A little over a month ago, I noticed a post at Berri-UQAM.ca with the title “pas de bicyclette à Westmount?” – two pictures without commentary suggesting that bicycles had been completely banned from the city.
I decided to take a look for myself. The pictures looked like they might have been taken near Summit Park, so I headed up there with my camera (“up” being the operative word, it’s quite a hike from the bus stop on Côte des Neiges). Sure enough, at the corner of Summit Circle and Oakland Avenue, a small “no bicycles” sign.
I couldn’t quite make out its intent. Is cycling banned on Summit Circle? If so, why? And why aren’t there other signs saying that? Was it put up in error?
A bit down the street, I spotted another, similar sign:
Being one of those curious journalist-y types, I emailed the city of Westmount asking what this was all about. After a few days, and with a standard template for answering citizens’ questions, this email reached my inbox:
In reference to your question, the “no bicycle” sign is not meant for Summit Circle but only for the Jogging path along Summit Circle. The Jogging Path begins at the corner of Oakland and Summit Circle.
I hope that this information is helpful.
The jogging path is that dirt path you see in the second and third photos. It runs along Summit Circle on the north side of the park.
Though it makes sense to ban bikes from this narrow pedestrian path, the signage isn’t at all clear. No words, not even an arrow pointing to the path to give some indication where exactly the bicycles are forbidden. A cyclist passing by there would only look on in confusion, and perhaps go away with the impression that the summit neighbourhood of Westmount is filled with rich, bicycle-hating luxury SUV drivers who want to exclude those who don’t fit on their better-than-thou pedestal.
Because that impression would be false, right?
Ah yes, signage Westmount. A few years ago I received a number of parking tickets in Westmount due to non-standard and/or missing signage in the area. After the first ticket I actually called the city to tell them that they were missing a sign. Their response: there has not been a sign at that particular location for at least ten years now and furthermore it is my responsibility to check the signs in BOTH directions when parking a car. A week later I did check the signs in both directions and yet I got another ticket because they had placed “Resident only” signs (in English only) near the houses without indicating anything on the official signs!
Needless to say both tickets were thrown out of Montreal Parking court within minutes, and the judge agreed with me that their signage was completely ridiculous (I had photographic proof). As far as I know, nothing much has changed. Westmount does their own thing, and they are often very zealous in the application of the not very clear rules.
I find it quite surprising that the tickets were thrown out in court. When you get a ticket, it is in application of the Law, which sits in some official ledger somewhere in City Hall after it has been approved through the necessary legal channels. The signs by the streetside are merely a reflection of the law to inform the public what is the actual law.
However, since ignorance of the law is not a defence for violating the said law, the absence of suitable signage does not invalidates the law, which still fully applies in that case; hence the great success of speed-trap cities who hide a speed limit sign with a truck in order to ticket unsuspecting motorists. The absence of proper signage in Westmount falls under the same category.
(Whoops, I forgot…) The absence of french on the signs also do not invalidate the law (despite how much I love law 101). However, the absence of french on a ticket will invalidate the ticket, given the constitutional guarantee that justice must be administered in french or english.
I see that you too have been contesting some tickets yourself! It certainly is true that “ignorance of the law is not a defense for violating the law” but there are also limits to what it is reasonable to expect a citizen to know. In my particular case, there were numerous parking signs indicating all sorts of restrictions, but the sign which indicated the hours of the street-cleaning was not on the particular sign post I was looking at. How is a reasonable person supposed to know that *one* sign is missing on that post? And similarly for the second case – if there are different parking rules in application, the original signs should be covered.
What do you expect from a town where people can’t figure out how to cross on the green hand (see Sherbrooke/Claremont), that put giant cement blocks in the bicycle path so that pedestrians could walk on it in Westmount Park, and that closes down the bike lane (in front of a parking garage) to facilitate street parking in the fall (Atwater/Maisonneuve)?
You might want to put your investigative journalism skills to task at the bike path at Concordia University. Does Concordia hate bicycles? I think so.
1) Why can’t people figure out that it is a bike path? This should be part of the entrance exams for Concordia… Question: When standing in a bike lane what do you do? Response: Get the FECK out of it!
2) Why the heck has that area been under construction for ever and no one can come up with a system that doesn’t result in people walking on the bike path?
3) Why aren’t cops standing there making mad $$$ by giving out several hundred jaywalking tickets a day? It’s public safety, but I guess they prefer to go to Dairy Queen to get ice cream.
4) Why isn’t Justin Trudeau volunteering to be the bicycle poster boy for Montreal? We need celebs… but I guess most of them are busy cutting us off in their limos on the way to save the world from climate change.
Watch TVA run with this (no pun) and make it another anti-Westmount story.
Of course it would be in WM’s interest to clarify the damn sign though coming up with a symbol to indicate “no bikes on the jogging path” would be a tough one. Also had you not indicated as much I would
not have known that small dirt lane was a jogging path o.O
Right. Westmounters are not a hundredth times douchebaggy as Mont-Royalers… (And Montréal-Ouesters).
At least Westmount doesn’t have a
Berlin Wallfence where the public security questions anyone who enters via one of its six gates.
Indeed. Here is what happenned to me this summer in Mont-Royal:
Maybe a sidewalk would remove the need to post those signs!
Once I saw the path beside the road I thought the no bicycle sign must be for that. Although wouldn’t it be safer for the cyclists to use the path so the SUV driving soccer moms wouldn’t run them over? I’m all for sharing the road but too many drivers think the road belongs to them.
semi-related- a few years ago, a friend’s ontario-plate car was broken into at oakland and summit circle by 2 cyclists. we both lost our purses and wallets, among other things. The non-westmounter, opportunist thieves no doubt went down the ridgewood way, through the forest at that intersection.
the no cyclist image on that very corner gave me a chuckle for sure!
How do you know it was two cyclists?
we saw them as we were leaving the car- I assumed I was in a safe neighborhood and didn’t think twice about them.
Using Trudeau would be counter-productive. Trudeau was elected by the immigrants, not the "pure laines". In fact, Trudeau is a dirty word in Québec; more than 25 years after he left power, Trudeau is widely despised and hated for his constitutionnal coup. You would know that if you were not utterly disconnected from Québec society.
Actually this is to deter mountain-bikers who get a little too happy when they spot some actual genuine single track – a rarity in Montreal. Of course westmount applies full buzzkill to the problem with that favorite bureaucratic remedy to all life’s problems: prohibition. Oh, and signs, they sure do love signs.
There are a lot of much nicer places to ride a bicycle than in Westmount. After all, why would the 1% want to put up with cyclists?
Westmount had a temporary bike path in 1970, of course the petition drive was for a permanent one.
There was another attempt in 79/80, taken down out of fear that someone would be hurt, the idea of a two-way path on one-way street being too new.
Sometime about 1990 it came back, and styed, fairly useless strip until Montreal got with the future and put a bike path on de Maisoneuve.
Westmount has also had door to door newspaper recycling since about 1980, initially a non-profit company doing it, then later complete recycling as a municipal task. Westmount was also one of the first island of Montreal municipalities to have door to door composting, eliminating one garbage pickup a week to do it.
Look, why would I want to ride my bike in Westmount, where in certain neighborhoods, multimillionaires, if not billionaires, live in their multi-million dollar mansions? I have no affinity for the 1%, nor do I want to be seen by them, or have anything to do with them.
The social and economic injustices perpetuated by them, over the centuries, are unforgivable.
I like riding my bicycle, and organizing rides for my cycling club, in the beautiful countryside that surrounds greater Montreal, and I like to be in the presence of the folk that live there..