Laval mulls banning right on red

Plans to double bike, pedestrian travel on Île Jésus
By Robert Frank

Laval is considering joining Montreal and Manhattan as a metropolis that forbids motorists from turning right on a red light—at least on a limited basis.

The prohibition is part of the city’s plan to double the number of people who rely solely on muscle power to get around, Mayor Alexandre Duplessis disclosed during a news conference, March 28.

“Laval has reached a point in its growth where motor vehicles can no longer be the sole urban transit solution,” said the mayor.

The city initially plans to prohibit right turns on a red light at intersections located near metro stations, bus terminals and commuter train stations as well as at intersections with bike paths.

Mayor Duplessis announced that Laval intends to build 230 kilometres of new bike paths, to add to the city’s existing 175 km network of bike lanes, paths and shared roadway.

“We want to promote a lifestyle that offers a better balance between motorized and active transportation,” Mayor Duplessis emphasized. “It’s a first step toward a healthier lifestyle and cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”

In 2011, his predecessor, Gilles Vaillancourt, committed Laval to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent per citizen.

The city also wants to encourage exercise. According to Laval’s health and social services authority, “nearly half of Laval residents age 18 and over (49 per cent) are overweight.”

Although an Agence métropolitain de transport survey revealed that the city saw a modest drop in car use to 85 per cent, most of the shift in commuters reflected a shift to public transit. Thanks to a series of Société de transport de Laval (STL) modernization initiatives, bus transport increased 43 percent during the past decade and now carries more than 10 per cent of the population. Pedestrian and cyclist traffic dropped more than four percent, though, during the same period, and favoured by only six percent of Lavalois.

Other proposed measures include introducing bike lanes and sidewalks on bridges to Laval, adding more pedestrian signal lights and audible warnings for the blind at intersections, introducing traffic calming measures, lowering the municipal speed limit to 40 km/h, bolting bike carriers onto STL buses, adding bike racks at metro and train stations and in public places, and possibly turning Jacques Tétrault street into a pedestrian mall.

Another goal is to get more children to walk to school. At the moment, protective parents are shuttling their kids around by car in record numbers, the city said.

“Not only do elementary school students walk less and less to and from school, those who do walk are traveling ever shorter distances,” the city’s study concluded.

During the past year, Laval police have launched several safety campaigns aimed at pedestrians and motorists, in order to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries resulting from accidents at city intersections. They have also equipped patrol cars with Doppler radar, to stem egregious speeding on residential streets.

Laval has published its plan on the city Internet site. Residents can view the entire document by visiting and clicking the active mobility plan link.

Throughout April, it has invited citizens to comment on the proposals. They can do so online, by e-mail, or in person at kiosks that the city will set up in public places. To encourage participants, the city has promised those who provide feedback that they will be eligible to win one of two, $1,000 bikes, or a year’s worth of STL bus passes.

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