Laval’s on-street bike lanes a headache for Val-des-Arbres residents

City is re-evaluating situation after complaints, says Councillor Christiane Yoakim

More than 65 people living on de Blois Blvd. in Val-des-Arbres have signed a petition demanding the City of Laval make serious modifications to a bicycle path that runs past their homes, creating dangerous traffic situations, as well as a sanitation problem, they claim.

Bike path complaint

“Since they have put the bicycle path and the cars are parked further away from our sidewalk, the city’s work crew has not been able to clean the full width of the street,” said de Blois resident Angie Simeone, noting that significant amounts of dead leaves and branches accumulate on the street next to the curb now because the street cleaner truck can’t reach them.

The painted lane wending its way past the homes on de Blois Blvd. is part of the vast network of bicycle paths implemented all over Laval in recent years as the city ramped up its efforts to improve its strategy for bike and pedestrian-friendly transportation.

Complaints not new

However, complaints regarding certain elements of Laval’s new transportation and traffic calming policies are not new. Among the measures that backfired on the administration in recent years were the infamous and (to many people) mysterious “blue lines” painted by the city on sidewalk curbs within a wide radius of schools, to alert drivers of the necessity to be on the lookout for children.

A water truck passes along de Blois Blvd. in Val-des-Arbres last week, illustrating residents’ complaint that the bike path is preventing the street from being cleaned thoroughly.

Following widespread objections to the blue line scheme several years ago, the Demers administration decided to cancel that part of the program. In addition to the street cleaning problem, the people on de Blois Blvd. complain that because of the extra space taken up by the bike lane, the recycling truck can no longer access their front driveways and yards to retrieve the recycling bins.

Backing out dangerous

The bike lane has been in place since late summer last year. At that time, according to Simeone, backing the car out of her home’s driveway started to become dangerous because bicyclists arriving along the bike path couldn’t be seen as they drove quickly by. The problem was made worse by inadequate street lighting, she added.

“As the days grow shorter towards the end of summer, the lighting is not adequate to see bicycles,” she said. “So when we are trying to get out of our driveway, we really have to look and have to go slowly. And then if there’s also cars parked, you have to be extra careful to be sure you’re not going to hit anybody. It’s very, very dangerous. And a total mess.”

The petition was presented to Mayor Marc Demers last October during a city council meeting. The petitioners are asking for the bike path in front of their homes to be removed, although they don’t mind that the path on the other side of the street remains in place.

Taking action, says Yoakim

In an interview with The Laval News, Val-des-Arbres city councillor Christiane Yoakim said she has heard the petitioners’ complaints and is now asking the administration to re-evaluate the situation in light of the residents’ experiences and observations.

Initially, however, she said she was not aware of anything especially dangerous along that particular stretch of the bike path. “From what I’ve seen, everything conforms, everything is secure,” she said, while noting that backing out from some driveways might present a hazard for drivers unaccustomed to oncoming bicycle traffic.

“But to date there don’t seem to be any major problems,” added Yoakim. “But now in the second year of this project, we have the intention of redoing a re-evaluation of the situation. We always do this in the second year of a project to make sure that everyone’s security has been taken into consideration.”