Quite interestingly, out of all the cities we visited I think that perhaps Montreal had transport aspects that Auckland can learn from more than any other place. Perhaps it was because New York is just so different from anywhere else, because Boston’s system is very old and we pretty much walked everywhere anyway, and because Washington DC’s system is just so unique in its design. Whatever it was, I certainly did feel as though I got the most transport ideas from Montreal.
For a start, Montreal was definitely the city which appeared to have done the most to encourage cycling – with those efforts seeming quite successful. Below are a number of photos showing Montreal’s cycling infrastructure:
This is the cycleway along Boulevard de Maisonneuve, one of the main east-west streets in Montreal. I quite like this sort of design for cycle lanes that will carry a high number of people. It’s worth noting that on-street parking on both sides of the road could potentially be retained with cycle lane designs like this.More cycle lanes, once again showing how it’s possible to provide both cycle lanes and on-street parking. I do like this design because the parked cars form a useful buffer between the cyclists and the moving vehicles – it would be a pretty safe place. It’s also worth noting the number of bikes chained up along the street – typical for Montreal.Bike racks like these are located everywhere around Montreal – particularly around the Metro stations. I forget the exact way the system works as I only briefly read about it and didn’t use them, but it seemed quite simple and also quite cheap for the first half-hour to an hour – getting progressively more expensive after that to ensure they get mainly used for short commuting trips.Montreal also has a growing number of “shared spaces”, as shown in this photograph (note the car driving and the pedestrian in the distance walking down the middle). It was amazing to see how the whole “feel” of the street changed when you went from a footpath-kerb-road setup to one where there’s only one street surface and everyone shares it. You immediately want to spring out to walk down the middle, the cars immediately slow down enormously and drive very carefully. Auckland has a lot to look forward to with our proposed shared streets. Of course I can’t ignore the Montreal Metro. This system was built relatively recently, first opened in 1966 and extended at various points since then. Now it is North America’s third busiest (after New York and Mexico City) rapid transit system – carrying over a million people a day. What I liked about the system was the spaciousness of the stations, the superb information provided about when the next train was coming and the high quality of the trains themselves. One unusual aspect of the Montreal Metro is that the whole system is run on rubber tires, rather than your usual steel tired train. This actually seems to have a number of advantages: the trains are quieter, the rides seem a bit smoother and I think the trains can deal with steeper slopes than is possible with typical steel tires. I must say I’m quite curious why more cities around the world haven’t gone down that path.Could Midtown Station look something like this one day?