An active transport link inaccessible in winter.
After many demonstrations (the last one was February 10) and petitions, the Jacques Cartier Bridge multifunctional path remains closed in the winter, creating frustrations among active transportation enthusiasts (cyclists, runners and walkers). For all kinds of pretexts, the Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated Society (JCCBI) refuses to make it accessible. A situation that has lasted for 25 years. Several times during winter, the Jacques-Cartier Bridge Pedestrians and Cyclists Association publishes short videos and photos on its Facebook page that illustrate how, most of the time, the sidewalk on the west side of the bridge is passable without snow or ice.
However, the JCCBI, which manages the Jacques Cartier, Champlain, Mercier bridges and Melocheville tunnel, has insisted on keeping it closed. After conducting a snow removal pilot project during the winter of 2017-2018, the company concluded that they could not allow the safe operation of the path.
There are several reasons: risk of ice falling from the superstructure, long and steep slopes, sharp turns, possibility of black ice formation, etc. "This decision is not an end in itself and we will continue to work on finding solutions," said Catherine Tremblay of JCCBI in a statement released last October. For years, the path has been closed almost four months a year. The fight for opening f the path was started more than 10 years ago, in 2008. Like a few other four-season cyclists, Francis Casaubon, a resident of Longueuil, crossed the barrier to come to Montreal by bike in the winter. Finding this situation insane, he decided with another person in 2008 to undertake a battle to force the JCCBI to open this link in winter. He organized two "shovel-ins" in 2008 and 2009, and in 2009 he circulated a petition which gathered 10,000 names. He meets JCCBI and even gets the support of a few politicians, including a Bloc Québécois member. Nothing works. The bridge path remains closed.
Even in winter, the bridge's multifunctional path remains practicable and frequented by cyclists and runners. photo credit: Mario Grenier
Active transportation users are thus deprived of a vital link that allows them to cross the river for nearly four months, from Valleyfield to Quebec City. While the authorities claim to want to promote this healthy and non-polluting form of transportation, it's absurd to note that there is still no way to cross the river over such a long distance.
Mike Muchnik, spokesman for the Pedestrians and Cyclists Association, estimates that it deprives around 400 people per day who would like to use it (that is 10% of the 4,000 daily users when the path is open).
For those who use it anyway by crossing the fence, there is a risk of fines ranging from $48 to $128. "This year, the JCCBI seems to have ordered the Sûreté du Québec to give more," says Muchnik, who knows several cyclists who got them (mostly $48 fines).
A dry and feasible path most of the time
However, "several days per winter, the path is dry and the snow that accumulates there after snowfalls melts very quickly," says Mr. Muchnik. According to him, 85% of the time, the path is clear and the probability of ice fall is minimal, that is one in 1,600.
The way the bridge is plowed does not help the situation. On an association video, we can see the snowplow pass and project white and brown snow on the multifunctional path and also in the river.
According to Mike Muchnik, there may be hope that things will move. "There may soon be a new president and director at JCCBI who will be more open to active transportation. " To be continued…
Sign the petition requesting the opening of the Jacques Cartier Bridge multifunctional path year-round.
Photo credit at the top of the text: François Démontagne.
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