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.

Friday, May 19, 2006

The new bike path year

What happens when the bike paths open for a new year?

First, the streets get cleaned (mostly) and if we are lucky all the crap is cleaned up, especially at intersections where you least want to turn the corner and AIEEE go down cuz your tire slid on the loose dirt!

Next, about a month later, intersections get painted with a dashed line for the bike path, so car drivers know to watch out for cyclists who don't (can't?) stop.

All through the plateau the path crosses streets with no 4-way intersections, meaning the cars have the priority. (this mystifies me totally, wouldn't 4-way stops be safer?) Although many (ok, most) cyclists stop at these intersections, the cars need some warning that they are about to hit already-brain dead people on bikes (these aren't cyclists, not even the pseudo-racer types) who don't seem to understand the concept of stop sign.

So the city paints these lines instead of making the intersection a 4-way stop. Well, I suppose it is better than nothing.

Another bike path improvement
The south entrance to the bike path north-south through parc Lafontaine at corner of Cherrier street has an expanded level-with-street sidewalk corner. Previously this was the standard wheelchair sized crosswalk entrance, meaning pedestrians and bikes were charging towards the same five-foot wide section of sidewalk. Now the corner has an expanded lowered-sidewalk section and it permits bikes to use a separate trajectory when aiming at the bike path going north. Good work ville de Montreal. I like seeing these small but important improvements to the bike paths to reduce chance of accidents spoiling everyones day. Whether we admit it not, there's a lot of people playing chicken (a poor etiquette riding technique where the rider inside her head thinks assertively "I'm not chicken and if I aim right at you, you'd better get out of my way or I'll run you over!") so this will reduce the body count.

Puddles and Poodles
I set up Rusty as a rain bike and today got to ride it in the rain for going the the BibNat super library and some food shopping after at Diabilissimo and Fromentier (got a Trio and an pain de verger). The fenders work fine. The bmx pedals work fine and my feet don't slip. There are a lot of puddles on the bike path. Not too many poodles, which is good cuz you can skid on them if you can't bunny hop over top of 'em. Noticed my tires do a bit of a slid when crossing roadcrap or crappy road with gouges or edges parallel to direction of travel. Also tree reproduction stuff on ground made things slippery. But Rusty doesn't encourage racing speed so stability limits were inside the envelope.

I am using a new MEC helmet rain cover in bright yellow which made life slightly more bearable. I wasn't sure it would but it seems to make life in aquatic weather better, and of course, goes a long way to being a HIGHLY VISIBLE city bicycle rider. This is probably my rule one for city bike safety. Also makes me even more cute than ever.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Recent Bike Path improvements in Montreal

Lots of rain this week, during my VACATION!

Here are some recent Montreal Bike Path improvements

Bridge to Nuns Island (between Verdun and Nuns Island) - Sidewalk Bike path across river is widened by about two feet, it is now wider and safe for two bicycles meeting each other to pass, I had seen accidents here before, so this is a great improvement for anyone wanting to expand their local bike path repertoire. This bridge connects the mainland (accessible by going south from lachine canal bike path south at atwater OR eastern end of excellent Saint Laurence river bike path of Lasalle/Verdun) at Verdun Canadian Tire store. You can tour Nuns Island or cross Saint laurence on Estacade (ice bridge) just upriver from Champlain bridge and ride beautiful bike path on saint laurence seaway between Pont Jacques Cartier and Saint Catherine Quebec.

Nuns Island traffic circle(s) - traffic circles have well identified and signs identifying priority for pedestrians and cyclists crossing stop-sign-free trafic circles. People actually stop for bikes, well, some people anyway, the nice ones.

Montreal north-south (Plateau Axe-Berri) bike path has improvements at intersection of De Breboeuf and Laurier at Laurier Park to separate pedestian traffic and Bike traffic, a very useful redesign! This separation of feet and bike traffic is needed in many places!

Bike Parking at Bibliotheque Nationale. Additional bike parking has been added in front of building (de maisonneuve entrance). Note: there are lockers inside at the back entrance to hold your coat/helmet etc that you don't want to carry around inside the library, remember to bring your own lock. The Berri Axis bike path goes right past the library. But be careful on bike because the bike path is between the sidewalk anbd the streetside car parking and car people just don't look when crossing the bike path. LOOK OUT!!!

Clark street bike path now connects to Parc Jeanne Mance. This path used to stop mysteriously and frustratingly at Saint Joseph. It now connects via Villeneuve street to Parc Jeanne Mance. Please follow the painted symbols on the street showing which direction of traffic travels on which side of the street. So many people can't figure this out!!! This path follows one-way streets so it is essential to be on the correct side of traffic to ensure a safe flow of traffic. Don't be an idiot! The arrow shows which side to travel on.

A safety tip: For gods sake, don't go down one way streets the wrong way. The next street over is one way in your direction, take the 30 seconds and make life safer for everyone!

Jean Talon Market redesign. With the completion of a permanent pavilion on east side of Marche Jean Talon there is now a large amount of bike parking at every side of market. Remember to lock your bike well. Thieves are here. I saw one get caught! Otherwise, this is a very good market to bring your bike (and backpack) to.

Clark Street bike path - now has redesigned crossings on Bernard street.

Rachel Street bike path bike-stop-lights: The city is removing the Bike-green-lights from this path, they only permitted 15 seconds of bike crossing, and were a major source of conflict between cars and bikes, as well, as you probably know, 94% of bike riders ignored them because well, there's a lot of idiots, and people who are "smarter" than the stop lights. Be careful on this bike path, there are 17,000 possible deadly accident posibilities here with so much car, bikeand foot traffic conflicts, and each one is trying to kill you.

Plateau to McGill through McGill Ghetto: Streets of Milton and Prince Arthur now have one way bike paths. Please don't be an idiot (how many times do I have to say this?) and follow the correct street's path for the direction you are travelling in. This also provides a safer bike path route to get to downtown core than before.

Pine-Park interchange: Coming soon! The completion of the Pine-Parc intersection redesign (from 1960's highway traffic underpass/overpass cloverleaf to urban intersection) will bring with it a connection to the clark street bike path. (it's a separate thing, but Duluth street now offers a safe pedestrian crossing of Parc Avenue to access Parc Mont Royal, before it was blocaded in the interests of public safety and no traffic light.

Recent NO BIKES signs:

-Overpass between Outremont and TMR going north. This one can use the sidewalk on west side to travel north. Reason: right turn only lane at north side of overpass, if you take roadway north, ride in middle of two lane to cross at light. WATCH out for cars doing stupid things. No turn signal does not mean car isn't turning, and also, a car in turning lane doesn't mean it is turning!

-Overpass of Autoroute 40 and Cote Vertu
WHen commuting west on autoroute 40 and taking cote vertu west to go, for instance, to Canadair or Air Canada or CAE or Autoroute Cote de Liesse westbound, there is a new no bikes sign when entering merge to access overpass. OK, it is tricky to enter traffic and smoothly and safely cross the overpass, because it is designed for cars to travel at high speed but bikes have right to use the overpass also, but as with bureaucracy everywhere, prohibiting something completely solves the problem right? Wrong. SO be careful when crossing the overpass and merging with cars. REMEMBER ALWAYS YIELD to the cars, don't die!!!!

Do you have any news about bike path improvements or any "NO BIKES" signs? email me or leave a comment.

Ride safe!

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Big south shore ride & Pont Mercier

I posted some new videos on Google Video - search google video for Cycle Fun Montreal

I rode from Pont Jacques Cartier Bridge to Pont Mercier Bridge along south shore bike path(s) yesterday. Some observations:

I rode across Pont Jacques Cartier along route verte #1 over the spiral bike overpass, and then took off right at big powerline green zone. This generally heads west and zigs and zags and dissappears and reappears in mysterious ways. I took this suburban path as far as Milan street, where I went north up to the riverside path. THen I headed west some more until path veers back into Longueuil at the power lines again through a scenci park area and then goes back to the riverside over a bikes-only bridge over autoroute 15. Then the bike path follows riverside more or less until town of Saint Catherine where you can get on to the path that goes along the seaway (cross bridge at Seaway Locks/recreo-parc). This path back along the seaway is one of the very best in montreal. I didn't take it this time.

For added adventure, and crappy conditions, the brave among us will continue to Pont Mercier Bridge along the busy highway of Route 132 west. At least it has a paved shoulder!

At the Mercier bridge the sidewalk in on the outbound lane of traffic. Bike access to the sidewalk is, um, challenging! The sidewalk dissapears between the end of the bridge proper and the flat ground for about 500 feet. Instead of walking along the busy roadside against traffic (if you ride here you will die) to get to the start of the siewalk climb up the hill under the foot of the bridge beside route 132 westbound.

Along the 132 at the Mercier Bridge you will go under the bridge, as you come out the otherside, you can climb up the embankment at the foot of the bridge, right under where the bridge starts to be elevated. There is a not-very-visible path here.

It's tricky, but a clever person will succeed.

Once on the bridge, pray for your safe crossing! The sidewalk is not maintained, dirty, and close to the busy traffic. During construction/repair periods this may NOT be possible as construction blocks the sidewalk.

Once back on the island there are two magnificent paths to use to get back to central Montreal, the Lachine Canal bike path, and the really beautiful riverside bike path that goes under the Mercier along the rivers edge.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Chateauguay Valley ride

I thought I'd mention a great close-to-montreal road cycling destination: the Chateauguay Valley of southwest quebec. This is a really fine, relaxed, scenic road riding area. I did it last weekend. I know it well, since all all my ancestors of the past two hundred years lived there since they cut down the trees, built their farms, and created the towns (You'll see town names change from French to English as you travel the route 138).

By doing a quite simple loop ride in this area ride you will:

-cover much of the region's highlights without too much distance

-have 2 simple options for a bit more distance

-without much difficulty in the hills department

-see some interesting ecological zones: Adirondacks foothills, exposed bedrock

-ride along the peaceful Chateauguay river)

-ride through cute little villages, with amenities

-have some great views of the St-Laurence river valley and its hills

-ride through quiet country roads

-ride past farms and forests (cows and forests and apple trees)

-ride on good pavement

-have only a short drive from Montreal (50 km from Mercier bridge).

-Have a great a great early season, mid season, or end of season ride!

The basic route can be easily expanded for a longer ride, but this is the basic version and I identify two options for a bit . There is a nice cycling map/route of the region called the "route des paysans" of which this ride does some parts. I like my version better. This around 50+ km without options.


Drive over Mercier Bridge to Ormstown on Rt 138 (straight through Chateauguay) - Arrive in Ormstown at first stop sign in many many miles, where you can park at the just-renovated IGA at intersection 138 & 201. (immediately when you arrive in Ormstown).

On bike:

continue on 138 about 1 mile, cross river and take first left - on 138A, follow "old highway" (route 138A past CVR high school), cross river at Dewittville (dep/cafe) and go right and left to go south to and through Rockburn (resto, no dep) and continue to T, (You are on top of Covey Hill a few hundred metres from US border), Turn left (east) and go through Franklin Centre (maybe a cafe, no dep) on crappy road to St-Antoine Abbe (resto/dep),

OPTION: to avoid bad Franklin-st-antoine road: turn right at franklin on 202 and in about 0.5km turn up the hill at cemetery; take first left, then turn right at the end of this road (back on 202) and go east along 202about a mile to intersection of 201/202, where you go left (north) downhill to St-Antoine, turn left to enter St-Antoine. (end of Option)

Original directions continues: turn (north) at church in St-Antoine and head across 202 to T intersection, turn right at T and follow this road (curves left/north in a few miles) on Montee de Rocher ("The Rock") past exposed bedrock and tiny village St-Pierre to T-intersection at Rte 138 (unmarked Brysonville), turn right (east) and go about a mile on highway, Turn left and cross to bridge at Allans corners. Turm left once across bridge in direction Ormstown.

OPTION: good option here for 20 km longer ride: turn right (east) at St-Pierre go to T intersection, turn left (north) towards Howick, go north through Howick (dep, bar) and cross Rte 138 and go left & right to take road immediately beside church/cemetary and go across the old closed bridge over the Chateauguay river, and turn left to go to Allans Corners (end of option)

Original directions continue... Go west past the battle of chateauguay museum (stop and at least read the extrenal signs, or take longer visit to see how 300 Canadians under de Salaberry fought and won against the 5700 Americans invading our country in war of 1812) and continue (west) to Ormstown along the river, past the Ormstown fair grounds, and through village back to IGA (turn left at United Church at end of main street.)


This is about 50km without the Howick or Franklin options (about 20km & 10 km more each).

Another quite similar route I do is sort of just shifted westward that follows the Chateauguay River past Huntingdon to Powerscourt (the only covered bridge in region and now restored) and back left (east) along border turning north to Rockburn and reversing the Rockburn and Dewittville sections above.