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The city wants to change some rules to ban scooters from bike paths but allow powered wheelchairs.
Frances, Kate, Chris, and 11 others are discussing. Toggle Comments
As a cyclist (and I guess as an insensitive bastard), I disagree with the city’s decision to allow power wheelchairs on bike paths. They’re too large, too heavy and move way too slowly for them to mesh smoothly with bicycle traffic. Will they start using the “bandes cyclables” along with vehicular traffic too? I don’t know, are the cracks in the sidewalk that annoying? Sorry.
I use my bicycle for about 95% of urban transportation. I do not think that there are so many powered wheelchairs in the city that this rare disturbance really makes an impact for cyclists.
Maybe put yourself for a day in the perspective of somebody who can not mount a single step, needs more space and is less flexible in manoeuvring than a pedestrian. As a matter of fact, where the bicycle is designed to go, the wheelchair follows easily.
I think they should be accommodated where possible, especially given that montreal is really not well accessible. the metro station conversion will take another 100 years at the current pace. sidewalks blocked (moving trucks, construction sites, …).
I see no reason why powered wheelchairs should not be allowed. Many cyclists ride too fast anyway. They are particularly unnerving on the central city paths. I think there should be a limit of 20kph (enforced) although I hope the wheelchairs do not feel obliged to speed up
I think the biggest annoyance on Montreal bike paths are actually vehicles that have zero business there in the first place. By that, I mean constructions crews that park their equipment in the bike path (to avoid blocking the all important cars), cars blocking the path at intersections, taxis waiting for customers, garbage cans, etc. Enforcement would be great, but even the cops have a habit of parking their cars on the bike path near Lionel-Groulx.
On the subject of speed limits, I don’t think putting an unrealistic speed limit of 20 kph and hoping it will be enforced will do much. I ride slow bikes (bixi) when I commute to work and I ride a fast bike in the evening or on the weekend. And in both cases, I’m just as likely to ride on de Maisonneuve bike path. When I’m slow, I stick to the right and I expect other cyclists to pass me. When I’m fast, I have to swerve through bikes because many cyclists treat bike paths as if they were parks. About 15-20 years ago, the city of Montreal finally realized that not all cyclists are kids and not all bikes are toys. Some bike paths are for utility (like de Maisonneuve street) and some are for pleasure (like Parc de Maisonneuve).
A speed limit that is too low (and strictly enforced) will just drive many cyclists out of the bike paths and back onto the streets, defeating the purpose of the bike paths in the first place.
As far as the electric scooter (not the wheelchairs), I say good riddance. Way too big and too fast for bike paths.
Clement: you’re absolutely right on motorized vehicles (parked, or even driving through) being the biggest annoyance.
a speed limit on bicycle paths is pretty useless, given that it is quite hard to accelerate to 30km/h anyway, with all these stops and dangers from potholes, carelessly crossing pedestrians, cars ruthlessly cutting in intersections etc.
that is actually a good example of a traffic path which auto-regulates its speed by design. in vienna there are many narrow (mostly because of parking cars) streets where drivers stay well under the 30km/h limit, because it just feels too much of a hazard at that speed(!)
Why did we spend millions making sidewalks wheelchair friendly? The motorized wheelchairs are brutal on the bike paths, especially when they don’t signal rolling into the dep for smokes.
A wheelchair in your way on a bike path can be a drag and a groan but there really aren’t enough of them around for it to ever become a serious problem. I’d rather, as a biker, circle around a wheelchair than see a wheelchair rider constantly circle around pedestrians on the sidewalk. Must be infuriating haha
As a pedestrian, I’m pretty anti-bicyclist but I have to agree that wheelchairs don’t belong on the bike paths, powered or otherwise. They are called bike paths for a reason. As others have mentioned here, millions were spent making the sidewalks wheelchair friendly.
As for the people saying “there aren’t that many of them so whocares?”. They are coming. The population is getting older and these scooters are getting cheaper all the time. They are a menace in Florida where you have to be as cautious walking around the inside of a Walmart as you do walking on the street to avoid being rundown.
I took this photo in the Gay Village last weekend.
Laws that aren’t enforced are meaningless. There have been a ton of cops on Park for months what with the roadwork – I haven’t seen a single sidewalk bicyclist even get yelled at by the cops, let alone ticketed, and I see sidewalk bicyclists almost every single day on the very busy sidewalk between Saint-Joseph and Saint-Viateur. For instance, this weekend, one bicyclist had the nerve to ring his bell at me and tell me to get out of his way – I was pushing a stroller FFS. Don’t even get me started on motorists that ignore crosswalks, block the intersection at light changes, and blow red lights – apparently with impunity. We already have lots of traffic safety laws in Montreal but unless the police actually start ticketing people it’s so many words, nothing more.
Forgot we can’t post photos in comments here.. Here is a link http://flic.kr/p/cp3Sid
Cyclists like me have been using the wheelchair ramps on street corners for decades, so it’s only fair that wheelchairs get to use bike paths.
Yeah, I guess you’re right, Stefan. Everyone is right in their own way. If no rules are actively enforced, what’s the point anyway? How many times have I seen irresponsible cycling around town? Maybe we should be thankful for having cycling lanes in the first place.
As I understand it, the changes about the paths are meant to help cyclists maintain a reasonably consistent speed and move things off the paths that pose hazards. Getting those scooters off the paths is a smart move – they’re just not bicycles, they handle momentum and speed very differently and there’s no reason they should share bike paths.
I never like sharing a path with skateboarders or skaters because they’re kind of chaotic. A fast skater side-to-sides enough that they can use up both lanes on a bike path. I’ve even seen a couple skating side by side. On the other hand, skateboarders traditionally face a lot of urban resistance so I’m not 100% with being “get off my lawn” about them. But they’re banished too.
Anyone know whether crashes between cyclists are a factor? If you allow slow-moving wheelchairs on the paths, you create a situation where cyclists will be deking around them to keep up a reasonable speed, putting themselves into hazard either with other oncoming cyclists or with motorized traffic. In fact I don’t think wheelchairs belong on the paths at all, but I don’t think the city wants the PR hit it will get if they banish them.
in your pic the scooters are empty, so that’s not really in the same category as a wheelchair, whose rider cannot leave it, no?
@Kate: I attended the hearings that led to these decisions last winter. You’re right, the only reason wheelchairs are allowed in the bike paths is that nobody was foolish enough to even suggest banning them.
As for crashes between cyclists, they exists, I have witnessed them (and been in one), but I believe they are rare and the worse that can happen when two cyclist crash into one another is a bent wheel, a broken derailleur and some road rash.
Crashes between cars and cyclists are more common and yield much more serious damage like paint scratched on the car, dent on the hood from the helmet impact, coffee spilled unto trousers and a dropped blackberry. Oh yeah, the cyclist dies too.
I’m always amazed by many cyclists’ belief that they are the only users of public space who should be entitled to unhindered movement.
When a car “hinders” a cyclist, it’s the cyclist who gets hurt. That’s kind of a pressing reason, William.
Disallowing scooters is not a *change*. They were disallowed before, some lobbied for them to be allowed, and they failed. Previously, only cyclists and rollerbladers were allowed, now wheelchairs are too.
Chris, I’m not sure that’s true. A couple years ago I shouted at a pair of people whizzing along on the Clark Street path on electric scooters. I shouted at them and they stopped and informed me, in no uncertain terms, that because they were electric they were allowed. I think there was some discussion about this here on the blog at the time too.
As a very experienced urban cyclist, my opinion: motorized wheelchairs (am tolerant); skateboards (don’t belong on bike paths); in-line skates (ditto); electric scooters (definitely ditto! — too fast and too large a vehicle).
By the way, in my experience on two-way bike paths, one of the biggest hazards to cyclists is other cyclists passing down the centre of the two lanes (i.e. passing on the orange line — whether broken or solid). A request to all cyclists: if you are unable or unwilling to move fully into the oncoming lane, you do not have enough space to pass safely. Choosing to pass too close to another cyclist (i.e. by riding in the centre) increases the chance of a collision between you and the cyclist you are passing and/or an oncoming cyclist. For example, if a cyclist unexpectedly diverges even slightly. I see this centre-riding frequently, and it’s very unnerving. Perhaps they are willing to take chances, but they ought to understand not everyone else appreciates those close manoeuvres. Collisions can result in broken bones and serious abrasions, not just a mild case of road rash and frazzled nerves.
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