So have it has been a year that I'm using bike as mean of transportation in Montreal!
This is a report / review of such an adventure, hopping these lines can be useful for anyone who is considering urban biking.
Biking in the city has allowed me to explore better my arrondissement and others around. It gives a more complete vision of the people who live around, the local business, parks, pets, streets names, other cyclist, etc; this really enhances the community feeling, helps with local geography and, and as expected it brings all the benefits that are associated with an active life.
It was spring 2022, we just moved to (Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie). This put me in an strange commute situation: while public transportation is good and frequent around home, commute to work takes quite long time, not because it was a long distance, but because there is not a direct route, so it meant too many transfers. Looking for options, I realized that BIXI stations were available near home and work, and Montreal biking infrastructure is pretty awesome, then I decided to give it a try.
Dots (any color) are BIXI stations, blue lines are bike paths.
Click for full map.
Lucky me, most of bike route is flat and not too long, around 5 km one way. However, due to a not-that-good physical condition, the first few weeks were not exactly a ride in the park. It took me around one month of 3 or 4 rides of per week to get used to it. In retrospective, starting in spring has the weather as advantage as it provided natural cooling. Even before the adaptation period, biking became an important part of my routine that seemed to be missing. Moreover, biking served also as a "buffer" between home and work, to have a clear mind at arriving work and, a cool down period when going home. As summer advanced, I was biking all around regardless the weather, not only for commute but to going out with friends, errands, exercise rides, etc. Also tried the electric bikes and although they are effortlessly fast, I stuck with normal bikes. Fall came and passed quickly, and with it the BIXI session was almost over. As expected, in those almost 8 months of biking, I obtained a in better physical condition, lost few kilograms and kept some money in the wallet (sorry STM).
Stop biking after the end of the BIXI session seemed imminent, but there is winter biking! After reading and watching reviews (here, here, here, here and few more ), I decided to give it a try, after all in Quebec winter is part of life. Although I'd never done winter bike, I've a bit of experience in outdoors activity in winter and that helped to determine the adequate clothing plan, it's all about layers. Finally, the most important, I got a bike and gear for winter, which meant a bike for commute with winter tires with spokes (like these) and lights (night falls quite early). Many people I know were surprised (and a bit worried) of me doing winter bike. In my experience, it sounds harder and more dangerous than what it is, at least in my case as, I've access to commonly used (and cleaned) bike paths, also I was able to work from home in very rough days. However, I tried to be on the road as much as possible.
To BIXI or not BIXI? This is a small list of pros and cons:
- Accessible (around $100 CAD per season)
- Not have to be worried about bike thieves
- Maintenance free
- One-way trips: go by bike, return by other mean
- All equipped, lights, fenders, basket, bell
- Bike availability: it's hard to find bike on a nice Saturday
- Station availability: stations get full quickly around busy spots
- Different bike every time
- Sturdy bike: heavy and slow
After weights these points, I'll be using my own bike all year long as suits better my needs needs.
Is BIXI worth it? Absolutely! It's amazing to discover urban biking. I recommend it to any person I can :)
Winter biking is not as hard with the proper gear and infrastructure around.
People tend to drive slower and with more precaution during winter, which helps commute by bike
After this year, I'm very happy with bike and all the positive things that have come with it, I hope I can continue using bike as mean of transportation for the years to come 🚲