Saturday, August 19, 2006

Pont Jacques Cartier in Longueuil - Helpful Directions

The bike path along the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge ends in Longueuil. There is no map, no painted on road bike path marks, and there are no direction signs. You're on your own! Here's the Cycle Fun Montreal guide to the three directions you can go in.

Note: sorry this is a bit "information dense" but there's a lot of riding opportunities on the south shore, and several loop-ride circuits back to Montreal.

The Pont Jacques Cartier bridge is really great, until you get to Longueuil, where the bike path suddenly narrows into a width exactly 2.01 bikes wide, and constructed from 6 foot long cement sidewalk. Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity BumpityBumpity Bumpity BumpityBumpity Bumpity Bumpity Bumpity, well you get the picture. It's better if you keep your speed under 20 km/h.

Note: This route info takes the west (upriver / downtown) side of the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge, it starts from corner of Papineau and rue Lafontaine (one street south of Ontario), Two streets south of Parc Lafontaine (i.e. this is your access from the Rachel bike path). Then it crosses the busy Papineau north-bound car entrance, follows the sidewalk (bumpy & unmarked) to the bridge bike-path entrance. At this point you see that the bridge has a bike path access. It is from the bike path along Rene Levesque near the Radio Canada building.

It's a long bridge, I think it's 5 km long. It's really quite impressive, it crosses the mighty Saint Laurence river, and it's two islands: Ile Ste-Helene, where you can take an exit to some nice riding, some new public swimming pools, the major montreal icon the giant geodesic dome from Expo 67, or even do a loop back home via Pont de la concorde and Old Montreal) . The other island, seen from above, is Ile Notre Dame, home of the amazing Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. This is a Formula One racing circuit, and it is a bike magnet. Where else can you ride a closed road race course? Incredible. Plus you can leave this island by another bike path, which follows the Saint Laurence Seaway (ship canal) for 15 car free kilometers on a wide road in a natural riverside setting. You can ride the Estacade back to Montreal Island via Nuns Island (Ile des Soeurs) through Verdun to the Lachine Canal bike path (at Atwater) .

Anyway, back to our story.

Arriving at street level, you probably are looking for bike path markings on the road, or a direction sign indicating where to go next, or perhaps a map of the longueuil bike path network.

Yes, you would be looking for these things. But you wouldn't be finding them. There's nothing here at all. Zip. Rien. You're shit outa luck. Fortunately you are reading Cycle Fun Montreal, and we got lost so you don't have to. (That's better than it sounds.). There are three principal directions you'll want to be going in:

SOUTH/EAST - Direction to Spiral bike path overpass and the Route Verte bike path to Chambly and many cycling options (some short but with over 2000 km of bike path possibilities!). rom the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn left, go under the underpass, and immediately turn left, then immediately turn right, on to Lasalle. This takes you to (becomes) the bike path that, with a few zigs and zags, takes you to the Spiral Overpass to Saint Hubert/Chambly. There is a shortcut to the Spiral Overpass in a couple of miles, but that's another story.

Here's my video of the spiral bike overpass.

EAST/NORTH - Direction along the bike path beside the south shore of the Saint Laurence river, a dedicated bike path between the autoroute and the river. From the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn left, go under the underpass, and immediately turn left, (same as South/East) but stay on this road. Follow it to XXXX, where you will turn left (direction of river/autoroute) and there will be a bicycle overpass for you. Once across the autoroute and on the river side, you can turn left and return via road (2 km) and then the rest of the way on the riverside bike path (You'll do a wide U-turn under the autoroute in a couple of miles) to return to the PJCB and the south/west access. Or, if you turn right, you are on the bike path to Boucherville and beyond. The dock for the ferry boat back to Montreal is not too far along this. And there is a provincial park: Parc des Iles de Boucherville, a nature park on islands in the Saint Laurence. Canoes and Kayaks are available for rent.

SOUTH/WEST - Direction to follow the Saint Laurence river south and west as it passes under Montreal Island. You can take to the Saint Lambert Locks, where you can cross to the seaway path, or back to Montreal via Ile Notre Dame (Parc Drapeau) and Pont de La COncorde, or crossing Ile Ste-Helene back to PJCB). From the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn right, then take the first street left. This takes you to TIFFEN, which is part of the actual official bike path access to the Saint Laurence river-side bike path south and east. This ends in in about 25 or 50 km in Saint Catherine where you can take the Seaway bike path back to Montreal. When you cross over to the seaway path you can take an oiptional side trip turning left into a summer riverside park with great views of Montreal and the Lachine Rapids. Or turn right, and you are on a carless paced road along the Saint Laurence across from downtown Montreal, totally scenic.

Well, that's a summary of some of the many possibilities at the southern end of the Pont Jacques Cartier bridge. Now you know where to go, and most importantly, how to get back.

Have Fun!

Resources: There are some excellent bike maps for this area. There are two maps for the Monteregie:

La Monteregie - Circuits Routiere (Bike rides on the open road away from the bike path network)
La Monteregie - Pistes Cyclable (All the bike paths on the south shore and the larger Monteregie area

These maps are given out freely, often at a bike-tourist kiosk on the Bike path south/west
There is a tourist office on Chemin Chambly, accessible if you take the directions for EAST/NORTH - From the end of of the Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge bike path (PJCBBP) turn left, go under the underpass, and immediately turn left, (same as South/East) but stay on this road. RIde past XXXX to Chemin Chambly. Ten minutes? Turn left, and look for the dicsretely marked tourist office, it has a zebra outside to help you find it.

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At 2:28 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Hi there. I live on the Island and I would like to bike out to Chambly, but I would prefer to review a map before I go out there. The city of Montreal has a great PDF of the routes, but I can't find one for Longueil and the "Route Verte" website is pretty crappy when it comes to maps. I guess a bigger question is "do I need a map?" How easy is it to pick up the route verte to Chambly from the Circuit Jacques Villeneuve? More importantly, do you know what the surface is like for that route (Longueuil to Chambly)? Thanks!


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