 19, 2019, 8am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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In late 2017, a fatal crash killed an 18-year-old cyclist along "Camillien Houde Parkway, a limited-access road that traces the northern edge of the Mount Royal Park, a 500-acre artificial wilderness in the middle of the city that’s home to Montreal's namesake dwarf mountain," Taylor C. Noakes writes.

Occurring just before municipal elections, the crash highlighted road safety issues as Montreal's first female mayor, Valérie Plante, entered office. "Early in their mandate, the Plante administration instituted a pilot project closing a 550-meter stretch of Camillien Houde Parkway to through traffic, except for buses and emergency vehicles, in an effort to improve cyclist and pedestrian safety."

The car ban lasted from June through October of 2018, but came up against heavy opposition. "Despite the city's well-deserved bike-friendly reputation, [...] opponents of the traffic study—many of them hailing from Montreal's suburbs—argued that motorists were being unfairly punished for a single accident."

Noakes discusses the long and contentious history of Mount Royal Park, designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and destined throughout its history to engender debate over the proper uses of urban public space.

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Published on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 in CityLab
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