Montreal has long been a bike-friendly city, with well over 500 kilometres (or 310 miles) of bike paths on Montreal Island to date. An interactive map of bike paths in the metropolitan area shows these paths. In fact, in 2011, Montreal was ranked the best city in North America for bicycling (and eighth worldwide).
In the past several years, more and more bike infrastructure has been installed in Montreal, especially in the city’s core. This is thanks partly to an expansion in the number of bike lanes on streets and of dedicated bike paths. Montreal’s 2008 Transportation Plan proposes to increase Montreal Island’s bike network to 800 kilometres (or 500 miles). As an example of road engineering favourable to cycling, sharrows (or shared lane markings with two chevrons and a bike symbol) have been installed in Montreal, as in many other cities. Goals of increased bike infrastructure include:
● More bike usage;
● More transportation sustainability;
● Less car use and traffic congestion;
● Promotion of active living.
There is a local precedent for the development of a bike path network: As shown in a 1897 map, the Montreal area had a lot of possible cycling routes, though these were not formalized into bike paths/lanes, like today.
Due to limited space, only one of many examples of suburban bike path development in Montreal is discussed. Starting in 2011, my neighbourhood of Cote Saint-Luc has developed its own bike lane network and its development is still underway. The network is marked with sharrows on the pavement.
Also, Montreal has an innovative and hugely popular bike-sharing program called Bixi (a portmanteau of “bike” and “taxi”) in and around the city’s core. Bixi was launched in May 2009, and has over 5,000 bikes available for rent and over 400 stations in its network. It runs each year from April to November, depending on the weather. Bixi was modeled after Paris’ Vélib’ network; in turn, it has inspired similar bike-share programs in other cities, such as Toronto and London, England.
Which is better for Montreal – dedicated bike paths or bike lanes shared with motorists?
Credits: Image and data linked to sources.