News | Montreal cuts bikes off trees

City cracking down on illegally parked bikes in Plateau-Mont Royal borough

The Plateau-Mont-Royal borough is cracking down on bikes locked to trees, a protocol in line with a legislation in effect since 1999.

Genevieve Fabio, spokesperson of Plateau-Mont-Royal, explained that it is illegal to lock bicycles around trees because the force exerted by the bike on the plant is potentially harmful.

“If its a tree, it’s alive,” Fabio said. “If you do something bad with your lock you ruin the trees. That’s why we have the rule and that’s why we enforce it.”

According to Le Journal de Montréal, the first major crackdown occurred in August when 15 bikes were confiscated. Ten more were seized in the last week of October.

The rule may apply anytime an inspector spots an offense, according to Fabio, and the rule applies everywhere in the borough. As of yet, bikes have only been reported confiscated from Mont-Royal and Parc avenues.

Fabio was unsure whether there was a fine, but said confiscated bicycles can be reclaimed at the pound.

According to McGill Bogdan Smarandache, U1 history, who repaired bikes over the summer at the Cycle Pop bike and repair shop on Rachel, the municipal legislation on locking bikes to trees is typical of the city’s negligence toward bicyclists.

“I do think it’s part of a bigger picture,” he said. “I think the reason that a lot of people are locking their bikes to trees is because there aren’t enough bike racks, or proper designs for bike racks.”

The city recognized the lack of parking spaces for bikes, and pledged to convert 10,000 parking metres into bike racks in the coming years. Whenever the city expands or creates new bike paths, additional spaces to lock bikes must be installed.

Another bicyclist in the Plateau, Harrison Wood, a second year McGill student who bikes in the Plateau area, said he felt enforcing the rule was unnecessary.

“I’ve locked my bike to a lot of trees,” Wood said. “Trees can take a lot, and it seems like the most of the ways that you could find to lock your tree to a bike couldn’t hurt it a lot. From that perspective it seems like a petty measure.”

While Fabio asserted that the rule is publicized and that inspectors are not required to post notices when a bike is confiscated, both student bicyclists were unaware of the rule.