Bike like a Montrealer with BIXI

Mark Hamilton

You may notice just as many Montrealers getting around on two wheels as on two feet. Simply put: Montréal is a biker’s paradise, with over 800 km of pathways around the island, including marked street lanes, making travel by cycle as easy as 1-2-3. Didn’t travel with a bike of your own? Worry not: Montréal’s BIXI bike-sharing system has got you covered.

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Bike + Taxi = BIXI

Combining two of Montrealers’ most loved methods of transport, BIXI takes the convenience of an ever-ready taxi rank with the compact speed of a bicycle to create a bike-sharing system that was the first of its kind in North America. Each year, over 5 million rides are taken on the more than 6,000 BIXI bikes stationed around the city.

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But how does it work?

Getting access to the system is a snap. Open to anyone with a credit card, BIXI passes are available for several time periods ranging from as little as a one-way trip to a full season from April through to November. Bikes can be booked directly at the station or via the BIXI app (for Android and iPhone) and the first 30 (for rides purchased at the station) or 45 minutes (for longer period subscribers) are included with a low fee for additional time. BIXI’s informative website and How it Works section offers step-by-step assistance.

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Some perfect spots to BIXI

Well-marked bike lanes traverse all over Montréal, and the popular historic (not to mention beautiful) Lachine Canal is a short 15-20-minute bike ride from Downtown. Metro stations are also equipped with BIXI stations, so it’s easy to use both systems in tandem. Here’s four other suggested routes around Montréal you’ll experience in no better way than from atop a BIXI.

  • For 51 weekends of the year, the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve on Parc Jean-Drapeau’s Notre-Dame Island is open to cyclists grabbing a small taste of what it’s like to race around its corners as an F1 driver (many of whom make engine-revving noises with their mouths as they ride). The Formula One Grand Prix du Canada takes place here on that 52nd weekend every year in June. There’s 5 stations total on the park’s two islands, including one right by the Metro station on Saint-Helen Island.
  • Take a relaxing roll along the pathways crisscrossing the 63 acres of Parc Maisonneuve amongst the rollerbladers and strollers. The surrounding neighbourhood has several stations available, and there’s two more placed conveniently right on the edge of the park as well. That spaceship-looking structure looming in the near distance isn’t a UFO – it’s the Montréal Tower, part of the Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park, also well worth a bike around that you’ll never forget – three stations onsite make it easy to pick-up and drop-off a trusty vélo for the trip too.
  • Every summer, Montréal’s seasonal markets and outdoor spaces open, and they’re the perfect opportunity for a BIXI ride. The Marché des Éclusiers brings the wares of local artisans to Old Montréal, while the Marché des Possibles brings tasty eats and live performance to the Mile End. Close by, the Aire Commune is a wonderful terrasse to grab a drink and watch the neighbourhood creatives passing by, while down on the banks of the Lachine Canal the Station F-MR gives new life to retired Metro cars in a setup your Instagram followers are going to love. You can reach them all from downtown in less than 30 minutes – grabbing a BIXI from the well-stocked station in front of the BAnQ Grande Bibliothèque makes for a perfect starting point.

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton, blogger, Queer MTL community manager

Male, mid-to-late 30s, tall and bearded. Likes romantic walks on Mont Royal, long-distance cycling, beard oil products and antique travel guides. Has a bad habit of falling in love with men in vintage photographs who are certainly long dead. If he could be anything, he’d live his life as a professional flâneur. Until then, he spends his time writing, making music, and wandering.

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