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Update on Montreal’s Gilles-Villeneuve Racetrack Closure – Very Positive Meeting for Cyclists

by John Symon

May 12, 2017 (Montreal, QC) – Louis Barbeau, director of the Quebec Cycling Federation (FQSC) described a recent meeting as “very positive” where cyclists and authorities at Jean Drapeau Park (SPJD) tried to find solutions to the proposed closing of the Gilles-Villeneuve Circuit (GVC).

 ©  Parc Jean Drapeau

“Details are still to be confirmed, but it looks like we will get an additional 40 days for cyclists to use the facility,” Barbeau told Pedal. “This appears to be a significant gain.”

As per our previous report, park authorities originally proposed closing the GVC from May 8 (later postponed to May 15) to September 4. There was also talk of allowing cyclists access during very restricted hours and not to the entire width of the circuit – read more here.

 ©  Parc Jean Drapeau
The 4.361km Gilles-Villeneuve closed circuit dates back to 1978, includes 13 turns and is located on Notre Dame Island in the St. Lawrence River. Many competitive cyclists and triathletes use the circuit for training. In 2009, authorities in Jean-Drapeau Park previously decided to close the GVC to cyclists in an effort to “reduce injuries.” This unleashed a storm of protests from cyclists and led to an eventual reversal of that decision.

“We will not be able to use the hairpin curve, but that is not critical for us; there will be about 4km left for cyclists,” noted Barbeau. Others attending today’s meeting included: Jean-François Pronovost (Vélo Québec), Marie-Ève Sullivan (Triathlon Québec), Marc-Antoine Ducharme (Parasports Québec), Vincent Courcy (mobilization against the closure of the circuit), Geneviève Lebrun Grand Défi Pierre Lavoie charity ride), Amélie Dubé (City of Montreal), and Ionut Munteanu (Société de Transport de Montréal). There were also three representatives of the Société du parc Jean-Drapeau (SPJD) led by Patrick Léveillé (SDJP) Under the observation of Marc-André Gadoury (city councilor and chairman of the advisory committee on bicycle – Ville de Montréal).

“Our primary concern is safety,” said Barbeau when asked about the prospect of frustrated cyclists turning to the streets and bikepaths of Montreal to practice time trials, “Even with the work going on at the GVC, it is still the safest place for cyclists to ride in Montreal.”

“I don’t think that the SPJD would have come forward with these proposals unless they think it can happen. Once the details are confirmed, probably by early next week, we will issue a press release,” concluded Barbeau.

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