In a few days, as Yves Montand used to sing, “Nous partirons de bon matin” (we shall leave early in the morning) on the 35th Tour de l’Île. When we look back at the status of biking in Montréal and Québec at the time of the first tour in 1985, there is no question that we’ve come a long way. First of all, the use of bicycles has exploded, not only in the central core of Montréal, but also that of many other cities. In fact, a recent Origin-Destination survey of the metropolitan area of Québec City confirms a sharp increase in biking in the national capital.
But there’s more. The Tour de l’Île de Montréal was a veritable social marketing machine, which, once launched, took on a life of its own. An invitation to get your bike out of the garage led to the creation of other cycling events throughout Québec. Now, rarely does a spring or summer weekend go by without a biking activity taking place somewhere in the province. After several successful years of attracting up to 45,000 participants, there is no denying the impetus that the Tour de l’Île has given to cycling in Québec. Thirty-five tours later, the spirit of this event remains the same: to get on your bike, celebrate this wonderful invention and gently remind our elected officials that our cities should be designed for people – not cars.
While it is true that, over the past 35 years, Québec has set itself apart from other regions in North American through investments in protected bike facilities, the fact remains that the rate at which the cycling network is developing today no longer meets the demand. With the imminent influx of e-bikes, scooters and the like, it is high time to rethink road sharing in order to make way for gentler, slower modes of travel that may well rival the solo car.
When I see gigantic road infrastructure projects like the construction of the new Champlain Bridge or the dismantling of the Bonaventure Autoroute, costing millions of dollars and completed within unbelievably short deadlines, I am always amazed at how little is invested in biking and how long it takes for cycling projects to materialize. Yes, we’ve come a long way, but this is no time to rest on our laurels! The challenges are enormous, while the popularity of biking continues to grow.
President and CEO