5 Reasons Why You Should Discover Montreal on a Bike
Byline by Alexandre Duval
Travelling in an unknown city can sometimes be challenging, especially when you have to deal with public transit maps, tickets, schedules, etc. Fortunately, Montreal offers a transportation alternative that helps its visitors get rid of all this trouble: biking. Here are five reasons why you should opt for this evermore-popular way of visiting Quebec’s biggest city.
1. It’s Safe
Although Montreal is no Amsterdam in terms of bike use, it is certainly one of the pioneering North American cities in terms of alternative means of transportation. Not only do the city and its surroundings comprise more than 560 kilometres of bike paths, but also the urban planning efforts that have been made to accommodate bikers make it quite safe for everyone to roam the city on two wheels.
In fact, Forbes Traveler ranked Montreal the 4th most bike-friendly city on the continent, ahead of San Francisco and New York City! On many of Montreal’s biggest boulevards, bikers have their own reserved lanes, which help reduce the hazardous confusion that erupts when different types of vehicles share a common space.
2. It’s Convenient
Montreal’s public bike rental service, which is called BIXI, was implemented in the summer of 2009 and is built on a model similar to Barcelona’s Bicing and Paris’ Vélib’. Its 5,120 bicycles and 411 stations make it fairly easy to travel across the city without having to wonder if you will find a bike to ride or a parking spot to leave it when you are done.
BIXI is available from April to November, 24/7: this is a tremendous advantage for those who wish to travel the city freely, day and night, since they no longer have to worry about the public transit’s schedule. With a bike, you can never “miss the last ride”! Isn’t this the best way to set you free and take real vacations?
3. It’s Surprising
Going on a vacation in an unknown city is always exciting; Montreal is no exception top the rule! In fact, visiting Montreal on a bike makes it even more interesting; because you get to see more than if you simply use the underground transportation. You get the chance run into tons of unexpected, cools places such as parks, little cafés and restaurants, and small picturesque streets.
Discovering Montreal on a bike is like going on a voyage d’aventure unique which allows you to explore the city like locals do! In effect, biking in Montreal is not only a way to move from one place to another; it is also an activity in itself. Riding along the Canal Lachine, for example, will give you one of the best outlooks on the city!
4. It’s Quick
Getting to a specific place in any city’s downtown area can sometimes take too long by foot, and be quite exasperating by bus or subway if you have to change lines. Indeed, the best solution sometimes is to get on a bike! Whether you rent one with BIXI or ride your own, using a bike to move yourself around can save you a lot of time and trouble.
Moreover, if the place you are heading to is hardly accessible by bike because it is too far, you can always bring your bike on the subway and start using it once you are out of the underground system. In effect, rather than distancing itself from bikers, Montreal’s public transit system collaborates with them in an effort to promote a mix of alternatives to car driving.
5. It’s Cheap
Using a bike rather than public transit or taxis automatically saves you money. For instance, a one-day BIXI pass only costs $7 and includes as many rides of less than 30 minutes as you want throughout the 24-hour period. Although a one-day subway pass only costs $8, remember that service stops at night. Therefore, all the money you usually spend on taxis because you “missed the last ride” will remain in your pocket if you use BIXI… or a personal bike!
Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger. He is also currently completing his master's degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal. He has lived in and travelled across Canada, the United States and Europe.