The Best Bike Cities in North America: Montreal, Quebec

You don’t have to give up the amenities of a large urban environment just because you prefer traveling on two wheels over four

Montreal, Quebec.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The island of Montreal is an ideal destination for people looking for a taste of Europe in a Canadian city. The many separate cycle tracks and painted bike lanes connect you to almost everywhere you want to go in the downtown core and into surrounding neighborhoods. The city currently has over 300 miles of bike routes, which it plans to expand to 500 miles in the near term.

In the summertime, bike lanes teem with cyclists in everyday clothes riding to work, to the store, or with their kids in carriers or on bikes of their own. Bikes line the sidewalks and streets outside of popular bars and clubs on weekends. They lean against stone walls outside cafés or against patio railings. You’ll find them hoisted onto bike racks or rolled onto light rails. For residents of Montreal, biking is just a regular part of the lifestyle.

A short pedal from downtown Montreal across the Jacques Cartier bridge and over to St. Helene Island will take you to the Biosphere, the environment and sustainability museum housed in a large transparent dome that is a lasting legacy from Expo ’67. A trip to the top of Montreal’s namesake mountain, Mount-Royal, will give you a panoramic view of the many bike routes leading to and along the Saint Laurence River.

Grab a BIXI bike, a popular mode of transport for residents and visitors, and with a $5 24-hour access pass you can travel on any bike for free for the first half-hour. Considering there are over 5,000 BIXI rental bikes at 400 stations, you could easily tour the entire city by BIXI.

The Maison des Cyclistes, located next to the picturesque La Fontaine park, is home to the very active cycling advocacy organization Velo Quebec. It’s also near the starting point of Tour de L’Ile, an annual 30-mile bike ride around the perimeter of the island on car-free city streets that brought together 25,000 cyclists this year. It and Un Tour la Nuit—a nighttime 14-mile bike ride along streets also closed off to car traffic that involves lots of glow sticks and funky lights—both end at a fair ground complete with Ferris Wheel, roasted bananas, beer garden and live music.

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