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Winter Cyclist Beaten Up for Slowing Traffic in Montreal

by John Symon

December 18, 2012 (Montreal, QC) – Florent Daudens, a Montreal resident, was cycling December 14 on Saint-Hubert Street near downtown Montreal when he was physically attacked reports Alain Gravel of Radio Canada on his blog(in French – link below). The incident occurred where the street narrowed and Daudens was forced to ride into the street, forcing motorists to slow down for perhaps 15 seconds. An agitated passenger in a car began calling insults to the cyclist along the lines of, “Hey, jerk, stop slowing down the traffic. Move aside! Streets are made for cars, not bikes, especially in winter!”

Daudens apparently tried ignoring the man, but the driver stopped to let out the agitated passenger who rushed at the cyclist and punched him in the face. Daudens fell to the ground landing on his head, but luckily was wearing a helmet. The man continued to punch Daudens while he was on the ground trying to protect himself. The assailant then jumped back in the car and drove away, leaving Daudens with two broken teeth, a black eye, multiple bruises, and a swollen face.

Daudens, a journalist who works with Gravel, is presumably back on the job this week based on his recent and numerous Tweets, most of which relate to the tragic events with Friday’s school shooting in Connecticutt rather than to his own situation.  Daudens does thank well wishers for their messages, praises ambulance technicians who attended to him, and mentions that there are apparently two witnesses to the attack. He also exchanged Tweets with apparent cyclists from Calgary about sharing the roads, something Daudens claims that he already does.

Alain Gravel will be a familiar name to many Pedal readers; it was his Enquête program that first exposed cyclist Genevieve Jeanson for having doped with EPO (erythropoietin) during almost all of her career. Revelations of corruption exposed by Gravel and his colleagues also played a key role in the events leading to the establishment of Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission. Testimony there led to last month’s resignation of Montreal’s former mayor, Gerald Tremblay.

Gravel counts himself among the “some 50,000 winter cyclists in Montreal,” but Vélo Québec puts that number at closer to 100,000. While Montreal has its Réseau Blanc, a network of perhaps 50km of bike paths cleared of snow in the winter, the network is a very low priority for snow-clearing crews. And the parts that are cleared are often short sections not connected to other cleared bike paths.

Suzanne Lareau, president of Vélo Québec, deplores how Montreal every winter clears some 6,550km of sidewalks, but cannot find the money to clear about 14km of bike paths to connect the isolated parts of the réseau blanc. Vélo Québec also deplores the lack of coordination between different city boroughs on clearing bike paths.

Meanwhile, a key bike path link across the St. Lawrence River in Montreal recently closed for the season. The Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path and the pedestrian path both closed on December 13 to be re-opened at an undetermined date according to The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated (JCCBI). The bike path reopened on March 13 of this year after a three-month winter closing.

Gravel’s blog (in French) on Daudens being attacked:

Vélo Québec’s criticism (in French) of Montreal’s Réseau Blanc:


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