Biking Fans in Wilmington NC—Visit Montreal!
If they can do it in Montreal, we can certainly do it here.
First thing we need to do is think outside the box. Montreal is a large, sophisticated North American city with the kind of winter we all escaped, hills and mountains we would be challenged to bike (think Mount Royal=Montreal. They’re French and English).
Does 600 miles of bike paths in a city get your attention?
Over a million active bikers, 66% of whom bike at least once a week? A city initiative to spend $150 million in 5 years with a goal of 15% of all trips by bike in the city in coming years?
In Montreal, city leadership believes building bike lanes is cheaper and healthier than endlessly tearing up the city to add more car lanes.
The bike lanes are carved out from public streets, usually separated by narrow concrete separators. Many streets are one way. (A lot of bike paths are plowed for snow—we don’t need to copy that policy.) Safety records are impressive and improving.
Bikes are loved by the broad public. This is not a benefit conceived for the poor. Montreal has a well distributed affluence. People simply see bikes as a sensible way to make short trips and enjoy biking. This is not a long historical evolution as one might find in Asia or Europe. It evolved beginning in the 1970’s and has continued to grow ever since.
A bike sharing service, Bixi, had 6,200 bikes on the streets at 540 stations as of several years ago, and more today, so bike pick up and drop off are easy, convenient and economical.
Bikes were not strewn on streets and sidewalks. We saw very few electric bikes or electric scooters, but they are probably inevitable in the future...
MONTREAL’S RETAKING OF THE STREETS FOR BIKES AND PEOPLE RESULTS IN
DELIGHTFUL URBAN GATHERING “TERRACES”.
Here, one picture is worth a thousand words. Following are photos of moveable boxes to be filled with happy diners and imbibers, using space recaptured (overlapping) one or two street parking spaces in front of popular public gathering spots. Wouldn’t that be a delightful addition to our Cityscape? A few surrounding trees or a canopy as a last resort would complete the scene for our warmer weather.