Viewpoint : May 2014

The Tour de l’Île has changed Montréal

The Tour de l’Île de Montréal is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The creation of this mass event, holder of a Guinness World Record with 45,000 participants, has proven a successful initiative on the part of Vélo Québec, in addition to being a very timely one. In 1985, Montréal had 140 km of bike paths, Jean Drapeau was in power and cyclists armed with placards were demonstrating in the streets for a better cycling infrastructure and the right to bring their bikes into the metro.

Today, biking is part of Montréal and Québec political discourse. Montréal has an active transportation division, which is mandated to integrate biking into the urban landscape and offers 650 km of bikeways. BIXI accounts for over 4 million bike trips per year. The bike paths are invaded by thousands of cyclists at rush hour – to the point of creating a saturation problem and the need to add new routes. In short, the bicycle now has its place in the city, even though much work remains to be done to increase the cyclist safety and friendliness.

Created at the request of Minister Guy Tardif to inaugurate the cycling network of Montréal’s east end in 1985, the Tour de l’Île de Montréal has since introduced over a million people to the joys of biking in the city and fueled a pro-cycling movement throughout Québec. The event’s relaxed, festive atmosphere is a reminder that the bike is an accessible, useful and eminently democratic mode of transportation and recreation.

In 30 years, the Tour de l’Île has helped changed the city and the perception of urban biking. It is an event that has grown with the cycling movement and that is now a proud part of the Montréal festival culture. Join us on June 1st for a rare opportunity to bike in a city without cars!