I had always heard Montréal was North America’s most bicycle-friendly city, but I believed that like other “best-of” bicycle achievements, reality would reveal something a bit subpar. I was wrong.
There are miles upon miles (kilometres upon kilometres?) of curb-protected bicycle lanes. Apparently the city has over 40 miles of them (that’s actual protected bicycle lanes, with curbs or bollards). Many of these lanes were installed just before Bixi’s launch in 2009. Many of them are on street, and some are adjacent to parks.
These lanes continued on and on. They didn’t form a perfect grid – some detours were required to stay in a ‘protected network’ – but the network was such that when one ended, it seemed to connect with another one, indicated with signs and paint on the ground. I’m convinced curb separation is a great way to go: Not once in 4 days did I experience any cars, delivery trucks, or taxis blocking the lanes, and I rode around a lot. In Chicago yesterday, I encountered no fewer than ten vehicles parked in our ‘protected’ buffered bike lanes; in Montréal, the only time I saw a vehicle parked in a bike lane was on a street with the basic “two white stripes” lanes.