Guide to all things biking in Montréal this season

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

This article was updated on May 21, 2020.

Experience Montréal by hopping on a bike this spring, summer and fall. The city’s 700 kilometres (435 miles) of bike paths and high-quality bike rentals make it a breeze to discover neighbourhoods, get to and from events, and see the city sights.

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Montréal’s ever-expanding bike system has been named one of the most bike friendly in North America by the Copenhagenize Index, credited with inspiring other major cities around the world to build more bike paths, encourage awareness of cyclists and do it all in style. Go your own way by renting bikes, bringing your own or trying out Montréal’s BIXI system.

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Bike routes

Make bike excursions smooth by plotting your route beforehand with maps from Vélo Québec, Montréal On Wheels and Route Verte. Tune your bike up and grab a map and a coffee at La Maison des cyclistes across from Parc La Fontaine. Biking downtown is made easy by the Maisonneuve Boulevard and Berri Street bike paths, running from the Grande Bibliothèque near Berri-UQAM metro station to shopping and museums downtown, to the city’s westside, where a stop in Westmount Park adds more greenery to the trip.

Among the most scenic bike paths is the Lachine Canal multipurpose path – beginning in the Old Port of Montréal, it runs for almost 15 kilometres along a still-functioning boat canal, past the Atwater Market, and all the way to the Musée plein air de Lachine in the west, a beautiful sculpture garden right on the river. Once out there, cyclists can continue on a bike path through LaSalle and Verdun, along the St. Lawrence waterfront cycling path, stopping at a nature sanctuary and watching brave surfers tackle the Lachine rapids.

Another scenic go-to, with views of downtown and the St. Lawrence River, is Parc Jean-Drapeau, located just south of downtown on an island in the middle of the river. It features 25 kilometres of bike paths plus the Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada’s Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, an outdoor swimming pool and a lake. The paths form part of Québec’s Route Verte, the longest cycling path in North America, and the Great Trail, the world’s longest recreational trail. Ride to the park from the Old Port via the de la Concorde Bridge or from the South Shore via the Victoria Bridge bike path – or, for the more daring, via the Jacques-Cartier Bridge. 

Further afield but still on the island of Montréal, north of downtown and the Plateau, the pastoral Gouin Boulevard bike path, one of the longest in the city, runs alongside the Rivière des Prairies, while further west, there’s the West Island Heritage Bicycle Trail. For more on these routes and bike routes outside the city, consult the cycling experts at Vélo Québec.

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BIXI and JUMP bike systems

For a no-nonsense way to get from A to B within the city, BIXI is a stellar way to go. Since its inception in 2009, Montréal’s city-wide bike system has expanded to include hundreds of stations across the city in all directions. Unlike rental bikes, the BIXI bikes are primarily meant for short commutes and available from April through to November: one-way, daily, three-day or monthly and seasonal access options let riders bike free for up to 30 minutes at a time all day and night, from any station to another – there’s an additional fee automatically added to rides longer than 30 minutes. Each sturdy bike has front and back lights, a front carrier and adjustable seat. Starting in 2019, a certain number of electric BIXIs joined the fleet – they can be rented at an additional cost of $1 per trip.

Newer on the bike system scene is JUMP by Uber. You'll see its bright red electric, pedal-assisted bicycles around the city. The bikes cost $0.30 a minute to ride and can be locked to any official city bike stand (signposts don't count!). Note that while the same road rules apply to BIXI and JUMP riders as they do to all other cyclists in Montréal, electric bike riders must by law wear a helmet due to the speeds the bikes can reach (32 km/hr, for the curious).

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More activities on wheels

Watch for more bike-friendly activities all summer long, including at Le Marché des Possibles in Mile End and the Old Port’s Marché des Éclusiers,

Pack a picnic for the road – whether the standard bread, cheese and wine or something more gourmet picked up at one of Montréal’s public markets, a local deli, sandwich shop or bakery. Take your time and roll in to a city park, including the long and winding path in Mount Royal Park, Parc La Fontaine in the Plateau, Parc Laurier and Parc Jarry or any of many public parks throughout the city. Whatever way you pedal the city, biking can take you to the most out-of-the-way corners of Montréal.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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