Montreal has great cycling infrastructure, as I wrote about in my series on cycling in Montreal. Turns out this infrastructure has led to impressive progress towards the city’s aims: decreasing pollution by increasing cycling in Montreal, while decreasing motor vehicle use.
McGill University has been studying bicycle use since 2008, focusing on the spots where the city has developed bike routes. The study shows a very encouraging 40% increase in cycling. One of the researchers, Luis Miranda-Moreno, comments:
“The increase has been enormous. There are places where congestion (on the cycling routes) will soon be a problem.”
What a great problem to have – I can’t wait until we have that problem in Vancouver! The researchers conclude: “Montreal’s experience should serve (as an example) for other cities looking to upgrade their cycle facilities and non-motorized infrastructure.”
This is all the more impressive considering that Montreal cyclists have to contend with very severe winters.
Like Vancouver’s visionary Mayor Gregor Robertson, Montreal’s Mayor Gerald Tremblay (seen above on a Bixi) has a green vision. His spokesman says that his mission has been to “make Montreal a world leader in bike use. … Residents said, ‘If they build it, we will come,’ so over the course of 2008 to 2010 when this study was being done, we invested $25 million and added 100 kilometres” of bike lanes.
The study notes that the Bixi bike share service has helped to boost cycling. Bixi spokesperson Bérengère Thériault says:
“This is great news in the sense that Bixi was set up by the city of Montreal because we want people to choose active and non-polluting forms of transportation.”
Thériault points out that 23% of the 3.3 million Bixi trips would have been taken by motorized vehicle if Bixi wasn’t there.
In Vancouver, estimates are that around 60,000 bike trips now take place in Vancouver every day. Given the congested state of almost all streets in and around Vancouver (have you ever tried to drive anywhere in rush hour in the Lower Mainland?), this can only be a good thing.
It will be interesting to see whether the new, improved, safer bike lanes in Vancouver (Burrard, Dunsmuir, and Hornby) lead to higher and higher levels of bike usage, and lower levels of traffic congestion.
Update: Yes, they did! Read all about the amazing evolution of Vancouver cycling here.
For more details on the McGill study, see Monique Beaudin’s post, “More people cycling, thanks to bike paths” (Greenlife).
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Alex P says
No doubt we’ll see some good numbers in Vancouver in the next year as well. Montreal is lucky to have Bixi though, many a time when I’ve taken the bus or walked to downtown I wished I’d had a Bixi bike or something there to use.
Average Joe Cyclist says
You know there is some talk that Vancouver will get Bixi … not sure how accurate that is. It makes perfect sense – if Montreal can sustain a Bixi system, surely Vancouver can. In fact, Vancouver just seems like a perfect city for Bixi, especially now that we have the separated bike lanes.
The lane system in Montreal is very impressive – in addition to the physically separated lanes they have in downtown they use parked cars to separate cyclists from traffic:
It makes it feel much safer to cycle – arguably a big reason why bixi has worked so well.
Average Joe Cyclist says
Hi Adriana. Yes, I am quite certain that is a big part of Bixi’s success in Montreal. We cycled there last summer, and LOVED the combination of Bixi’s and separated bike lanes – I actually did a post about Bixis and another about the separated bike lanes in Montreal. We were incredibly impressed, and will go back to Montreal just for the fun of being able to vacation without cabs!