Beautiful Laurentian bike ride through history on Ptit Train du Nord

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If you’re headed up north with bikes for the day, weekend or vacation you must already have heard of the Ptit Train du Nord recreation path that runs more than 200 kms from St. Jerome to Mont Laurier. Indeed, it is part of the Trans Canada Trail that spans the entire country. Our family has enjoyed the trail for years, choosing different segments most weekends. We used to pull the kids in a bike trailer till they finally managed two-wheelers on their own. What a fun family outing, sometimes lugging picnic lunches, other times stopping at the ice cream or sandwich shops along the way.

I had read about a newly paved section and decided to make that our Labour Day outing so we packed up the bikes and headed up the 117 to St. Faustin-Lac Carré.

The St. Faustin train station was built in 1893

The old train stations at each town are a delight to explore. Well preserved and exhibiting old photos of yesteryear, I can just imagine what it was like to take the voyage by train from Montreal, way up into the Laurentian Mountains. On today’s journey, I imagined my dad’s train ride to St. Faustin station in 1940. He vacationed in Lac Carré at Cantor’s Square Lake Inn, for just $15 a week!

Cantor’s Square Lake Inn, St. Faustin, Qc. Samuel Cantor, his wife Rachel, and brother Myer Cantor bought the Inn in 1935 and owned it together until the death of Myer in 1945. When Rachel died in 1961 the Inn was sold. It burned to the ground one year later, never to be rebuilt.

The St. Faustin-Lac Carré station is a meeting point in the town. The grounds are well groomed with outdoor artistic pieces, playground, a petoncle court and even a metal tree with heart shaped red locks with the names of lovers and their important dates (haven’t seen that since Paris). There is a lovely café and a couple of ice cream shops to suit your taste.

We decided to ride from St. Faustin to St. Jovite, aka Centre-Ville Mont Tremblant, a distance of 12.5 km. The asphalt was smooth as can be and most of the northbound ride was slightly sloped downhill so I enjoyed the breeze and sights without pondering the return uphill trip. In 30 just minutes we arrived at our destination. Along the way we saw beautiful views of the Riviere du Nord which hugs the trail much of its length.

There’s wildlife, farms, lovely old homes and places to stop and relax along the way. We saw butterflies and ducks on this trip. Previously we’ve seen deer.

I decided to explore and take pictures on the slower southbound climb. I hope you’ll enjoy my shots and come and see for yourself.

Many thanks to the good folks who maintain the Ptit Train du Nord and to their sponsors who provide the funding for this magnificent, free recreational gem.

Happy Cycling!

Lovely old Quebec homesteads to see along the Ptit Train du Nord
Riviere du nord, as scene from the Ptit Train du Nord, St. Faustin – Lac Carré
Beautiful colours and gorgeous homes along the bike trail
The views while cycling along the Ptit Train du Nord
Judy and Barry enjoying the warm breeze on the trail
Lovers locks in St. Faustin – Lac Carré
The Millette farm, passed down through the generations
Famille Millette farm equipment preserved for younger generations to explore
Old dam wheel to control water levels along the Riviere du Nord
Plenty of distraction for the little ones along the trail
Barry studying all the trail options in the Tremblant area
Step down into Lac Carré

Cyclists join high-vis POLITE force to be seen by motorists

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POLITE bike vest London Evening Standard

LONDON EVENING STANDARD

ROSS LYDALL, CHIEF NEWS CORRESPONDENT

Published: 11 April 2013

Cyclists in London are buying high-visibility clothing that looks similar to a police uniform to get motorists to give them more space and time.

The luminous yellow bibs have a blue-and-white reflective “hatched” border and are embossed with a message “POLITE notice THINK BIKE”.

But the makers admit that the word “POLITE” looks similar to “POLICE”.

Nicky Fletcher, managing director of Equisafety, said: “People who buy them are not stupid. They do look very similar. That is why they are buying them. The cyclist is not breaking the law. He is not trying to impersonate a police officer. It’s a trick of the eye but it slows the driver down.”

Ms Fletcher came across the design by accident as she created safety jackets for horse riders.

She is dyslexic and wrote “polite slow down” rather than “please slow down” as she jotted down ideas on a notepad.

Now her firm, based in Wirral, Merseyside, has won a contract to supply bike firm Raleigh with its POLITE range this winter. It sells the bibs online.

Word spread among cyclists after reviews in cycling magazines and blogs, including London Cyclist.

Equisafety pressed ahead with the design after being assured by Met commander Bob Broadhurst that it was not illegal.

Ms Fletcher said: “It’s definitely not designed to look like a police jacket. It doesn’t look like any uniform I have seen. We have trademarked it. One cyclist told us it was like a ‘force field’ around him.”

***

Interesting idea.  Should we try this here? Post your comment.

CSL strengthens pioneering helmet bylaws

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Bike helmets are a must for all ages

Bike helmets are a must for all ages

One of my primary objectives when I first stood for election was to ensure that the City of Cote Saint-Luc became a pioneer in the field of making bike helmets mandatory for all cyclists with its first helmet by-law in 1992.

Cote Saint-Luc became the first city in Canada to adopt such a by-law in 1992.  Since then, half the provinces require helmets to be worn for cycling.  Unfortunately, Quebec is not one of them.

Since the 90s, a number of other wheeled devices have appeared in the market and our by-law is due for an update, to include kick scooters, skateboards, electric bicycles, etc.

In order to comply with Canadian standards, CSA approved helmets are the standard one should look for when purchasing a helmet.  The bylaw permits helmets that have the CSA label, as well as those that meet the American ANSI or the Snell Foundation standards.

The updated bylaw now covers electric bicycles, which are not governed by the Highway Safety Code (amongst other things, they do not require a license plate, a special driver’s license classification or the provincial requirement to wear a helmet as a motorcycle or gas-powered scooter would). Also included are in-line skates, skateboards and any self-propelled device used on the street or sidewalk.

Make bike helmets a family affair

Make bike helmets a family affair

The fine for non-compliance is now $25 (plus applicable court fees).  While the amount is relatively low it is meant to serve as a deterrent to non-compliance with the by-law. Ultimately, the city has taken the approach of education and awareness to gain compliance with the 21 year old bylaw.

If you cycle, scoot, skate or blade, wear a helmet! You might just save your head from avoidable trauma.

Cyclist safety campaign underway across Montreal

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The cyclist safety campaign is underway.  From June 4 to August 26, 2012, Montreal police officers will pay special attention to enforcing the highway safety code provisions for cyclists and drivers. Cyclists and drivers both engage in risky behaviour – it’s a two-way street!  In fact, 50% of the cyclist accidents leading to death or injury are the driver’s fault, and the 50% are the fault of the cyclist.

Read more via Cyclist safety.

And remember to always wear a bicycle helmet.  It’s the law in Cote Saint-Luc.

There are excellent promotional materials available online from the Quebec government’s automobile insurance board (SAAQ) on cycle safety such as this flyer.

SPVM warns cyclists to use their head… and wear their helmet

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SPVM warns cyclists to use their head… and wear their helmet

P.A. Sévigny, The Suburban

May 23, 2012

Constable Nathalie Valois. “It’s the only one you’ve got and you should do whatever you can to protect it.” As a long-time veteran of the SPVM’s bicycle squad, Valois told The Suburban she has seen more than her share of serious bicycle accidents, and, while experience demonstrates that most of them could have been avoided if either one of the parties involved had used a bit of common sense, Valois believes most of the cyclists could have avoided serious head injuries (or worse) if they had bothered to wear a helmet.

In order to make their point, several members of Quebec’s AQTC (Association Québecoise des Traumatisés Crâniens) were more than friendly and willing to talk to anybody about what it takes to recover from any kind of serious head injury. While it’s never a good day when you finally wake up after spending weeks in a coma, it’s even worse when you discover that you’re partially blind, you have no sense of balance, the headaches and the dizziness won’t ever go away and if you’re a man, chances are you will probably never have regular sex again.

As one of the MUHC‘s Injury Prevention coordinators, Tara Grenier used a plastic model to demonstrate what happens to the brain after it’s been affected by any kind of a serious blow to the head. As both the head and the brain are richly endowed with a complex web full of arteries and veins, any kind of trauma to the head can break blood vessels after which the blood has nowhere to go.

As the blood begins to form a clot between the victim’s brain and his skull, cells begin to die and it’s only a question of time and effective emergency treatment before the line is crossed between what is already a serious injury and the victim’s inevitable death.

“Over 70 percent of the cyclists treated at the Montreal General Hospital trauma department weren’t wearing a helmet at the time when the incident occurred,” said Grenier.

Further statistics indicate 58 percent of those who are admitted to the MUHC’s General Hospital will be treated for a serious head injury after which the same type of injury is also considered to be the leading cause of death or serious injury to both cyclists and skateboarders.

“So what’s more important,” asked Valois. “Your ‘look’ or your head.”

As there were more than 20 people stopping cyclists along the bike path, Valois and the others were getting a lot of attention. Instead of handing out nothing more than a pamphlet and a lecture, Valois and her partner, SPVM Constable Julie Boivert were handing out new bike helmets along with a T-shirt and lots of reasons why cyclists should wear their helmets.

While both Valois and Boivert were happy to stop and have a chance to talk with the city’s cyclists, she also mentioned that statistics indicate up to one in two of the city’s cyclists don’t wear a helmet while using their bikes. While she understands how the issue could easily become a question of personal choice, Valois believes it’s only a matter of time before people start wearing their helmets while riding their bikes through the streets of Montreal.

“Let’s face it, she said. “It’s hard to argue against the fact that wearing a helmet can reduce the risk and severity of a serious head injury by anywhere from 60 to 85 percent.”

Helmet safety

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CBC News reports surprising findings on helmet safety: CBC.ca Player.

Bottom line?  Ensure you and your kids wear a helmet for tobogganing, skating and skiing.

As we mark 20 years since I proposed helmet legislation in Cote Saint-Luc leading to the first municipal bylaw in Canada, once again, I call upon the Quebec government to require helmets for all cyclists and skiers.

Our dynamic and engaged MNA, Lawrence Bergman, could be a key advocate to influence the government to take action.

Post your comments here.

Did you cycle the CSL route?

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In the last few years I proposed the creation of a Cote Saint-Luc bicycle route initiative which I called “CSL Cycles”.  After two years of planning, in June 2011, the City launched the bicycle route along a 10-kilometer stretch in its northern half as part of an initiative to encourage residents to stay active.

Now that the summer is over, we’d like your feedback. Please complete the following satisfaction survey so that we can improve the route next year.

My plan, which is approved by the city, is to continue this route by connecting to the NDG bike route which leads to the routes headed downtown and to the Lachine Canal.

Please click this link to complete the survey and offer any suggestions.  The survey will only take a couple of minutes:

http://www.cotesaintluc.org/bikeroutesurvey

Focus on helmets

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Letter to the Editor, Montreal Gazette

Re: Deaths of two cyclists in Montreal refocus attention on road safety, Aug. 13, 2011

City planners ponder the design of bike lanes, police hand out tickets to cyclists plugged into their music and crash investigators examine yet another two cycling deaths last week in Montreal. Yet, where is the call for a province wide law requiring cyclists to wear helmets?

Helmets substantially reduce injury and prevent death in as many as 80% of cycling accidents. With statistics like that, the real focus ought to be clear as daylight to the police, city hall and the Quebec government.

Glenn J. Nashen

***

Letter to the Editor, Montreal Gazette

re: Commentary, It’s time for mandatory bike helmets, Aug. 17, 2011

Re: It’s time for mandatory bike helmets, Aug. 16, 2011

Dr. Debbie Friedman’s call for mandatory bike helmet legislation should serve as a reminder to Quebec legislators that helmets save lives and endless political debate is a disservice to all.

The City of Cote Saint-Luc became the first municipality in Canada to adopt a mandatory bike helmet bylaw back in 1991 yet without provincial legislation police have been reluctant to enforce. Helmets substantially reduce injury and prevent death in as many as 80% of cycling accidents. This would result in lower healthcare costs for all taxpayers.

After years of debate, study and draft bills, the Quebec government should follow the lead of our city and several Canadian provinces in making bike helmets mandatory.

Glenn J. Nashen

“Velo CSL Cycles” bike initiative is launched

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The City of Côte Saint-Luc has designated a bicycle route along an 10-kilometer route in the northern half of the city, as part of an initiative to encourage residents to stay active.

I have advocated for a cycling plan for our City for quite some time and in June 2008 I submitted a detailed plan entitled CSL Cycles and am very pleased that we have finally launched the first phase of a 5-year plan to make cycling fun and safer in Cote Saint-Luc.  This new route will make motorists more aware of bicyclists and along some stretches will create a reserved bike lane.

The route will form a single direction loop that includes Mackle Rd., Blossom Ave., Wavell Rd., and Marc Chagall Ave., and some additional roads. It will also cut right through Pierre Elliot Trudeau Park and Shuster Park. No parking spaces will be lost to the new bicycle route. About 115 chevrons have been painted at 100 meter internals on the road surface to warn motorists to look out for bicyclists. On some stretches of the route, there will be parallel lines to mark the reserved bicycle lane.

The bicycle path is part of the “Vélo CSL Cycles”, a phrase that I coined as a bicycling promotion and safety initiative. In addition to encouraging bicyclists to use the new bicycle route, the city will also be making it safer for bicyclists to use the three underpasses on Cavendish Blvd., Côte Saint-Luc Rd., and Westminster Ave. The city will post signs to advise bicyclists that they are able to ride on the sidewalk in the underpass, but must yield to and dismount for pedestrians.

 We’re making it safer for cyclists who want to use the sidewalk at the three underpasses.  As the council member responsible for public safety and traffic issues it is important that I stress that cyclists must act responsibly and stop and dismount every time they pass a pedestrian. And, without a doubt, all cyclists must wear a helmet.

CSL became the first city in all of Canada to legislate the wearing of bike helmets when I moved this resolution in 1991.  Studies show that 80% of head injuries can be prevented or reduced by wearing an approved helmet.

The next phases of the Velo CSL Cycles plan will call for designated bike lanes on Cavendish to connect with the NDG/Montreal routes that already connect to the De Maisonneuve lane toward downtown as well as the Lachine Canal bike path.  I have also pitched ideas including connecting Westminster in CSL and Montreal West to the Lachine Canal, creating bike paths through the city lanes on the northern strip of the city near Mather and behind some schools and homes such as the school near Blossom and behind the homes on Holland where the Hydro dirt road connects to the Cavendish overpass. We should also create on-street routes in Districts 4 and 5 on the southern portion of CSL and eventually build a pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting the area behind Bialik to Hampstead and the Parkhaven area to the CSL Shopping Centre.

I’d also like to thank Charles Senekal, Manager of the Engineering Department, and Mohammed Ali, Engineer, for their commitment and interest in handling this project with the utmost of professionalism.

For a map of the bicycle path and more information about the bicycling promotion and safety initiative, visit www.CoteSaintLuc.org/en/cslcycles.

En francais:  http://www.cotesaintluc.org/fr/velocsl

Bike paths reduce injuries: study

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Bike paths reduce injuries: study. (Montreal Gazette)

This study is another reason why Cote Saint-Luc needs to develop a cycling network to connect our municipality to the rest of the Montreal network. Plans are now underway to launch the CSL CYCLE initiative this spring.  More to follow.

Bike paths reduce injuries: study

BY MICHELLE LALONDE, GAZETTE ENVIRONMENT REPORTER

FEBRUARY 10, 2011

MONTREAL – The risk of injury for cyclists riding on Montreal bike paths is about 28 per cent lower than for cyclists riding on comparable Montreal roads unprotected from traffic, according to a new study published in an international peer-reviewed journal for health professionals.

That riding on separated bike paths is safer than riding in traffic may seem obvious, but there is growing debate in the United States and in some Canadian cities about whether bike paths provide a false sense of security and therefore increase risk, especially at intersections where cyclists are unprotected.

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials has published a “Guide for the development of bicycle facilities,” which cautions against building two-way paths along, but physically separated from, a parallel road.

The Montreal-based study, done jointly by researchers from McGill, Harvard and Northeastern universities as well as the Universite de Montreal and Montreal’s public health department, was published Wednesday in the Injury Prevention Journal. The study concludes that cycle paths encourage cycling and they lessen, or at least do not increase, crash and injury rates. The construction of cycle paths should not be discouraged in urban areas, the researchers conclude.

The study looked at six physically separated bicycle-exclusive paths, or “cycle tracks”, along Montreal roads (Brebeuf St. between Rachel St. and Laurier Ave., Rachel between St. Urbain and Marquette Sts., Berri St. between Cherrier and Viger Aves., de Maisonneuve Blvd. between Claremont and Wood Aves., Christophe Colomb Ave. between Gouin Blvd. and Jarry St., and Rene Levesque Blvd. between de Lorimier Ave. and St. Hubert St.).  Some of these are separated from traffic by raised medians, others by parking lanes or delineator posts.

These were compared with one or two parallel reference streets without cycle tracks that could be considered as alternative routes for cyclists. The reference streets had approximately the same number of intersections, traffic volume and speeds, cross traffic and heavy vehicles.

Overall, 2.5 times as many cyclists used the cycle track streets compared with the reference streets.

For example, Berri between Cherrier and Viger, which has a cycle track, was compared to the same stretch of St. Denis, which does not. Along that 1.4-kilometre stretch over a two-hour period, 763 bikes used the Berri cycle track, while 134 used St. Denis.

Data on injuries were gathered from emergency medical response services between April 1, 1999 and July 31, 2008 for the cycling season (April 1 to Nov. 15). There were 74 injuries reported during that nine-year period on Berri and 27 on St. Denis. Relative risk was then analyzed, taking into account the different levels of use by cyclists, and Berri was found to be 48 per cent as risky as St. Denis.

McGill civil engineering professor Luis Miranda-Moreno, one of the study’s authors, said it shows Montreal is right to provide cycle tracks, but could improve their design to reduce injury rates. “We now have some numbers to show (the city of Montreal) is doing something right, (but) this doesn’t mean there is nothing more to do,” he said.

Police plan to light up bicycles

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Bike lights

Image via Wikipedia

The Quebec Highway Safety Code (CSR) requires that bicycles be equipped with reflectors and lights. Cyclists must have a white front headlight and a red light at the rear when driving at night.

Montreal Police conducted an analysis of crashes in 2009 involving fatal or serious injuries between a cyclist and a motorist.  They found that 33% of these crashes occurred in darkness or twilight.

In order to improve cyclists’ safety when driving at night Police intend to increasing cyclists’ visibility.  Beginning this week Police will be providing a white light or red light, or both, to cyclists whose bikes are not equipped with required lighting equipment and will publicize the Highway Code.

Be safe when you peddle at night.  Make sure you are visible.

My Grandma Doesn’t Wear A Helmet

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My neighbour, Fran, recently learned about my advocacy regarding mandatory legislation for bike helmets and loaned me a copy of this delightful little book for kids.

“My Grandma Doesn’t Wear A Helmet” was written as a tribute to the writer’s mother, Roz, who passed away accidentally in 2001. Author Shoshanna Anisman says Roz was the most amazing, loving and giving person who instilled in her grandchildren a zest for life! This story is based on her many and wonderful adventures with her granddaughter. The warmth and closeness of the relationship between the two of them is felt on every page and in each illustration. The story is told from the granddaughter’s perspective and relates, in a most touching manner, the importance of always wearing your helmet; whether biking, rollerblading, motorcycling or even climbing.

This is Shoshanna (Shawnie) Anisman’s first foray into the writing world. She works full-time and is the single mother of two fantastic teenagers. She was inspired to tell this story so that others would be aware of the importance of wearing a helmet, at any age, while biking. In a split second her family’s life was changed forever because there are no formal helmet laws in Quebec, Canada. She is not a political activist or lobbyist and chose to get this important message out to the world in a much softer and perhaps a more effective manner.

Available on Amazon or check your local library.  A copy is available at the Cote Saint-Luc Public Library.

In my opinion:  Hats off (but keep your helmets on!!) to Shawnie on this excellent initiative and wonderful tribute to her mom. Every form of activism for a good cause is helpful.  I hope her efforts in creating this project help influence many people to wear a helmet while cycling and in other sports activity.  Perhaps this will also help the Quebec government in passing this much-needed legislation.  Remember, Cote Saint-Luc was the first municipality in Canada to adopt mandatory helmet legislation in 1991. Search this blog for lots more about bike helmet legislation.  I hope you agree?  Please comment.

Cross over crosswalks

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Cross over crosswalks
An open letter to the Quebec Ministers of Transport and Public Security
The Suburban
May 30, 2007

For many years I have been frustrated by the extent of lawlessness that exists on Quebec roads with regard to pedestrian crosswalks. One need only travel to neighbouring provinces and states to see the vast difference in how those authorities take this matter very seriously, much more so than in Quebec.

As a pedestrian and a cyclist I am amazed at the total lack of respect for those crossing a street within designated crosswalks. What’s more, it seems to me that the Quebec government is a party to this free-for-all as the signage, education and enforcement to protect pedestrians is negligible at best. This point is only magnified by observing how our neighbours handle this dossier.

For example, in Ontario, standardized panels bearing a large black ‘X’ on a white background indicate crossing zones. Most often, this is accompanied by amber warning lights that signal a pedestrian in the crosswalk.

Furthermore, many urban centres have overhead lights that illuminate as the pedestrian crosses the road at night, increasing visibility and safety.

In the northeastern states, and beyond, crosswalks are often painted in a highly visible manner, are prominently marked with ample signage and very often have a median sign in the centre of the road in reflective orange and white reminding motorists very effectively, “State Law. Stop for Pedestrians in Crosswalk.” These laws are very strictly enforced by local police and State Troopers.

In Ontario and many states, one need only step off the curb, or even signal ones intention to cross by pointing one’s arm into the roadway to gain control of the crosswalk, providing ultimate safety. On bike paths that cross roadways, and even state highways, signage is posted alerting cyclists to dismount so that pedestrian/crosswalk laws are in effect.

In Quebec, one takes their life into their own hands by thinking one can safely traverse a roadway by virtue of the crosswalk designation. There is little respect by motorists and rarely any law enforcement. Signage is inconsistent – not nearly as visible as in the jurisdictions outlined above, road markings are irregular, enforcement is usually absent and therefore pedestrians are simply not nearly as safe as they ought to be.

During the school season I have noticed motorists ignoring crosswalks, directly in front of schools, and this while crossing guards, large Stop Signs in hand, unsuccessfully try to gain control of the crosswalk. This should not – cannot – be tolerated.

In Côte St. Luc we are continuing to improve our signage and street line markings for crosswalks and will begin installing median warning signs this summer. Our Public Security department conducted a school zone safety blitz with our neighbourhood police station last winter and will do so again this year. I hope that Quebec might learn from its neighbours and can increase safety in crosswalks by adopting best practices in use elsewhere and order provincial and municipal police forces to show zero tolerance to motorists who disregard fundamental safety regulations.

Glenn J. Nashen
City Councillor (Public Safety)
Côte St. Luc

Bike Helmets in Cote Saint-Luc – 1991 CTV News

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1991 CTV News report about Cote Saint-Luc’s new bike helmet law – the first municipal bike helmet legislation in Canada. This was a major goal of mine when first elected and moving this resolution remains one of my prime accomplishments.