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Un article intéressant de la Gazette (que je trouve d'ailleurs riche en contenue local, architectural et urbanistique).

 

L'urbaniste et architecte danois Jan Gelh y va de quelques propositions intéressantes (qui feront plus plaisir à Étienne qu'à Malek, je soupçonne... :stirthepot: ), que je partage tout à fait. Je les ai mises en gras.

 

 

Green Life Column: Put cyclists in the driver's seat

 

A city that does everything it can to invite people to walk or bicycle is vibrant, healthy and more sustainable - and yes, we can do that here

By Michelle Lalonde, The Gazette

 

The key to making Montreal a more economically vibrant, healthy, safe and attractive city is for city planners and politicians to focus on making it "irresistible" for people to get out of their cars and onto bicycles, public transit and their own two feet. That is the view of Jan Gehl, a world-renowned Danish architect and urban design consultant, who spoke recently to a packed lecture hall at McGill University about the importance of designing people-oriented, rather than car-oriented, cities.

 

"In a people-oriented city, we do everything we can to invite people to walk or bicycle as much as possible in the course of their daily doings," said Gehl, with careful emphasis on the word "invite."

 

Gehl comes from Copenhagen, a city where only 30 per cent of residents drive to work or school and 37 per cent cycle, 28 per cent take public transit, five per cent walk. The life work of Gehl has been to research and document the incremental changes that have brought about Copenhagen's transformation from a car-oriented city in the 1960s to one of the most bike-able cities in the world today. He has been hired by dozens of cities around the world, including Melbourne, Australia, and most recently, New York, to advise them on how to do what Copenhagen did (but faster).

 

City planners panicked back in the 1950s and '60s, Gehl says, when cars started to invade city streets. Traffic departments set about figuring out how to make cars move smoothly through cities and park easily, but forgot about all the other ways people might want to use public space.

 

"For 50 years, the purpose of the city has been to make the cars happy, when they are moving and when they are parked. We have done our planning as if there are no other important issues in the city," he said.

 

Back in 1966, around the time Amsterdam started introducing pedestrian streets, Gehl decided what was needed was meticulous study of how people use urban spaces. His research showed that measures to make people safer and happier on their feet or on two wheels improved the economy and the vibrancy of city life. For example, he was able to show that four times as many people come to Copenhagen's downtown now than 20 years ago, and that removing one parking space resulted in two well-used café seats, a measure of the vibrancy of the downtown core.

 

So how did Copenhagen do it? Yes, there were measures to discourage driving, such as a gradual reduction in parking spaces, about three per cent per year. But the main tactic, Gehl said, was just making the city a very pleasant place to be on foot or bicycle. Main streets were closed to car traffic. Sidewalk cafés sprouted everywhere. Multi-lane streets were reduced in width so that sidewalks could be widened, medians added and trees planted. A seamless network of bike paths was established, separated from the parked cars and sidewalks by curbs.

 

Special lights were installed at intersections, giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists. Bike routes were painted a brilliant blue at intersections to remind motorists to expect cyclists. And the cyclists came, in droves.

 

(To get an idea of what Copenhagen's streets are like now, check out a promotional music video made for the city of Copenhagen's bicycle department at http://vimeo.com/4208874.)

 

But surely none of this could possibly work in Montreal, naysayers will argue. What about Montreal's winters? And what about our love for driving fast and ignoring the rules of the road?

 

"I've never worked in a city where somebody didn't take me aside to say, 'Jan, this is all very nice, but here we have a specific culture, because of the climate (or whatever else) we have a car culture,' " Gehl said. But even in cities like Melbourne, which Gehl noted was exactly like most North American cities just a few years ago, big changes have been possible. With wider sidewalks, better street furniture and lighting, more shade trees, etc., that city was able to bump its downtown residential population from 1,000 to 10,000 residents in just over 10 years (1993 to 2004). Imagine what could happen to Old Montreal, or Griffintown, if Montreal followed Gehl's advice?

 

Gehl was in Montreal only for a few days, and at first, he was not impressed. "I had the feeling of a city that has stood mainly still for 30 years. At some point in the '60s or '70s, the parking lots were all laid out, and streets filled with traffic and the widths of the sidewalk were decided and they just kept it like that."

 

But after a closer look, Gehl had this to say: "The more I see of this city, the more I realize that much has been done. I have seen more cyclists here than any other city in North America."

 

Gehl was impressed with Montreal's bike routes, but said they should be between the sidewalks and the parking lanes, not next to moving traffic. The parked cars should protect the cyclists from moving traffic, he said, not the other way around. And Montreal's new Bixi short-term bike rental service is a good way to "get the bike culture rolling." But he said the city should make streets like The Main and Ste. Catherine two-directional, and remove a couple of lanes from larger streets to make room for medians, bike lanes, trees and wider sidewalks. Montreal seems to be moving in the right direction, Gehr said, but much more can be done. "We have to see the city as existing not to make cars happy, but to make people happy. The people in the cars can be happy, too; they just might not be able to drive so fast." And when they get out of their cars, he added, they could enjoy a more attractive, livelier, safer, healthier, more sustainable city.

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"I've never worked in a city where somebody didn't take me aside to say, 'Jan, this is all very nice, but here we have a specific culture, because of the climate (or whatever else) we have a car culture,' " Gehl said. But even in cities like Melbourne, which Gehl noted was exactly like most North American cities just a few years ago, big changes have been possible. With wider sidewalks, better street furniture and lighting, more shade trees, etc., that city was able to bump its downtown residential population from 1,000 to 10,000 residents in just over 10 years (1993 to 2004). Imagine what could happen to Old Montreal, or Griffintown, if Montreal followed Gehl's advice?

 

Obviously he avoided the question regarding our winters..which simply can not be ignored. 4-5 month out of the year, you can't use your bike...It's a fact..not some concept out of some book!

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We had visitors from Australia (Sydney) yesterday and they were saying that they never saw snow over there (25 years) and that the lowest it goes is around 3-5 degrees C at night in their "winter"... faaak I wish we had that kind of weather.

 

Copenhagen also have mild winters, this guy should maybe come back here at the end of January and update his opinion about the matter.

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Obviously he avoided the question regarding our winters..which simply can not be ignored. 4-5 month out of the year, you can't use your bike...It's a fact..not some concept out of some book!

 

As someone who has biked year-round and through some of the roughest winters in recent years, I beg to differ.

 

With proper equipment it's possible. I biked back from Sorel during a 30cm snow storm. It took me 8 hours, twice the normal time, but it certainly wasn't impossible. Takes good thick tires and a sturdy bike, good balance and good "bike sense".

 

I realize that most people won't go to such lengths to get around on bike during the winter, and your overall point that cycling in winter isn't practical is true, and i agree with you on that --

 

but to say that it isn't possible and that's a fact isn't entirely correct either.

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ouais et ton oncle de 60 ans va faire la même chose?

 

On le sait très bien qu'il y a rien d'impossible pour une personne, mais pour les masses?

 

mais tu as fais ça par dépit et non par habitude.

 

C'est ce que l'urbaniste prétend, que l'habitude va s'installer... ouais me semble.

 

Et réduire la largeur des grands boulevards, ouais lesquelles? il reste juste rené-lévesque qui est digne de se nom, et même là l'hiver, c'est pas évident, le 3 voies deviennent une voie et demi ;)

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As someone who has biked year-round and through some of the roughest winters in recent years, I beg to differ.

 

With proper equipment it's possible. I biked back from Sorel during a 30cm snow storm. It took me 8 hours, twice the normal time, but it certainly wasn't impossible. Takes good thick tires and a sturdy bike, good balance and good "bike sense".

 

I realize that most people won't go to such lengths to get around on bike during the winter, and your overall point that cycling in winter isn't practical is true, and i agree with you on that --

 

but to say that it isn't possible and that's a fact isn't entirely correct either.

 

Dude, you are a 20-something year old guy in the PRIME of his life. Ask a 50 year old to do the same thing!! I doubt he'll take you very seriously.

 

Ask someone to bike 10KM's everymorning to go to work and another 10KM to bike back home when it's -25 degrees. Not sure many people would JUMP on the occasion!;);)

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