Viewpoint : March 2015

The snow will eventually melt away…
But winter biking is here to stay!

The second edition of Vélo sous zéro, held in Montréal on February 15, was a great success, despite the intense cold that dampened the enthusiasm of many participants. While last year’s event made headlines for its originality and zaniness, this year’s event was marked by the presence of several local politicians (notably, Montréal Mayor Denis Coderre, but also Plateau–Mont-Royal Borough Mayor Luc Ferrandez, as well as the City’s Executive Committee members responsible for sports, leisure and transportation, Jim Beis and Aref Salem) who have taken up the cause for winter biking, thereby clearly demonstrating that this activity is part of Montréal’s culture. When asked on television why cyclists were allowed to circulate in Montréal during the winter, Mayor Coderre replied that Montréal is a cycling capital, it owns and maintains a white network and citizens just have to get used to it!

The media are gradually abandoning their alarmist tone and accepting the fact that the 50,000 winter cyclists in Montréal (statistic taken from Bicycling in Québec in 2010) are actually quite astute. Talk to them and you will realize that they see little difference between cycling in winter and cycling in milder weather – apart from the icy streets, of course. They will tell you that winter biking still offers freedom, independence, savings and speed.

The other goods news is that the Montréal Mayor is talking a lot about physical fitness these days. He is currently taking the 5/30 Health and Wellness Challenge and hopes to be in shape for the next Tour de l’Île de Montréal. How wonderful to see a politician promoting the accessible practice of biking and inviting others to follow his lead. And he’s not alone! Most Québec cities have mayors and elected officials who are committed cyclists and realize that biking is popular and that citizens appreciate good cycling facilities. I invite you to seek out these cycling allies among your municipal representatives and encourage them, if you haven’t already, to become strong advocates for biking in their city.

Happy March cycling!

Suzanne Lareau
President and CEO