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Montreal\’s Villeneuve Racetrack Reopens to Performance Cyclists

by John Symon

June 18, 2009 (Montreal, QC) – The Gilles Villeneuve Racetrack on Notre Dame Island is again open to performance cyclists reports La Presse. An agreement was worked out earlier this week between the Jean Drapeau Park Society and the FQSC, Velo Quebec, and various other organizations.

Park officials recently put cement barriers on the racetrack, preventing performance cyclists, wheelchair athletes, etc. from attaining high speeds around the course because of the high number of accidents there last summer (29 incidents involving 12 ambulance calls). The FQSC and other organizations requested that the track be kept open pointing out that essentially it’s the only place in Montreal’s metropolitan area where cyclists can perform high speed training.

The cement barriers to slow down cyclists have been removed, but other cement barriers will remain in place to direct automobile traffic. Signage will also be erected to direct slower moving cyclists to the right, and faster riders to the left. In addition, among the other measures agreed to, no time restrictions have been put on performance riders’ use of the track. FQSC director, Louis Barbeau, said he he was happy with this solution.

“We’re pleased that everything was resolved. Had the park contacted us first we’d have met earlier and reached the same conclusions. It’s important to recognize that all users need to be more responsible with the facility to ensure things work for everyone,” Barbeau told us in a phone interview. “We’ll continue to monitor things and make adjustments as needed. We know there are some hot spots such as key crossings etc. and we’ll inform all cyclists to be aware of these kinds of things including trying to use the facility at less busy times.”

The racetrack is named after Gilles Villeneuve (1950-1982) a distinguished Quebecois racing car driver. The 4.3km racetrack was built for F1 Canadian Grand Prix automobile races although the 2009 race was cancelled. The racetrack is the closest thing Montreal has to a velodrome, making it very popular as a training site for cyclists. It is also used as the venue for the Defi Sportif paracycling events, one of the few UCI-sanctioned bike road races in Canada.

To see the full article (in French) here.

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