Car free (bicycle costly?) day.

Some poles and a u-lock should do

Some poles and a u-lock should do

Today is car-free day.  In Montréal, a few streets downtown are closed to motorists.  It’s also raining.  If I harken back to grade 12 English, I believe this is pathetic fallacy.  You see, Montréal is often toted as one of Canada’s most bicycle-friendly cities.  We have the Bixi bike share programme, and the city has spent a fair bit of money on cycling infrastructure.  For that, city officials should be lauded.

The problem, however, is the car culture in Montréal. Drivers are in hurry, and they are angry. Perhaps the inability to turn right on reds is the straw that breaks their collective (humped) backs. Regardless, motorists are at best indifferent to, and at worst infuriated by cyclists.  But, today a few blocks of the city are ours.  Will we use them? Well, as I said, it’s raining.

In Toronto, car free day news coverage is tepid.  In fact, The Star has a story about the expense of facilitating cyclists on the GO transit system.  You see, GO went to the effort of installing expensive bicycle stations so that commuters could leave their bikes at the station and feel secure.  And, not surprisingly, these stations are being under-used.  This is because cyclists need multi-modal bicycle transportation.  We want to ride to the train, bring our bikes with us, and then ride to the office.  An expensive bicycle shelter does nothing, really.  I feel perfectly safe with a quality U-lock and a sturdy (capped) pole.  While the luxury of secure parking is nice, I’d much rather keep my bike with me.

Transportation with a bicycle will always be a challenge, but small steps are good steps.  TTC buses in Toronto have racks, and VIA rail’s pilot programme “bike train” seems to be doing well.  As of October, cyclists can take their bikes on trains from Montreal to Toronto.  But what about Montreal to Ottawa? Ottawa to Toronto?  I don’t expect to be allowed to bring a bicycle on the train as is, but when I break my bike down it’s not too much bigger than an oversized suitcase.  This should be okay, no?

Yes, it’s car free day.  But bicycles still seem to get the short end of the stick.  And the cars keep honking outside my window.

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