Thursday, May 25, 2006

Montreal and its Bridges

Montreal is an island.

Montreal has bridges.

However, not all Montreal's bridges are bike friendly. Happily many, even most, are completely bike friendly. Here is your guide to biking Montreal's bridges.

Bridges with no bike access. Some bridges are purely Autoroute bridges, so they have no sidewalk, meaning no bike access. These tend to be bridges built during the car-is-king Autoroute expansion of the 1960s. Roads are for cars and no thought was given to any other uses or transportation modes. Those days are gone forever (unless Jean-"bulldozer"-Charest is going to bring them back) and today many bridges have existing or newly-improved bike sidewalks.

Montreal area bridges and bike access information

Here is Velo Quebec web page on bridges: link.

Bridges off western tip of Montreal Island - connects to Toronto/Ottawa, Ontario and the little chunk of western quebec bordered by Saint Laurence river and Ottawa river.

Pont aux Ile-aux-Tortues - western tip of Montreal Island - Autoroute 40 - NO bike access at all, use nearby Pont Gallipeau.

Pont Gallipeau - western tip of Montreal Island at Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue - Cable-stayed suspension bridge - Bike access connects to Ste-Anne-de-Bellvue,

Bridges on south side of Montreal island - connecting to South Shore, Eastern Townships, Chateauguay Valley, and USA

Ferry: Lachine-to-Chateauguay - seasonal ferry crosses upriver of Pont Mercier on weekends and holidays in summer. Hourly.

Pont Mercier - Route 138 – Officially there is no bike access. However this is just government bureaucracy covering its ass. There is a sidewalk used by cyclists, on UPRIVER (western) side of bridge. Use at your own risk. There is a no-bikes-or -pedestrian sign that is ignored. No safety features. Construction activities may block this sidewalk. The sidewalk stops before the bridge ends at the southern side (where bridge arrives back on the ground), , hop guard rail and take hidden path downhill) to “route 132 westbound” roadway. Take this hidden path uphill to get on to bridge sidewalk.

Estacade (Ice control bridge west of Champlain bridge) - Nuns Island to seaway bike path (you can cross the seaway to the solid ground of the south shore via one of two ship locks (ecluses) at either end of seaway path at Saint-Lambert or Saint Catherine). On island access via Nuns Island (ile des Soeurs) beside Champlain Motors car dealership. Note: Get to Nuns Island by taking bike path from Verdun, at Canadian Tire (landmark).

Champlain bridge - No bike path - take the nearby Estacade ice bridge.

Pont Victoria - no bike path - and with the steel deck, a death ride for bikes! - take the nearby Pont de la Concorde across Parc Drapeau (Ile Ste-Helene/Ile Notre Dame) instead.

Pont de la Concorde / Ile Notre Dame / Ecluse Saint Lambert Locks– Connects downtown/Lachine canal via cite de havres to Saint -Lambert via parc Drapeau (ile Ste-Helene & Ile Notre Dame). Connect to this from the eastern end of Lachine canal (south side of canal), enter harbour (on bike path) pass by Habitat 67, pont de la concorde to Ile Notre Dame (2nd island), follow bike path off ramp and go left (yes against traffic) on circuit Gilles Villeneuve race track, bike path will fork to the right and go along the rivers edge and take you to seaway bike path and once here you turn left immediately, to the bridge across the St-Lambert locks to Longueuil.

Ferry - Old Port/Vieux Porte to Longueuil - seasonal ferry across the Saint Laurence to Longueuil. There is another ferry to the east that goes to Parc iles de Boucherville. it may be part of the same ferry network. half hourly schedule.

Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge - Connects eastern downtown to south shore (Longueuil) and Route Verte #1 bike path. Excellent sidewalk, recently widened (note, final 600 metres back on solid ground on south shore was not upgraded, one of those inexplicable bureaucratic oops-we-forgot-moments). Recent addition is suicide prevention barrier (high fence). This bridge connects, unmarked and poorly, to bike path networks on both sides of river. Crosses and connects to Ile Saint-Helene also. A bit hard to locate the ends of bridge, in Montreal corner of Papineau and lafontaine street (take Champlain street south from Parc Lafontaine to lafontaine street) or just north of Beaudry Metro/accesible from Rene Levesque bike path near maison Radio Canada. Note: western side of bridge is most scenic.

Lafontaine Tunnel - no bike access, there may be a seasonal ferry from Iles de Boucherville to Montreal. Bike path goes to Pont Jacques Cartier, Saint Lambert Locks, Estacade

Bridges at eastern tip of island - going east on north shore of Saint Laurence to Lanaudiere, quebec city, and Labrador

Pont Legardeur - eastern tip of island - route 138 - has sidewalk, but I have no additional information

Pont Charles de Gaulle - Autoroute 40 off eastern tip of island - NO bike access - take nearby Pont Legardeur instead.

Bridges on North Shore of Montreal - connecting to Laval and Laurentians

Pont Pie-IX (That's pope Pie-9, pronounced pee-nuff). Connects boulevard Pie-IX to Laval. Note: bike path along Gouin blvd. Good bike sidewalk.

Pont Papineau - Connects boulevard Papineau to Laval, connects to bike path along gouin blvd and main north-south bike axis (berri/Boyer/christophe-coulombe). Good bike sidewalk.

Pont Ile Perry (CP train bridge). Sidewalk rebuilt in 2005 to modern bike path standards. Previously it was scary narrow, now is excellent. Connects to Gouin blvd bike path (at west side of train tracks), and to laval bike paths, and to Route verte north (follow signs, east 1/2 km, cross road into park, and take first left fork north through less-than-scenic laval, connects to basse-laurentides path (annual ticket pay path) and to P'Tit Train du Nord in St-Jerome (another annual ticket pay-to-ride path). To cross from Laval to laurentians, you can either take the route 117 bridge in Ste-Rose (convenient) or follow the route verte method going a bit east and take a very windy series of suburban paths path with unmarked gaps through lorraine/rosemere/blainville.

Autoroute 15 bridge to Laval - No bike path access, it's an autoroute.

Pont Lachapelle - Marcil Laurin blvd in Saint Laurent to Laval - take sidewalk on west side. Connects to Gouin blvd bike path. Connects to east-west bike path on south side of Laval island.

Autoroute 13 bridge - NO bike path access

Ile Bizard Ferry - connects west island to Laval via seasonal ferry on Ile Bizard.

Other nearby bridges/ferries upriver and downriver

Oka-Hudson Ferry - seasonal ferry crosses Ottawa river a few miles upstream from Montreal. There are other bridges across the Ottawa river upstream of here.

Valleyfield - bridge(s) cross Saint Laurence and Seaway on Rte 201 25 km upriver from Montreal. Cross Laroque Road bridge to southern side of river. Bike path on both sides of river and canal. Soulanges canal bike path is sweet.

Sorel - I think there is a ferry from Sorel across the Saint Laurence at Sorel east of Montreal, but I have no additional information. Frequent crossings.

Trois Rivieres – A big bridge at Trois Rivieres. May not be open for bikes, but there may be a shuttle. - NEWS: There will be a bike lane built on this bridge in the next couple of years.

Quebec – Bike path on old Quebec bridge. Busy, popular, but narrow. There is a good ferry service from the Quebec port across the river to Levis.


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