by Anne Macquarie
Ca roule Montreal – in French that means Montreal on wheels and it’s the name of a bike rental shop in the Old Port area of Montreal. But to me it also means what it sounds like in English – Montreal rules.
Montreal is the best biking city I’ve ever seen.
How’s this for a ride – from the Old Port (right in the center of old Montreal) out along an early-twentieth-century canal
– the Lachine Canal – completed in 1825 so ships could bypass the Lachine Rapids on the St Lawrence River, now replaced by the St Lawrence Seaway (which we also rode along on this ride) and turned into a 15-mile-long park.
- A stop for picnic provisions at the Marche Atwater then to a park at the confluence of the Lachine Canal and the St. Lawrence
back along the St Lawrence
to the estacade du Pont Champlain – A bikes-and-pedestrians only route on a low bridge built in 1964 to break up ice formations in the St. Lawrence so they don’t take out the highway bridges downstream….
The 2-kilometer-long estacade across the St. Lawrence
Then back to the Old Port to return our bikes to Ca Roule Montreal. (On the way back we got to ride along a Formula One race track for a while). It’s about thirty miles of riding, through one of Canada’s major cities, on an off-street bike path the while time.
Other bike-friendly features of Montreal:
Bixi Bikes – a citiwide bike-borrowing system. Put in your credit card, you get a code number that you punch into a rack, unlocking a Bixi. Ride it as long as you want ($5 for the first ½ hour, then $1.50 each additional hour, or a lot cheaper, you can get a membership at $78 a year) then drop it off at any Bixi rack.
Here’s Boulevard Maisonneuve in downtown Montreal – wide sidewalk, two-way bike path, curb, a couple of lanes for cars, then another wide sidewalk. So nice to see a street that’s balanced between uses, not overwhelmed by automobiles. And the bike lane is very well used. Note the Bixi bike rack to the right.
It’s amazing what you can accomplish to make a city bike friendly if you have the political will to do it, as evidently happened in Montreal. Vive le Quebec!