Change happens, ... slowly and incrementally - a lesson from Montreal

I like to try and learn about best practice from all over the place, but it is not often that we see North American cities quoted as great examples for liveability - at least not with a mobility lens.

However, there is a LOT to learn from this video from an excellent channel (new to me) called Shifter.

In this case, Tom visits Montreal to be shown around all the developments in infrastructure that have had an impact on walking, cycling and driving, and how this has become part of the local culture now.

The overall lesson is here, is that change can happen, but it is best done slowly and incrementally in order to build support and avoid confrontation, but also to build up critical mass.

Many of the solutions here will be quite North American specific (few European cities would have the road width to cope with such wide cycle lanes and still allow cars in the same way), but even so, it should be an inspiration to many campaigners everywhere.

Montreal has just gone up several spots on my list of places I still need to visit.

I think our US friends will like this ( @sara @luis ) -

What do you think?


The culture change is such a hard trick. A friend (journalist who bikes a lot) visited Amsterdam once to report on it for his local paper, and was shocked to find no “bike culture”, just … culture. That’s a big shift that will be hard for a lot of Americans (who have been trained that car culture is… just culture).

I do think overall persuasion is the right approach (we need a flipbook of the best “cars to pedestrians” before-and-after pictures!) but boy, as I watch San Francisco screw this up yet again on a street I used to ride regularly, it is very hard not to become angry/militant.

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Actually, maybe someone here has a pointer on that: a great collection (perhaps a social media thread that could be mined?) of before/afters like this one:

that’s very true. Nowhere has “car brain” become more engrained than in North America, so it will be harder to shift. However, I think this one of the key points made in the film. If you do this over time, you actually do get to shift the perspective because after a while, these “alternatives” become “normal”, so doing more of them is not as hard.

The tricky part is getting started!

indeed, I believe that @fietsprofessor shares a lot of such images, along plenty of other interesting and thought-provoking content

Here’s a great, and topical one, from the Grand Place in Brussels

De Fietskoerier has a lovely thread about traffic filters in Antwerp, with striking before/after pictures.

Another great before/after shot from Jersey City.

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