Cycling, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, driving, History, Montreal, Nostalgia, Opinion, Public Transit

Road Configurations Then And Now

It’s a popular topic on local radio talk shows, especially as this is an election year in Montreal. Of course, I refer to street configurations. Our current mayor, one Valérie Plante, is at best not a fan of cars. At worst she is downright anti-car. Since her election four years ago she has overseen the disappearance of thousands, if not tens of thousands, of parking spots in the city.

As she seeks a second term her project to make downtown Montreal’s main commercial thoroughfare a pedestrian mall is well underway. With any luck she will be defeated in November and her destruction of downtown can be aborted.

However, pedestrian malls are far from the only new use of roads. Many streets in Montreal have been re-divided to include bicycle lanes. Perhaps the most notorious of these rejigged streets is rue St. Denis. In fact, the merchants association threatened to sue the city over the issue.

But the plan went ahead. A very popular north-south artery, that was already dealing with significant traffic woes, went from two lanes of vehicles in each direction with parking on both sides, to one lane of traffic in each direction with parking on both sides and one lane of bicycles in each direction. Parallel parking a car now causes traffic delays all up and down the street.

But, it is one thing to reconstruct streets to accommodate both types of vehicle, and quite another thing to retrofit existing streets.

There are cities around the world with successful interactions between driver and cyclists. Bicycle lanes are not unique to Montreal. But, it is one thing to reconstruct streets to accommodate both types of vehicle, and quite another thing to retrofit existing streets. In many of the world’s cycling meccas the streets have been configured in a way that bikes and cars never, or rarely, interact.

Mind you, our current day politicians did not create ridiculous roadway layouts. In the photo above, my grandparents stand on the street where I live. They are going to, or coming from, an Armistice Day (now Remembrance Day), ceremony. It is believed it was taken sometime during the second world war, while their son, my uncle , was overseas. But the thing I want to point out is in the background. Not a bicycle lane, but fully grown trees smack in the middle of the street!

By the time I came to be, those trees had long been removed, yet I recall people talking about them. I hope they were taken down intentionally, and not felled by an unsuspecting motorist turning the corner to find a large tree in the street. Bicycles or trees, streets should be left to cars and trucks.

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Canada, DCMontreal Commentary, DCMontreal Light, Health, Humor, Montreal, Opinion, Politics, Westmount

Garbage: Public And Private

The city in which I have lived all of my nearly sixty-one years decided to undertake a war on garbage. A very noble cause indeed. But I must admit there is also a bit of confusion in the signs that have been posted on many if not all trash cans.

The sign on the left clearly indicates the potential fine for littering, and informs citizens that there are plenty of garbage cans in the area. The message is simple and well put: if this can is full, there are others nearby.

If I produce litter while out (perhaps I remove the wrapper from a chocolate bar), must I hold on to it until I get home? Or can I place it in a public can?

But the sign on the left tells folks that private waste should not be put in public bins. I did not realize that there was a great difference between private and public waste. I believe that if I put my private garbage in a public trash receptacle the city will empty said can. Whereas if I keep my private trash and put it out front of my house on a Tuesday or Friday, the city will also empty it. Hmmm….

If I produce litter while out (perhaps I remove the wrapper from a chocolate bar), must I hold on to it until I get home? Or can I place it in a public can? The fines are significant so I don’t want to get nailed. If I leave home and find Kleenex in my pocket can I get rid of it in a public can?

NYC 1970s Sign

The first time I went to New York City was in 1977. It was the ‘old New York’, dirty, gritty and perhaps a little dangerous. One of the many things that struck me was the severe tone of the anti-litter signs. No soft selling, no politesse, just an in your face message.

While I appreciate my city’s gentler approach, I think the notion of private and public garbage is just a wee bit odd. It all ends up in the same place!

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Shock Advertising And Cyclists In The 1940s

Greenhouse_Plane_1941

The photograph above was taken in 1941. The location is just up the street from where I live. At first glance it looks pretty sinister: a Nazi plane has apparently just crashed nose-first into a public park.

In the tree is a parachute, evidently, the pilot was able to eject and his whereabouts are not provided in the photo. Thankfully no one was injured, the street being a busy thoroughfare and the park is always crowded. The Conservatory sign remains standing, imagine if the plane had crashed through all those windows in the greenhouse.

It would seem that in the 1940s cyclists knew that their vehicles had no place on sidewalks or in parks

By the casual appearance of those examining the crash, it must have happened some hours or days earlier.

Actually, truth be told, there was no crash. No one was injured, or worse. The plane and parachute were placed on Sherbrooke Street in Westmount as a reminder to passersby to buy War Bonds to help the war effort. Failure to do so may result in this sort of thing becoming a reality.

Shock advertising in its infancy.

For me, the truly shocking element of the photo is the bicycle properly parked by the roadside. It would seem that in the 1940s cyclists knew that their vehicles had no place on sidewalks or in parks – even those where a plane had evidently crashed.

WestBike

I suspect that a similar shot taken today would show the cyclist still on his or her bike, having ridden it on the sidewalk and into the park.

Fortunately, pedestrians walking on Sherbrooke Street today don’t have to worry about the possibility of being struck by a Nazi plane crashing from the sky. Sadly, they do now have to be vigilant at all times for scofflaw cyclists on sidewalks and in parks.

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The Time For Truck Sideguards Is Now

jeannette_hol

Jeannette Holman Price shows sidegurad to Alan DeSousa a city councillor from Montreal and borough mayor of Saint-Laurent,

Early on the evening on Monday, December 19, 2005 I was waiting for my then-girlfriend-now-wife to arrive for supper. I decided to dash across the street to a little convenience store, probably for beer. As I walked out of my apartment building I noticed an unusually high volume of traffic, even for rush-hour, streaming down my street. I soon realized that vehicles were being rerouted down my street.

jessica_holLooking up the street through the park, the dark sky appeared to be somewhat of an eerie aurora borealis as an inordinate number of emergency vehicles, with flashing red and blue, and several yellow lights lit up the neighbourhood, clearly indicating something was very wrong.

Being curious I altered my direction and walked up through the park to get an idea of what had happened. Nearing the street that borders the park it was evident there had been an accident. Not a fender-bender sort of affair that is more annoyance that danger, but something major.  It was only later that I would learn of the tragedy of Jessica Holman-Price who in the process of saving her little brother from slipping under a snow removal truck lost her footing and fell to her death under the large vehicle herself.

Nonsense; it is unacceptable for governments to pass the buck up or down the ladder. All vehicles that can be fitted with sideguards should be altered, regardless of which level of government decrees what.

Now eleven years later her mother Jeannette Holman-Price, still grieves, but also is taking action. Jessica’s death was preventable; the installation of sideguards on heavy trucks would essentially remove the possibility of anyone slipping under them. To that end she has initiated The Jessica Campaign in an effort to avert any future accidents. The city of Westmount, where the accident occurred, has equipped its trucks with sideguards, but many contractors and the city of Montreal are more reluctant. According to Jeannette they prefer to wait for the province to make sideguards mandatory before requiring snow removal contractors to have them in order to be eligible to bid on city contracts.

Nonsense; it is unacceptable for governments to pass the buck up or down the ladder. All vehicles that can be fitted with sideguards should be altered, regardless of which level of government decrees what. The time for sideguards is now, if not eleven years ago.

Further: Mother of snow removal accident victim wins in court

 

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Abandoned Scooter Survives Snow Removal

scooter

Yesterday was the day after the first significant snowfall of the year. That means yesterday was the first snow removal day of the year. As I understand it, the city must give folks 12 hours advance notice regarding no parking restrictions. So if your street is to be cleared between 7:00 am and 7:00 pm they must put up the signs by 7:00 pm the night before. I can attest that when I arrived home at 5:15 pm on Monday evening the signs were duly positioned, a full 14 hours in advance.

…  towing contractor refused to take it on grounds that it was already broken and may withstand more damage during the removal process.

This poses no problem for us as my wife leaves for work before seven o’clock anyway, but it would seem that after a few months of summer, many people forgot about the whole car-towing for snow removal concept. In talking with one city employee he told me that on one street alone a total of 15 cars had to be towed away. This greatly slows down the entire process of removing the snow.

no_parkOne of the ironies however is that across the street from my place there has been a scooter parked for a least a month. It causes more trouble that a small vehicle should as people are afraid to park too close to it lest it get knocked over and bang their car. One little scooter is affecting two parking spots! Well I thought this would be remedied by removing the scooter to allow for snow clearance. But I was wrong.

There were two cars on my street that had to be towed away, but when it came to the little scooter the towing contractor refused to take it on grounds that it was already broken and may withstand more damage during the removal process. He was concerned that he would face any ramifications should the owner ever emerge.

So now the scooter is packed in with snow and is still causing much annoyance to locals seeking parking.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Quebec Rules Landlord Can Change Locks on Airbnb Unit

Time was if you were nosy and wanted to get a peek inside your neighbors’ homes you had to resort to some kind of trickery. Collecting for charity, or distributing election bumf afforded snoops an opportunity to have a scan of the premises and furnishing. Now all you have to do is look up Airbnb listings and voila there are pictures and descriptions of available rentals in your area.

… there have been days when I thought a revolving door would be appropriate

My apartment building, described by one happy guest as “pseudo-Gothic/Victorian”, has seen a lot of traffic this summer; folks popping in and out. There is always some tenant turnover in July, but there have been days when I thought a revolving door would be appropriate. So far there have been no problems with noise or damage, although there was one incident of a smoke detector going off that seemed to completely baffle the ‘guests’.

However entrepreneurs in my building and others may be about to have their business altered.According to a CBC report, “Quebec’s rental board has ruled a Verdun landlord has the right to change the locks on a tenant to stop him from renting out his apartment every night, in a decision that could have consequences for other Airbnb users in the province”.The court ruled in favor of the landlord who was having his unit rented out at a premium to what he was getting in rent. The rent is strictly controlled in Quebec whereas the Airbnb rates are not.

Now before you go thinking I’m going to rat out my neighbours and call our landlord forget about it. Unless of course a rowdy group of guests arrives in which case all bets are off.

Like the Uber Taxi situation, Airbnb attracts people (drivers and hosts) to make money without a concern for systems already in place. Like legitimate taxi drivers (i.e. those who have paid the significant taxi registration fee) facing Uber, landlords are/were being short-changed by Airbnb.

I have heard tales of people renting several units in various buildings solely for the purpose of renting them out via Airbnb.

Now before you go thinking I’m going to rat out my neighbours and call our landlord forget about it. Unless of course a rowdy group of guests arrives in which case all bets are off.

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Checkers: Harbinger of Summer

I have lived all of my 56 years on a street that borders a lovely park. On average I would imagine I have visited the park at least once a day. It plays a major role in my life. Smack in the centre of the park is a game area. After a couple of decades of disrepair it seems some signs of life have emerged.

As a boy a sure sign of the arrival of summer was the appearance of a green shack in the game area. This small wooden hut housed the equipment used in the various games. Horseshoes for tossing on the four sand-filled pits, shuffleboard discs and cue-sticks, large checkers made of wood, both red and black and the hooks used to move them on the big boards that were inlaid in the concrete.

CheckerTable

There was a time when the pleasant summer evenings provided a perfect background for older men to engage in a ‘serious’ game of checkers. I never realized that there are competitive checker players, but now understand that several ‘ranked’ players played in the park. I met a man recently who used to play checkers in the park, but now laments the lack of players, claiming the Internet has killed the game.

An old checker board

An old checker board

The game area also provided a summer job for a local student. This person was responsible for maintaining the game equipment, cutting the peripheral grass and generally keeping the area clean. But their first job of the summer was to repaint the shuffleboard courts. Tape and a steady hand were required to redo the lines and numbers that had been lost to the snow over the long winter.

PingPong

I was pleased to notice as I was passing through the park yesterday that a new ‘checker table’ and chairs have been installed, as was as a heavy-duty ping-pong table (table tennis if you must). It is not quite what it once was, but then what is. Any new players will have to provide their own checkers, and the ping-pong table is on what used to be the shuffleboard courts, but it is still nice to see some life in the old game area.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

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The Tree is Gone, But Not Entirely

Tree3

I have lived on the same street for 53 of my fifty-six years. The house, we called it a flat in those days, in which I spent the first nineteen years of my life is a mere stone’s throw up the street from where I now live. It is a long, narrow unit, with halls perfect for playing ball hockey during inclement Montreal winters. On the small front lawn stood a tree; yesterday they cut down the tree. Childhood memories remain  

Tree

My father, me and the tree

The tree, like most of those found on front lawns, belonged to the city. Those in backyards are the responsibility of the homeowner while the city maintains those in front. This includes annual pruning of dead branches and when necessary the take-down of a diseased tree. The tree was sick and therefore a danger. Better to remove it than to have it snap in a strong wind and cause damage to cars and buildings, or injury to people.

Tree2

I knew the tree was slated for removal as it had sadly borne the orange spray paint marking for several weeks. Dead tree walking. When I noticed the no-parking signs being placed in front of the tree yesterday morning I knew it was time. The next day would be D-Day or Tree Day. But no.

Returning home yesterday afternoon I came upon a street full of tree removal workers and equipment causing havoc for parents trying to pick-up kids from the school across the street. Yep, the tree was coming down. I sauntered up the street to where two members of the tree removal squad were standing. I explained to them the significance of the tree on the lawn of my birthplace (actually I was born in the hospital). While one of the two went back to work, I  had a little chat with the other who confirmed that the tree was beyond saving and had become a danger. A few moments later, as I stood watching the take-down process, one that has always interested me, the other fellow returned with three slices of the tree for me.

The author with his tree slices

The author with his tree slices

I was moved that he appreciated how trees, given their longevity, can become life markers. He also assured me a new tree will be planted in the same place. With this knowledge, and my tree slices, I felt much better.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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March Still a Lion in Montreal

Let’s hope this is Old Man Winter’s last kick at the can!

Snow_1Snow_2Snow_3Snow_4

 

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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Car 1 – Tree 0

Recently a tree was cut down to facilitate parking in my neighborhood. I understand the removal of rotting and therefore dangerous trees, but an apparently healthy tree is another matter.

Tree_1 Tree_2 Tree_3

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+
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