Video: A View of NYC Cycling From Montreal

Noah and I are busy with meetings and the Stop Speeding Summit today, so posting may be a little light until the afternoon. I do have a couple of items to share, including this short video from I know the title is over-the-top and there’s some egregious wrong-way riding, but I like the outsider’s viewpoint you get in the vid — it was made by two guys from Montreal who think New York’s new bikeways are great and want to understand why the press makes such a fuss over them. Also, I got some experience being in front of the camera.

I asked the producer, Aki Pagratis, about how Montreal’s bike infrastructure has been received and how long it took for new street designs to become just another part of the city’s landscape. He wrote back:

A few years ago, several new bike lanes were installed and a new bike rental program was launched (Bixi). We now have over 5000km of bike paths and 4000-5000 Bixi-bikes on the island of Montreal and it seems like everyone is cycling someplace. There was a little bit of controversy in the first couple of weeks after bike lanes started to be constructed downtown. A few shop owners complained about the loss of business due to a lack of parking, but it was minor and didn’t last long. I think people in New York will eventually start to appreciate what enclosed bike lanes will bring to the city. I’m sure when you get a bike rental program, things will really turn around.

  • a cyclist

    my partner and i were in montreal 2 summers ago and the bike paths and bike share programs were great! we rode everywhere and one day used 5 different bikes to transport ourselves. only once in the evening when everyone was heading to a waterfront concert could we not easily pick/return a bike and once we p/u bikes instead of walking 4 blocks to our hotel.

  • Shemp

    Pretty gloomy piece

  • Danny G

    Pretty accurate. I am also a fan of that bike shop, the guys and gals that work there are kind folk.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    Aesthetically, I found it a little claustrophobic and odd that so many of the shots of bicyclists were shot from inside of a vehicle – even while not talking to the cabbie. On the other hand, the interviews with people in the cycling world were pretty nicely produced.

  • Sprooklyn

    First: Overall great video!

    Too bad that delivery guy was very noticeably going the wrong way on the protected bike path. Though subtle, it did help to illustrate the cab drivers point-of-view that you just can’t predict what they are going to do.

    On the other hand the bike shop employee was right – bikes are different tools and you can’t expect them to follow the EXACT same rules as an automobile. For example, seasoned bicyclists know that on unprotected streets its safer for them to run a red light (assuming turning and pedestrian traffic has cleared) and get ahead of the pack of cars. If our bicycle regulations were written by bikers then we would have a much more enforceable set of rules. Instead almost no rules are followed because in practice no rules apply.

  • PaulC

    Until the traffic laws are changed we as cyclist need to follow the laws, stopping at red lights, riding in the right direction in the bike lane, yielding for peds, and not doing crazy stuff that gets us hated on. Because when we don’t follow the rules it hurts our cause. Bloomberg and Sadi-Khan will only be in office for another four years, so we must act right to avoid the next administration from coming in and wanting to rip out our cycling infrastructure. I personally like bike lanes and I know a lot of other people that wouldn’t ride in the city if they did not exist. For those cyclist that don’t want to ride in them, don’t.

  • Paulc, stop it. Just stop. I’ve been hearing that same admonition from cycling advocates for the past fifteen years: “we need to follow the laws, and then they’ll stop hating us.” “We” are a diverse group, and most of “us” are not going to read your comments on this blog. The hate is not based on anything rational, it’s based on the fact that they see cyclists as “others” who are taking away their power. Even if we could convince every cyclist in the city to follow every law, the hate would still flow, and the backlash would still build.

    What we need to do is build a campaign to resist the nomination of any mayoral candidate who panders to the anti-bike hate. Democratic party bosses need to know that it’s a losing ticket to nominate another Bill Thompson. To do that, we need to back at least one candidate now for next year’s primary, and make sure that there’s a pro-bike alternative on the general election ballot no matter who wins the Democratic primary.

  • Adriana

    Great piece – Yes Montreal has quietly been forging ahead without much self-promotion, and is now finally starting to reap the benefits as the rest of the continent discovers what has been going on for years.

    What makes Bixi work so well is that in addition to a central city culture that has grudgingly accepted bicycles on the roads that do not have lanes, is the exceptional quality of Montreal’s downtown bike lanes.

    The bidirectional lanes in Downtown Montreal are not merely separated by space and paint, nor by removable planters, but by *permanent* 1 and half foot curbs, requiring major investment. They are built to stay.

    Elsewhere in the central city, bi-directional lanes are created by using car-parking to separate the cyclists from the cars. Instead of putting parking next to the sidewalk, there is space for both directions of bicycles (with a yellow line), and then the parked cars, and then the roadway traffic.

  • Biking is good source of exercise, but we cannot ride on a bike when going to party or hanging out with friends. Thats why Montreal Limousine Services offer you limousine for all party needs and celebrations.


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