The push to make the streets of Montreal safer for cyclists moved into high gear this past weekend with Vélo! Vélo!, an idea-sharing conference organized by the city that brought together bicycle enthusiasts, cooperatives, and bike shop operators from several Canadian cities.
Cycling in Montreal has become increasingly hazardous in the past few years. Last year, the number of serious accidents rose 22 per cent from the year before, according to La Presse – though even more bikes are on the road now with the Bixi system. The safety of the St. Urbain bike path also made major headlines after STM bus drivers petitioned their union and City Hall to improve it.
Vélo! Vélo! was attended by 19 groups from Montreal, Laval, Toronto, and Ottawa, including Right to Move/La Voie Libre at Concordia and The Flat at McGill. The conference included workshops on initiatives underway in several Canadian cities to alleviate the increasingly dangerous conditions facing urban bicyclists.
There was discussion of subjects such as the vulnerability of cyclists in urban centres. Other workshops offered knowledge sharing on topics such as setting up community bike shops and do-it-yourself bike repairs.
“As a result of the various cycling workshops this weekend, community bike shops, which make bikes more accessible to the public and promote safety, are much more likely to survive,” said Vélo! Vélo! organizer Bettina Grassman. “These kinds of things have a ripple effect.”