Concordia University announced on Aug. 30 that they will be adding 200 bicycle-rack parking spaces for the fall term. Hopefully, this will encourage more students to use their bikes to get to school rather than cars or public transit. However, more parking spaces cannot help the main deterrent for riding one’s bike to school—the terrible bike lanes.
Getting to both campuses by bike can be hazardous. Bike lanes end abruptly or are non-existent going towards the place you want to go. The streets are small, especially when cars are parked on both sides and one is constantly worried that an absent-minded driver will knock into them.
According to CAA Bike Safety, 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured every year in Canada. This does not include cyclists who sustain minor injuries such as bruises and broken bones.
Kay Teschke, who studies cycling in cities, told Maclean’s Science-ish blog, “The fatality rates are about the same for cyclists and pedestrians, though the numbers of pedestrians killed is much higher, because more people walk. Of course, the numbers of motor-vehicle fatalities is much higher than either cycling or walking.The safest mode of transport by far is transit—like buses or subways —there’s no question about it.”
Furthermore, Teschke pointed out that having protected bike lanes significantly reduces bike injuries, “One of the interesting features that has been found in North American cities where European-style separated bike lanes are being installed is that this is not only lowering cyclist crashes, but also pedestrian and motor vehicle crashes.”
There is a protected bike path along de Maisonneuve Boulevard which goes by the Hall, library, GM and MB buildings, but the problem is getting to de Maisonneuve Boulevard.
According to the bike path maps on both velomontreal.com and pedalmontreal.ca there are no protected bike paths or designated bike lanes leading to de Maisonneuve. This means that cyclists have to make their way to the protected bike path next to cars which is both dangerous and unhealthy, as it causes a greater inhalation of exhaust fumes.
It is the same for the Loyola campus. There are no designated bike lanes or protected bike paths on Sherbrooke Street. You can take de Maisonneuve Boulevard, which is parallel to Sherbrooke, but then once again you still need to get from de Maisonneuve to campus on streets without bike lanes or paths.
In order to avoid being too close to cars that may accidentally hit them or whose fumes they will inhale, some cyclists choose to use the sidewalks. Unfortunately, sidewalks are designed for pedestrians and therefore slow a cyclist’s travel time as well as bring inconvenience to pedestrians.
Concordia has a strong mandate of sustainability. In fact, just last week JMSB was recognized for having the second best green MBA program. Encouraging more students, faculty and staff to bike to school would be an excellent way to promote sustainability, but it is hard to sell biking as a mode of transportation when said mode of transportation is hazardous.