| Aerial Photo
The Evolution of Montreal Circulation:
which direction to take?
As McGill grows upwards onto the mountain, there are many reasons to
reconsider circulation issues on the larger scale. One of these is simply
the issue of safety- with many more people crossing the streets more frequently,
proper facilities must be provided. Another is the need to better integrate
the campus proper with the various peripheral zones up the hill. And finally,
we have an opportunity to call into question many of the planning decisions
made in the past, in order to envision a healthier, safer, and more efficient
city in the future.
The McTavish Reservoir is bounded by three streets-
McTavish, Dr. Penfield, and Des Pins. The latter two are part of a larger
traffic system the centre of which is the elaborate interchange connecting
Des Pins with Avenue du Parc. This system, which contains elements spreading
as far as our site, represents a dated planning philosophy which favours
automobile circulation above all other factors, segregating cars from contact
with anything else.
The local goals of creating an inviting area for
pedestrians on our site demand that the entire system be re-examined. Thus
we will consider not only the streets surrounding the site but the system
that feeds them with traffic.
|Avenue du Parc Interchange System:
Presently, adjacent to the Reservoir site, Des Pins and Dr. Penfield
have 3 lanes of 1-way traffic each, for a total of 6 lanes 2-way traffic.
Des Pins is 4 lanes wide on either side of the interchange. Avenue du Parc
is only 3 lanes wide to the south, but through Parc Mont-Royal it widens
to 8 lanes. These roads are connected by an interchange which permits one
to turn any direction except from East-to-South and from North-to-West.
During rush hour this interchange accomodates large volumes of traffic and
serves as a valuable link between the city’s northern neighbourhoods and
the downtown core. Integration efforts at the Reservoir site that entail
narrowing or restriction of traffic lanes would have repercussions on the
However, the entire system, while it does a very
speedy corridor through the city, could be reconsidered. In an article in
this summer’s Urban Design Quarterly, Tim Pharoah stresses the importance
of the basic division of roads into “traffic” and “living” areas (UDQ, Summer
2002, Issue 83, p20). The Du Parc Interchange is clearly and all-traffic zone,
but it is surrounded on all sides by living zones. There are Outremont and
Mile-End to the north, the Plateau to the east, the student Ghetto to the
south, and the Golden Square Mile to the west. The same journal notes that
“more road space attracts more traffic” (p.15). It can be seen from early
maps that, while Du Parc has always been a key artery in the city, it has
grown much more than any other adjacent route. As a result, it is more than
a mere street- it is a massive barrier between the city and the mountain.
Pedestrians are confined to circuitous paths that wind around and through
the interchange, creating an unsafe and unpleasant journey for would-be park-goers.
Tim Pharoah identifies this practice of vehicle/pedestrian segregation as
the ideology of the 50s and 60s, and he calls for integration in new designs.
An urbanistically favourable long-term plan would be to re-integrate this
large area, for it is not only a path to somewhere, but a place in its own
|Avenue du Parc Interchange System:
In “The Greening of Urban Transport”, Rodney Tolley has assembled a
series of essays on all aspects of new ideas in traffic planning. Central
to this “Green” philosophy is the tipping of the priority scale much more
in favour of the pedestrian. He explains that traditional planners largely
overlooked foot and bike traffic because, well, they could! That is to say,
walking is such a basic human activity that we tend to take it for granted.
It is only after having witnessed the often monstrous effects of car-oriented
planning (as evidenced in the Du Parc interchange) that planners have come
to give much more attention to pedestrians. After all, is it not by foot
that we truly experience a city? Good pedestrian cities tend to have very
successful tourist industries- an Montreal is no exception. This city is
by and large very pedestrian-oriented, but the area in question is quite
a noticeable exception. And, perhaps more importantly, green planning is
safe planning. Wiley writes (in the UK in 1990): “walking is the most dangerous
travel mode next to motorcycling”, accounting for one-third of all road deaths.
All of these factors led the European Parliament to adopt “The European Charter
of Pedestrians’ Rights” in 1988. In ensures that “the pedestrian has the
right to complete and unimpeded mobility”.
The basic proposal is to flatten the existing interchange,
and all other design considerations spin off of this central idea. If a
rondpoint, or traffic circle, is used, it might form, instead of a barrier,
a plaza symbolic of the connection between city and mountain. Instead of the
“urine-scented galleries” (Wiley, p15) of the pedestrian underpasses, the
new sidewalks should be wide, with planter-boxes, benches, and clearly identified,
generous crossings. Traffic-calming principles can be applied in certain
key areas (see following panels), while overall traffic volumes can still
remain a priority. In this way, not only would the issue of safety for McGill
students be addressed, but a gateway to the Mountain would be created.
The application of green principles on a large scale
would benefit not only the further development of McGill, but the city at
|Transit Service: Improvements
THE MOUNTAIN ISSUE:
McGill already benefits from a well-developed
transit system. The campus is served by the metro and several major bus
routes. The upper section of the campus, however, is not served nearly as
well as the lower. Only two bus routes, the 144 and 107, pass the Reservoir
site, and these are not heavily used. Thus, most of those using the Medical,
Life Sciences, Education, and Law facilities either drive to work or face
a steep hike up the hill from the metro station.
LIGHT RAIL & GREEN BUSES: SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT
Montreal has already shown interest in developing
“green” transit systems such as Light Rail (see the Transportation
Management plan at www.mtq.gouv.qc.ca/region/montreal/plan_en.htm
and article at www.trainscan.com/news/s0206/) and feasibility studies are
underway for a new route on Avenue du Parc and one across the river. Light
rail is less expensive than underground metro systems, but it is still more
pricey than the conventional bus. There are also several green developments
in this area as well. Low-emissions diesel, hydrogen fuel-cell, and combustion/electric
hybrid are just a few areas of interest.
Ideally, if the upper campus is to be successfully
integrated, new transit lines would be provided and existing ones improved.
The existing 144 bus line could link to the future Du Parc rail line, carrying
commuters from the north. Bus or light rail on University and/or Peel streets
would form a valuable link between the site and downtown, also benefitting
other faculties, residences, and hospitals. The more accomodating the transit
system is, the less commuters will feel compelled to use cars.
|Commuting on bike and foot – balancing
BICYCLES - GAINING MOMENTUM
The city’s bicycle network is growing. Currently there are good paths
on the Plateau, along the Lachine Canal, and in many other areas. There
is no dedicated bike path accessing McGill, however, and many frequently-used
routes are unsafe (i.e. Sherbrooke St., Blvd. de Maisonneuve, etc.). It
can only be hoped that further development of dedicated bike paths by the
city will include the McGill Campus.
On the site, bicycle parking must be provided. The months between
March and November see a huge number of cycle commuters on campus, and on
sunny days the campus’ bike racks are full, as well as every other tree,
signpost, and railing!
FOOT TRAFFIC - SAFETY AND PRIORITY
Pedestrian access to the site will require upgrading, as mentioned
earlier. Several new crossings are required (see photos at right), and
in general the area’s sidewalks should be widened in order to accomodate
both increased traffic and increased outdoor life.
|Security and Barrier-free
Shortcuts, night routes, and shuttles...
For security reasons as well as practical purpuses, there should
be a clear demarcation of acadamic and residential routes so that unwanted
traffic, pedestrian or vehicular, can be restricted.
Shortcuts going through the site will have to be controlled particularly
with respect to the on-campus residences.
The map below outlines an East-West and North-South route for crossing
the camouus after dark. Thes routes have been chosen because they are less
isolated, more open and better lit than others. The map also shows an extension
of the night routes all along McTavish and Peel streets reaching the
resevoir site as well as the medecine campus. Therefore a secure network
be linking all major academic and housing buildings on campus.
For the security of the large numbers of people that will be circulating
in this area, the section of Dr Penfield adjacent to the site should be
planned so that it looks less like street for cars and more for pedestrians.
It would become a student-oriented street where the SSMU and other
student related activities can be incorporated.
Security is not the only reason for the planning and the extension
of the routes to the higher campus. This network should also be barrier-free
and conform to the listed articles. It also has to be used by disabled and
elderely people, therefore shuttles have to ensure their circulation all
NATIONAL BUILDING CODE ARTICLES:
Access to Above Grade Storeys
Location of Access Routes
Access Route Design
Minimum Number of Exits
Distance between Exits
WORKS CITED :
Matus, Vladimir. Design for Northern Climates. Van Nostrand Reinhold
Co. NY 1988
Tolley, Rodney, ed. The Greening of Urban Transport. John Wiley
& Sons NY 1990
Tim Pharoah, Jan Gehl, et. al. Transportation – a Transformation.
Urban Design Quarterly, Iss. 83, UK, Summer 2002.
Canadian National Building Code.
McGill Security Services
B.N.Q. Photo Archives.
Les albums de rues Édouard-Zotique Massicotte,
Greater Montréal Area
Transportation Management Plan
LRT along Avenue du Parc :