Saturday, June 16, 2007

Montreal's most scenic bike path

Les Berges - Montreal's best loop ride?

The Les Berges river-side bike path: Red dots
Lachine Canal: Blue dots
Atwater Market-Les Berges Connector path: Green Dots

The Les Berges bike path, which goes along the St-Laurence river and Lachine Rapids between the Champlain bridge/Nun's Island all the way to Lachine, is one of the best, most scenic, and continuously car-free in Montreal.

It is truly one of the great bike paths in the city.

The only hard part is making the on-road poorly-marked but "real bike path" connection between the Atwater Market and the path start/finish in Verdun, plus the road surface quality of this on-street section is often described as poor, terrible, or post-nuclear holocaust. But keep going, the Les Berges path is worth it, it is genuinely fantastic.

A bit more detail about this Atwater Market-Les Berges path linkup: Critically, there is a very poorly marked critical left turn at Boulevard Lasalle-Rue Henri Duhamel. I believe there is signage, but it is located well-before the critical intersection, and is easily missed. See this map detail for the critical route to get from Atwater to the Les Berges path (atarts across the road fom Canadian Tire at the baseball fields. The Big green dot is the critical intersection.

Big Green Dot = critical intersection

Interestingly, the Rue Henri Duhamel has been blocked so it is no longer an express car-route! The bike path on it has been inproved too: there was a bad intersection where the path changed sides of the road, with a "good luck getting safely across the intersection" design philosophy. This dangerous intersection has been eliminated, and this is a major improvement in cycling safety. Good Work, ville de Verdun.

Once you are on the Les Berges path, you will enjoy, enjoy, and enjoy some more. The path follows a green belt all along the St-Laurence river. It is 95% park land, there are lots of rest stops, including a floating-island pier and deck on the river itself!

The path continues along the river's edge through Verdun, Lasalle, and Lachine. At the west end in Lachine the path connects directly to the Lachine Canal, the beautiful Parc Rene Levesque, and the path west along Lakeshore boulevard (to Ontario!). This is also part of Route Verte #1. (IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: The Les Berges bike path passes beside but it does not yet connect to montreal's MISSING LINK: across the Pont Mercier bridge to the seaway bike path at St-Catherine lock (Ecluse). The Mercier is starting a two year reconstruction project, and we are promised a new bike path on this bridge).

An excellent loop ride involves going, in either direction, in the following loop:

Atwater-Market to Les Berges path
Les Bergers path complete
Parc Rene Levesque in Lasalle (loop ride on peninsula)
Lachine Canal to Atwater market.

It can be done either in an express-ride fashion for a good after work ride, or in an all day scenic lots-of-stops family ride.

And remember, always yield to the other, slower path users. Nothing is stupider than scaring pedestrians by being a crazy inconsiderate racer.

Surprising Path improvement: this is a typical two-lane bike path, sometimes with a separate foot path. But I noticed one section where the Les Bergres path is being widened to a three lane path (two lanes bike, one lane foot traffic). THIS IS A MAJOR SAFETY IMPROVEMENT. Keep going, make it all three lanes!


At 7:48 AM, Blogger saul_kravitz said...

Thanks for the tip. I just rode this route this morning, and found the entire path extremely well marked, and the pavement in excellent condition throughout. The shore portion, esp. the rapids is beautiful.


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