Monday, 29 July 2013

Living the bike share dream in Montreal

Two weekends ago, I had the incredible privilege of returning to a city where I spent much of my childhood, and experiencing it in a whole new light. My parents grew up in Montreal, and as such, nearly all of my extended family continue to live there. Meaning while growing up in Ontario, I spent many weekends and extended vacations visiting La Belle Province. This time around, with our kids enjoying cottage life with my parents in the Laurentians, Chris and I enjoyed two wonderful days exploring Montreal as tourists, on our favourite means of transportation... the simple bicycle.
Picking up our first set of bikes for the weekend
Cruising along the separated lanes of Montreal's Le Plateau area
Thanks to Chris being part of the Cycle Chic Republic, we were able to connect with Anne of Montreal Cycle Chic, who set us up with two complimentary BIXI keys for the weekend. How absolutely wonderful to be able to experience a bike share system that has been growing and thriving for five years. Being big proponents of the impending Vancouver bike share system, we were in heaven: being able to easily check out an upright bike, ride to our destination, then simply dock the bikes and move on with our day. We knew we would love the bike share system, and Montreal's BIXI did not disappoint. 
Hanging out on Sunday with our new friend from Montreal Cycle Chic
A handsome self-portrait
What I found most amazing, though, is how many Montrealers we witnessed using the bike share at any given moment. All throughout the street were people of all ages using BIXIs to get around their beautiful city. We had even heard stories from our friend how they know people in the city who sold their personal bikes and rely exclusively on the bike share to get around. It was easy to see why: BIXI Montreal offers 400 stations throughout the city and 5,000 bikes, meaning that you are never far from a station and a bike to get you where you want to go.
This dapper fellow looked very cool on a Bixi
Barely tall enough to ride but enjoying it nonetheless
Experiencing Montreal on a bike was a dream, especially having spent so many visits using the Metro to get around underground. I travelled to many new and familiar places on two wheels, seeing one of my favourite Canadian cities up close and personal. The bike share was just an added bonus. It made me so hopeful for what Vancouver's bike share could become. For now, I feel lucky to have had the experience I did riding around the streets of Montreal the way locals do, on a BIXI bike, in the sunshine, with a smile on my face!
Riding a Bixi - there's nothing to it!
Outside Club Social on Rue St Viateur -
a certain M. Coville-Andersen's favourite viewing spot in Montreal
One last shot before ending a perfect weekend in Montreal

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