Letter from a friend in Montreal —
Hadn’t heard from you in a while John, and was noticing too no recent updates on your blog. I see now a recent one, so am sending this along. Hope you were having a good vacation.
This has been a summer of police repression against cyclists here in Montreal. Starting in April they set up many sting operations on the bike paths. Ticketing cyclists for blowing through red lights and stop signs is one thing, but they were doing rather more, or should I say different. One cyclist was standing with his bicycle (astride it I suppose) near a metro entrance. A cop came and told him to move along (I doubt that command was legal). As soon as he pedaled off, the cop gave him a ticket for riding on the sidewalk. People riding their Bixis [bike-share bicycles] to a dock on a sidewalk were given tickets for riding on the sidewalk. Then there were the reflector fines: tickets for not having six reflectors during the day, $37 for each missing reflector- including for no pedal reflectors on clipless pedals. Rather different from previous years, when they would hand out lights to cyclists on the bike paths at night.
A police spokesman said it best: “We want cyclists to be afraid.” So, instead of “to serve and protect”, the motto seems now to be “instill fear and harass”. I guess they got someone new on the job at a management level.
A website was set up to mark the locations of the traps, but it got hacked- I suspect by the police. A fellow who got a ticket for Idaho-stopping through a red light then got a $651 ticket for going back up a block and warning other cyclists of the sting.
This past Friday was the regular Critical Mass ride. I’ve never participated but I think now I might go by to photograph the next one- here’s the story of how it went down this time.
And here a story that’s just really outrageous. [The title is “Better city infrastructure could mean fewer cyclist injuries”. It describes a recent collision in which a cyclist swerved to avoid a car door and was critically injured in a collision with a bus. About that type of crash, please see my previous post — John Allen.]
I don’t expect any better from Morency, who was one of the co-authors of Lusk et al., [see review here: http://john-s-allen.com/reports/montreal-kary.htm] but I was disappointed in the Velo Quebec response.
I got lucky this year: I had to do a major overhaul of my bicycle, and have had it dragging on and on, having to shelve it again and again to wait for parts, or get busy with something else. I haven’t missed much as weather-wise it has been the worst summer for bicycling in years. However, I also missed a lot of reflector fines (although these days I only ride in daylight, I have lights in my bag if I ever get caught out at night). A beneficial side effect of all these police stings: people have been avoiding the bike paths more, because that’s where the traps are set.
Have a good summer.