For our first vacation since the pandemic began, we went to Montreal to get the blissfully safe feeling of cycling in Europe => separated bike lanes + motorists who aren’t trying to run us over! (Yes, I know not all motorists in Toronto are actively trying to hit us, but the numerous close calls with inattentive drivers are just as scary.) It’s nice to go somewhere we don’t regularly face near-death experiences and can be a bit more chill on our rides. As a bonus, we chose to go during the Go Bike Montreal Festival! Best decision ever!
Vélo Québec has been organizing the flagship ride of this festival since 1985! For some context, Vélo Québec is a member-supported cycling advocacy group much like Cycle Toronto, except it’s been around decades longer — Vélo Québec was established in 1967, whereas Cycle Toronto was founded in 2008. No wonder Toronto lags behind Montreal in terms of infrastructure and cycling culture. Still, Toronto is catching up, but I’ll talk more about that in another post. Back to Go Bike Montreal!
There are 3 rides in the festival and we signed up for 2 of them: Tour La Nuit & Tour de l’Île.
Tour La Nuit
Yes, you read that right — 18,000 people took part in this ride! We’ve done bike raves in Toronto where we were thrilled to get a couple hundred people out riding, but here there were THOUSANDS. All ages too, from kids to elders. There was even a lady with her cat! People decorated their bikes and wore costumes. Locals were on their front stoops and balconies, waving and cheering us on. There were two live music stages along the route. The energy of the cyclists, performers, local cheering squads and volunteers was positively amazing! And the pinnacle of it all was cycling through the Olympic Stadium!
The whole ride was an absolute blast.
To us Torontonians, the most amazing thing about this event is that the entire route was completely closed to motor vehicles. Even our #ActiveTO events let motor traffic through at major intersections. But Montreal is like, nope! If your car is inside this loop during our ride, tough luck! You’ll just have to wait until it’s over. Gosh, we can only dream of a future where Toronto city officials have the guts to approve an event like this.
It was also wonderful to meet up with fellow Bromptoneers from Ottawa, Rob and Sarah. Thanks for riding with us!
Tour de l’Île de Montréal
The flagship ride of this event is the Tour de l’Île de Montréal. It’s so big that there are THREE starting points. We began the ride at Parc La Fontaine (the other two starting points were Parc MacDonald and Parc Angrignon). Even though there were many thousands of people in attendance, we ran into our friend Jehan.
What a wild coincidence! Clearly, cycling in Montreal is magic.
Like Tour La Nuit, Tour de l’Île de Montréal was completely car-free, and everyone participating and organizing and cheering was amazing. If you love cycling, we highly recommend taking part in Go Bike Montreal.