MONTREAL, Sept. 22 /CNW Telbec/ - The Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT) is painting a very positive picture of Montreal's seventh annual In town without my car! day. A very large number of visitors came in spite of the rain, and the AMT only noted a small decrease in participation compared to last year, when almost 50 000 people participated.
"This year, we opted for a new formula, which consisted in re-creating a car-free city downtown. Rather than "closing off a perimeter," we decided to create our car-free city with many different activity points, in a festive atmosphere. By taking this approach, we wanted to give Montrealers a glimpse of a city that is built entirely around active and public transportation. Given the number of participants and the reactions we observed, we can definitely say, 'Mission accomplished!'" Joël Gauthier, the AMT's president and CEO, said enthusiastically.
Comedian and CKOI radio host Laurent Paquin, who served as the event's spokesperson, was thrilled with his experience. "It was a great event, and I'm really happy to have been associated with it. If every person decided to use public transit whenever possible, it would definitely improve our environment and the quality of the air we breathe. I think we should remember this day for creating a car-free city as something festive, not as an event aimed at criticizing or restricting drivers," said Paquin.
During the event, many entertaining, interactive and multidisciplinary activities enlivened the public spaces in the car-free city. For example, participants learned about various solutions for getting around at the School, discovered ecotourism at the Campground and some locations were transformed into rest areas where people could stop and chat. This was the case at the TRANSDEV Terminal, set up especially for the occasion at the corner of Sainte-Catherine and Bleury streets.
As well, over 400 elementary and secondary school students became more familiar with financial concepts by taking part in the Carbon Exchange game in the Bombardier Business District. This activity, which took place at the SNC-Lavalin Carbon Exchange trading floor, was aimed at instilling lasting values in a new generation and showing the students how a carbon exchange works.
Visitors who downloaded the audioguide, produced by Audiotopie, to their MP3 players were able to explore the car-free city from another angle. Finally, for those who had no choice but to bring their car downtown today, there were free plants handed out by representatives of the Fédération interdisciplinaire de l'horticulture ornementale du Québec to help them compensate for their CO2 emissions.
In addition to all the educational activities, visitors to the car-free city enjoyed the sounds of the Porn Flakes and their special guests in a noon-hour concert. Bruno Landry, Patrick Bourgeois, Lulu Hughes, Martin Fontaine, Elizabeth Blouin-Brathwaite, Sébastien Plante, Gabrielle Destroismaisons and Fred Lebel gave electrifying performances, and there was a surprise appearance by Laurent Paquin. In the first half of the show, David Tremblay and his band performed the event's theme song, "Un point c'est tout," with music and lyrics by Tremblay himself. The show was made possible by Le Diplomate, a multimedia firm that has been involved in event presentation for the past 25 years.
Throughout the day, people strolling along Sainte-Catherine Street in front of Place des Arts also enjoyed demonstrations of inline skating, skateboarding and BMX in the Extreme Zone, to the exciting beats of DJ Analog.
Views on the street in the world's largest grand car-free zone
For the presentation of this event, the Car-free city was bordered by McGill College and Saint-Urbain (open) and René-Lévesque and de Maisonneuve (open) (from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.). This was the largest downtown area without vehicular traffic among the more than 1,300 cities that took part in Car-free Day around the world. The people interviewed on site were very enthusiastic. "It is great to walk in the streets and rediscover Montreal" said many participants.
Short- and long-term impact!
In car without my car! Day definitely had an immediate impact on the environment. A decrease of about 70% in air pollutants was recorded in the car-free city compared to readings taken the same day outside the area closed to traffic.
"It's really interesting to realize that this event, which is intended to be inclusive and festive, also prompts some people to reflect and even question the way they get around. If In car without my car! Day has sparked this reflection and convinced people to make greater use of active and public transportation, then we can definitely say it's been a great success," concluded the AMT's Gauthier.
About the AMT
The Agence métropolitaine de transport is a government agency with a mission to expand and plan public transit services in order to improve the efficiency of travel in the Montreal metropolitan region. The AMT currently operates five train lines, as well as more than 29,000 incentive parking spaces, 16 bus terminals and 85.2 km of reserved lanes. Annual ridership on the suburban trains is nearly 16 million passengers, ranking the metropolitan Montreal region sixth in North America. For more information, visit www.amt.qc.ca.
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SOURCE Agence métropolitaine de transport
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