Battleground on the Streets: Montreal Summer Anarchy

Winter is slowly but surely fading while spring/summer is unhurriedly embracing us with its desired warmth. As the roads rid from the snow and the temperature allows for outside activities, a herd of Montrealers happily migrate their life to the outdoors. Pedestrians and joggers take their feet to the street, cyclists prepare their bikes for a swirl, BIXI becomes a popular means of transportation, and bikers show off their motorcycles and intimidate the Vespas – while cars attempt to stroll alongside all these fellow citizens. Young professionals also find any outdoor means of transportation to benefit from the sun before being locked down into the office for the next eight hours.

These myriad commuters fail to live harmoniously year after year, each creating their respective policies and their rebellious ways. As the commuters increase in number, all rules of engagement are forgotten, laws are breached and everyone acts for their own interests, resulting yet again in a chaotic seasonal reality; a state of anarchy. 

Pedestrians are the fragile ones. They are the most ill-protected. They have no metal structure shielding them; they are not guarded by a helmet and have a limited number of horsepower. In winter, drivers actually feel for the pedestrians, who are generally suffering outside in the usual vicious weather and in the reoccurring snowstorms. Drivers become empathetic and enter into a cease-fire period, allowing the pedestrians to take primacy on the road. In summer, pedestrians lose their only weapon, their only military advantage – empathy – and fall low in the food chain.

Cyclists have become the city elitists, the kings of the street! They have developed this unappreciated holier-than-thou attitude over the last few years. Roads have been built for them, traffic signs have been installed for them, BIXIs stands have been increasing for them, and even streets have been transformed from two-way to one-way, allowing them to dominate over the rest of the commuters. Despite all these new developments accommodating cyclists, they use them seldom, and instead rule the streets recklessly as though they belong to them. 

As a cyclist myself, I can confidently claim I dislike cyclists. Their superiority complex and guerrilla tactics intensify the tensions amongst Montrealers and result in casualties, accidents and potential commuter warfare. The state has invested in and supported them unequally more than the rest, resulting in their emerging power in this recent state of anarchy. 

Car Drivers
Drivers have been stripped away from any inch of power that they possessed. Despite their hard surface, their superior speed, and their bigger size, they are the feeblest of them all. Their opponents systematically cut them off and refrain them from rolling normally. Even pedestrians in large packs manage to overpower them.  Drivers become apprehensive and scared, and almost ready to surrender. Alternatively, road rage is maximized, passive aggressiveness is transformed into straight up aggressiveness, and a new anger continues to fuel this seasonal mayhem. 

Drivers accordingly attempt to develop new combat tactics without expensing the life of their enemy. They, however, continue to stagnate, as the number of rivals is growing. Cyclists, pedestrians, roller bladders, skateboarders, joggers, motorized bikes, Vespas, and so on, plague the streets, leaving drivers dizzily looking at their blind spot, rear view mirror, side windows, their sun roof and even the floor, making a 360-degree exorcist head turn to finally attempt to cross the street only to realize the traffic light turned red. Alas, drivers are the weakest of this multi-front battle. 

Additionally, these tensions have extended to territorial battles where drivers’ parking spots have been annexed by numerous BIXI stands, leaving them in despair and excited for winter.

Motorcycles and Vespas
With a hasty speed in open air, motor-bikers are in a position of high return with high risk, an investment that should be carefully contemplated. Motorbikes and the weaker Vespa population have it easy to squeeze between cars and buses, tormenting every driver who fears knocking them to the floor. Not only are they hazardous, but also are in a position of jeopardy should they not be careful. All this to say, please be safe.

Remaining Opponents
Rollerblades, skateboarders, surf skateboarders, tandem bikes, tricycles, unicycles, stilt walkers and shoe rollers have not yet fully defined a role for themselves. They are still somewhere at the bottom of the road-dwellers hierarchy, but will slowly roll up the rank of power and enflame the current state of chaos.

We are in a state of war, in a state of anarchy. Be responsible, young professionals. Promote peace, be safe, be careful, be considerate, but fight for your rights!

“Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you’ll live — at least a while. And, dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!? Alba gu bra!” (movie: BRAVEHEART).