Montreal has to be one of the most bike-friendly cities on the planet – certainly, at least, in North America. There are bike lanes throughout the city, and those using them don’t seem to have the fear found in other major metropolitan areas. Bike lanes are wide and bidirectional, so you don’t need to worry about clipping another rider.
If you want to become part of the cycling scene in Montreal, your first stop should be (obviously) to one of the many stores that rents bikes, unless you’ve brought your own. Prices vary with bike and location, but you shouldn’t have a problem finding the right saddle to carry you around. Also, be sure to rent a helmet. Though I saw quite a few cyclists riding around the city without them, it isn’t a good idea.
For those in need of a quick fix, take a look at the BIXI bikes located all over Montreal. They operate a bit like Zipcars in the United States. Pay with a credit card, and the bike is unlocked from the stand. Ride where you want to ride, and return the bike at the nearest BIXI stand. Your credit card will be charged based on how long you used the bike. This option has become incredibly popular, and it’s not unusual to see an empty BIXI stand (though this will probably become less likely when winter hits).
A nice touch, the BIXIs are environmentally friendly, powered by solar energy.
When you have your wheels, pedal over to La Maison des Cyclistes, across from Lafontaine Park. Grab some coffee or (smarter) some water in the front, which is a café. Maybe grab a snack for later. Then, at the back of the café, you’ll find a Velo Quebec location. In addition to carrying bicycling accessories, they have maps and information guides on hand to help you plan your route. Feel free to ask for help; Velo Quebec is committed to putting wheels on the road two at a time.
Finally, you’re ready to ride!
Whether you decide to stick to the bike paths or cut your own through Montreal, keep an eye on traffic (it’s always an issue), and follow the rules of the road. If nothing else, this is good cycling etiquette, and it’s something the locals do take seriously. With enough biking space offered, there’s no reason to break the rules. Be sure to take the bike path over by the port; the views are nothing short of spectacular.
Disclosure: Tourisme-Montreal picked up the tab for this trip, but my views are my own.