Bike like a Montrealer with BIXI

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

This article was updated on August 30, 2022.

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.

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 bike rides are taken on the 9 600 BIXI bikes (7270 regular and 2395 electric).

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 45 minutes (for longer period subscribers) are included with a low fee for additional time. The 3-day passes or packs of 10 rides are perfect for any visitor who wants to experience Montréal on wheels. BIXI’s informative website and How it Works section offers step-by-step assistance and further details.

BIXI goes electric!

The Electric BIXI offers electric assist to riders with speeds of up to 32 km/h. Electric BIXIs can be spotted on the app with a small lightning bolt and cost a small extra fee of $1.00 per sign-out. It’s also necessary to wear a helmet and follow the Highway Safety Code while riding, but it’s a zip of a ride!

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. And the system keeps growing! In 2019 BIXI expanded with 60 new stations in newly covered areas like Montréal-Nord, Saint-Léonard, Anjou and the town of Lachine, bringing the total number of stations up to 600. Best of all, you can now bike the full extent of the canal and park it for a relaxing break once you’ve reached the open waters of the St. Lawrence River at stately Parc René-Lévesque.

Here are three 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 6 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 – there are approximately 10 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. 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 is the community director for QueerMTL, an internationally-touring musician with his projects Woodpigeon and Frontperson  and a graduate studies student of history researching LGBTQ+ activism in the city. He’s lived in Montréal since 2015, during which time he’s most often spotted atop a BIXI bike usally running a few minutes late.

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