Montreal goes car free for the day Montreal Gazette
Published: Friday, September 22 2006
Pedestrians and cyclists took over the streets in a section of downtown Montreal on Friday as part of the fourth annual Car Free day.
Roads were closed to cars and trucks in the area bounded by de Maisonneuve Blvd., René Lévesque Blvd., McGill College Ave. and St. Urbain St. between 9:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Abou Baker, a parking lot attendant on Jeanne Mance St., was reading a newspaper and drinking a coffee just before lunch hour. "We're normally three guys working, but I'm alone today. My boss is not happy at all."
Scores of empty parking spots indicated that people took the suggestion to leave their cars at home seriously.
At the east end of the perimeter, there were no gridlocks. But at the west end of the perimeter, some drivers waited about 15 minutes to travel one block on McGill College from de Maisonneuve to Ste. Catherine.
Christiane Goyette from Blainville did not complain, however. "If I lived closer, I would leave my car at home," she said.
A group of primary school students from Les Enfants du Monde whizzed passed people casually strolling on the strips of grass laid down in the middle Ste. Catherine for the event.
"La Place des Arts! Where is it?" one yelled out in French to anyone listening. They were participating in a scavenger hunt with an ecological theme organized for Grade 5 and 6 students.
Henriette Paquin, 84, and her friend Lucille Mousseau, 74, do not own cars and met for lunch downtown. They were not aware it was Car-Free Day until they noticed the lack of noise.
"You can tell right away. It's so quiet!" said Paquin. Mousseau said the initiative was a good idea but that's impossible to ask everyone to leave their cars at home.
"Change will come, but I'll be dead when that happens!" she said and laughed.
Last year's event cut carbon monoxide emissions in Montreal's downtown core by 87 per cent and reduced carbon dioxide by 85 per cent.