While many sports are difficult or impossible to practice during the COVID-19 confinement, bicycling is a notable exception. The sport can be practiced individually or in small groups (i.e. families), taking advantage of the warm weather that has finally arrived. And Montrealers are fortunate to live a one of the most bicycle-friendly cities worldwide. In this article we will look at the Top places to bicycle around Montreal.
In the 1980s, Montreal became the first North American city to start building protected bike lanes. Today, Montreal is ranked the most bicycle-friendly city in North America by the Copenhagenize index. Globally, Montreal ranks 18th by that same index.
The most beautiful bike paths in Montreal
- Berges Ouest Cycle Path.
- De Maisonneuve Boulevard Bike Path.
- The Lachine Canal Bike Path.
- The North-South Bike Path.
- Parc Jean-Drapeau Bike Path.
- Mile End-Plateau Bike Path.
“So many Montrealers would like to ride their bikes on a daily basis, but they do not dare to do so because the infrastructure is unsafe and they fear for their lives. Montreal’s bike network was built in the 1980s and is no longer adapted to our reality. New infrastructure needs to be built to meet the needs of today’s cyclists. I travel by bike every day and I see how many problems there are and how great the need is,” states Montréal Mayor Valérie Plante on the Copenhagenize website.
That statement by our bicycling mayor apparently predates the current pandemic. Now, in an effort to facilitate social distancing, city officials are rushing to add 327 kilometres of bike paths to a network that already counted 876km. Some of these bike paths wind along waterways, offering safe, flat, and scenic rides.
A 35km circuit from Atwater Market through Verdun and LaSalle near the rapids and back along the Lachine Canal was selected by Time Magazine in 2009, as “the third best urban bike path in North America.” This is also one of my favourites, often including ice cream stops on the way.
Some other classics include the 14km Maritime Seaway (the first bike path in Canada) between St Lambert and Ste Catherine, Gouin Blvd, and Senneville Road on the West Island. Access to the Maritime Seaway bike path from the South Shore is presently complicated by the closure of a link at St Lambert.
Perhaps you want to do a ride off Montreal Island but can’t carry a bike in your car? Bicycles are permitted on the metro and on Exo commuter trains at no additional fee; some conditions apply. Taking the Exo train to St-Jerome, for example, puts you at the start of the 232km P’tit train du Nord bike path leading through the verdant Laurentians on a former train track with gentle gradients. This bike path is surprisingly rural, featuring waterfalls, fishing holes, and spots for swimming.
Bicycles are also permitted on local ferries for a modest fee. The ferry from Ile Bizard to Laval, for instance, gives access to bike paths in Laval and then Deux-Montagnes, which eventually lead to Oka Park. When we checked on May 26, Mohawks were letting cyclists into the park, but blocking car traffic.
You can also escape Montreal Island on bridges that have bicycle paths, including the new Champlain Bridge, the Jacques Cartier Bridge (downtown to Parc Jean Drapeau & Longueuil), the Concorde Bridge (Habitat 67 to Parc Jean Drapeau), the Galipeault Bridge (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue to L’Île-Perrot), Le Gardeur Bridge (Pointe-aux-Trembles to Repentigny), and many bridges to Laval. A notable exception is the Mercier Bridge (to Chateauguay) where the bike path was “temporarily closed” in 2009, but never reopened.
Remember during these COVID-19 times to carry drinking water and use the washroom before leaving home. An online bicycle map for Montreal Island is available at: http://ville.montreal.qc.ca/portal/page?_pageid=8957,99693747&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL