Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Tomorrow There Will Be Grass, Not Cars on Saint Catherine Street

Tomorrow several blocks in the commercial centre of Montreal will be closed to vehicles from 9:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m., as part of the world-wide campaign to encourage active transport in cities. In the Montreal region, the Agence métroplitaine de transport is organizing the event: the suburban cities of Laval and Longueuil are also taking part.

I happened to be downtown last year during the celebrations. Long swaths of turf were spread down major streets and people picnicked on it. Of course, I’d taken the bus into the centre of the city as usual, and a few of us urban-dwellers watched and wondered aloud whether all this was necessary, given the high level of active-transport in the centre of the city.

But we are still in a minority, and anything that makes people who ordinarily take their cars reconsider is a good thing, I suppose. We should be careful not confuse this kind of once-a-year circus with real solutions to urban problems, though. That would be like thinking you’re making a real contribution to cutting down energy use when you switch to those funny light bulbs but still keep your furnace thermometer set high in winter and your airconditioning set low in summer.

For a look at an interesting way to increase carpooling, check out Covoiturage Montréal. It’s a way of linking drivers and riders through their postal codes (which in Canada are much more precise ways of localizing addresses than the US’s five figure codes.) The English link is found about half-way down the menu.

1 comment:

Craig Sauvé said...

Projet Montréal has plans to make Ste. Catherines pedestrian permanently. We will be at Phillips Square tomorrow at 11h00 celebrating no car day. Come on down!