Viewpoint : April 2013

Welcome to Vélo Urbain!

This week, Vélo Québec launched it new magazine Vélo Urbain. We have come a long way since 1975, when the oil crisis hit North America and voices calling for the bicycle to be recognized as an urban vehicle started making themselves heard. Vélo Québec, then a young association promoting biking as a form of recreation, quickly grasped the importance of taking up this message and shouting it loud and clear. By changing its name from Fédération québécoise du cyclotourisme to Vélo Québec, our association firmly established itself as the promoter of biking as a recreational activity and a mode of transportation in Québec. Through this broad-spectrum message, we made the case that biking is unique, and that it differs from skiing, canoeing and sail boarding, which are terrific sports but cannot play a role in utilitarian travel.

And so the urban bike concept was born. It was the beginning of a major battle pitting hippies against "modern citizens", who saw the car as a symbol of personal freedom. As the years passed, these hippy urban bike lovers, sometimes original, sometimes enlightened, quietly became people who were both irritating and entertaining, but ultimately, very relevant. And this is where it gets interesting, since the bicycle used for transportation purposes became, at the same time, a global reality: in Québec of course, but also in Northern Europe, Scandinavia and gradually throughout the planet.

The launch of Vélo Urbain reflects the obvious passion for urban biking at the turn of this 21st century. Since 1975, much has been done in Montréal and Québec to promote urban biking. We have seen the arrival of popular cycling events, the development of city bike paths, the meteoric success of Bixi here and abroad and, above all, the palpable presence of a biking culture that has continued to develop and gain supporters here over the past few years.

Montréal is not very popular these days. In fact, all Montrealers are having trouble with their city. But the fact remains that when we look at the situation of the Montréal cyclist, there can be no mistaking that we still have a good lead on American cities. One more reason to continue our efforts to preserve this undeniable asset, since North American cities are gradually realizing the formidable potential of having many of their citizens commuting on two wheels and are moving forward.

Vélo Urbain is a free magazine that demonstrates, like everything else, the entrenchment of a dynamic bike culture in our Québec reality. It’s up to you to discover it and help us enhance it. We are beginning modestly in 2013 with 2 issues, but hope to move up to 4 next year.

Happy start to the cycling season!