Montreal is undergoing a paradigm shift as regards private transport. Whereas automobiles have for generations been the go to vehicle for vehicles that go, the bicycle, thought of in earlier generations as a child’s plaything, is gaining significant traction as an alternative method of moving people.
I celebrate and recognize this new method of movement as being beneficial in a multitude of areas including physical health, environmental benefits, and the unclogging of roadways. Numerous streets and boulevards have been reconfigured to accommodate the ever increasing volume of two wheelers. I am OK with this; mostly. As a fully committed four wheeler, I believe that rights and obligations go hand in hand. Auto drivers are being asked to make way, on the streets and in their minds, for the new arrivals. Caution is expanded to ensure car doors are not carelessly opened to avoid creating instant and potentially fatal obstacles for those of the saddle sores set. We are also becoming more conscientious in the use of rear view mirrors. Where as in earlier times, we checked for cars only, our mindsets are being expanded to include bicyclists.
While it can take time to change habits, I believe that most Montrealers are making room in their minds and on the roads for the new cohort. And here is where the obligation part kicks in – All taxpayers have been affected by costs associated with modifying roads, traffic lanes, etc. to allow for better bike access. Should the bikers who utilize the new services be required to pony up their fair share for the mods? Me thinks so.
In the olden days when I was a member of the two wheel sect, bicycles required annual licences.
They were not very expensive, were screwed onto the support of the front wheel or under the saddle. Their colours matched the previous year’s automobile licences. Truth be told, they looked kinda cool. So here’s my pitch – let’s return to the days of bike licences. Aside from producing additional semi-voluntary taxation for the city, obtaining such a license would require, as is the case with motorized vehicles, an exam comprised of both theory and practical prior to receipt. The test will serve to enhance safety knowledge, awareness of road regulations and courtesy, and will help defray some of the costs associated with this new cycle in Montreal’s evolution into the 21st century.