Having just assumed my new position on February 1, I am very proud and excited to be addressing the large Vélo Québec community. I would like to begin by acknowledging Suzanne Lareau’s outstanding contribution to the management of Vélo Québec, as well as to the advancement of the biking cause in Québec. On a more personal level, I would like to thank her for her time, generosity and geniality in handing over the reins and explaining the many issues and challenges related to the biking cause and the organization. Thank you Suzanne.
Like many Quebecers, I feel a strong attachment to Vélo Québec. I have wonderful memories of the Tour de l’Île and the incredible feeling of freedom and joy biking through a car-free city. For me, joining the Vélo Québec team and being able to contribute to the growth of cycling in Québec is a true honour.
Biking is an amazing catalyst for transforming cities and territories, as well as the people who live there. Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to witness many of the world’s major cities being transformed by the increased number of citizens travelling by bike. Paris is probably the most striking example. Today, Place de la République and Place de la Bastille, the voies sur berges and the Champs-Elysées – mainly dominated by cars in the past – are now making way for pedestrians, cyclists and trees. Cities like New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, as well as Houston and Calgary – oil capitals – are following suit by establishing a network of bike paths in their downtown cores. Even the Chinese are getting back into biking. The movement is strong and global. And it’s not limited to major cities. In Québec, for example, Drummondville was just designated a silver-level BICYCLE FRIENDLY community. Very inspiring.
There is every indication that 2021 will be all about cycling: surging bike sales and anticipated shortages; growing popularity of all-season biking, mountain biking, gravel biking and fatbiking; and increased number of urban cycling infrastructure projects. And since 2021 is also a municipal election year in Québec, biking is bound to be part of the upcoming debates. I believe the time has come to elevate the debate. Rather than questioning whether or not to implement cycling facilities, we must hold constructive discussions about developing the best possible bicycle infrastructure in the interest of all citizens.
Cycling is a powerful tool for tackling the challenges we face. It helps reduce our impact on the environment, promote our physical and mental wellbeing, support the local economy and develop sustainable tourism. It is time for us to develop ambitious plans for promoting biking throughout Québec.
President and CEO