A Guide to Biking in Montreal, Quebec
With over 403 miles (650 kilometers) of bikeways, including 213 miles (342 kilometers) physically separated from motor vehicles, Montreal is truly North America’s bicycle capital.
One can comfortably cycle, from one side of the city to the other, without ever having to ride in traffic. The birthplace of BIXI bike share makes it easy to get your hands on two wheels and start exploring the majesty, character, and history of Montreal.
Ride with 30,000 of your closest friends at the Go Velo Festival, soak up local and international culture at the Just For Laughs and Montreal Jazz Festivals, experience the world renowned Cirque de Soleil under a big top in the historic Old Port, or take in a Montreal Impact soccer game with the rabid Ultras supporters group. There are almost too many festivals to keep track of in Montreal. From the chilly, outdoor electronic fest of Igloofest in January, to the decidedly warmer Festival International Nuits d’Afrique in the humid July evenings.
If festivals aren’t your thing, Montreal’s many venues – from intimate cafés to large auditoriums – offer live music any night of the week and you’re sure to find something you’re into. Food, music, fashion, comedy, and art define this international city, and the best way to see it all is by bike.
Be sure to also visit the Old Port, Historic Lachine Canal, Mount Royal Park, Plateau Mont-Royal, Mile End, The Olympic Park, and Jean Drapeau Park.
There are a few too many places to count here but we’ll give it a go. Le Cajibi is a shaggy-chic dive has long been a favourite haunt for scenesters, zinesters and cyclesters in the Mile End. Great food, live entertainment and generous bike parking. Stop by Schwartz’s Deli for an overloaded sandwich filled with their world-famous smoked meat, or head out along the Rachel St. protected bike path to La Banquise, a 24-hour diner home to a dizzying array of poutine options. Pedal up into the Mile End for delicious (even according to meat lovers) vegan cuisine at Aux Vivres, or head up to Park-Ex for fried chicken and other Southern fare at Dinette Triple Crown. For a late night bite, the city is covered in what seems like a million counter-service shops serving up cheap shawarma, by-the-slice pizza, poutine, and steamed hot dogs – a Montreal-specific “cuisine” combination popular with locals on their way home from the bar.
Airbnb is always a great option for finding inexpensive accommodations. The Gouverneur Hotel offers secure bike parking and is conveniently located at the intersection of two downtown cycle tracks (Berri and Maisonneuve). You also can’t go wrong with the Plateau Mont-Royal neighborhood: plenty of bike lanes, bars, and parks to explore.
Swipe your credit card for access to one of the 5,000 BIXI bikes (free for 30 minutes at a time). The Montreal On Wheels bike shop delivers rental bikes to most hotels in the city. You can also rent a bike for the duration of your stay from Fitz & Folwell or Allo Velo. Fitz & Folwell offer bike tours, too.
Chris Bruntlett is the co-founder of Modacity, a multi-service consultancy focused on inspiring healthier, happier, simpler forms of urban mobility through words, photography and film. @modacitylife | modacitylife.com