Much of Lachine Canal bike path closed
Late season cyclists trying to use western sections of the Lachine Canal bike path are now confronted locked gates preventing access to the bike path. There are also signs indicating that the bike path will remain closed from until spring, 2018 while lighting is installed. The Parks Canada website clarifies the reopening to be in May, 2018.
“Parks Canada has announced an investment of $170 million over the next five years for the Lachine Canal National Historic Site to upgrade its facilities and thus enhance the overall experience of more than a million people who visit the site annually,” reads an online text. “Please comply with onsite signage and be cautious while adapting your trips using the municipal bike path network or other safe alternative routes.”
But many municipal bike paths close for the season on November 15; even now, finding safe alternative routes is already a challenge.
“I had to detour onto St. Patrick Street instead of using the canal bike path. It’s OK when traffic is light although the road surface is bad in many places. It’s impossible to relax when you’re sharing the road with semi-trailers, buses and other motor vehicles,” cyclist Conway Daly of St. Henri told The Times.
About one million cyclists visit the park annually and the bike path is a veritable 14km bicycle highway between Old Montreal and Lachine.The section now closed is from Monk Street Bridge near Highway 15 to du Musée Street on the edge of Lac St. Louis, a distance of some 7km.
“We met recently with Parks Canada...and asked that they ensure a safe bike path detour if the path must be closed and that should be worked out with the adjacent boroughs.They have said they would try but, apparently have not succeeded,” explained Dan Lambert of the Montreal Bicycle Coalition.
Lambert is also a big advocate of encouraging the population to commute to work on bikes and keeping bike paths open through the winter.
“Parks Canada still considers the Park is mainly for leisure use and do not seem yet fully committed to ensuring continued [bicycling] on protected bicycle paths.As for keeping the bicycle path open 12 months a year, so far the efforts have been directed towards getting the adjacent boroughs to clear the [snow] because Parks Canada does not have the budget or staff.”
Montreal hosted the international Winter Cycling Congress this past February to vaunt how “bike-friendly” this city is 12 months of the year. Marc-André Gadoury, who was responsible for bicycling under the Coderre administration, previously told The Times that the Lachine Canal bike path should open for cycling this winter. Instead, gates are locked, no snow clearing will be happening and safe detours can be difficult to find.
The Times also spoke to Parks Canada communications officer Anne Marie LaBrèque. We asked why it takes seven months to install lighting and why the path must remain closed during this time. By press time, we had not received answers...
Lambert also mentioned difficulties in trying to get Parks Canada to work with municipal governments to ensure good bicycling facilities. “This has been a very frustrating and difficult Initiative for the Montreal Bike Coalition,” he concluded.
Lachine Bike path in the summer months