Cycling

grafitti

I threw this page together and really didn't know where I was going with it. I felt I had to have something on cycling. I guess it's a trip or ride report on a few out of the way places with a few gems thrown in for fun.

Anyway, this little piece of Montreal back alley graffiti pretty well shows the direction green urban living is going. (It's odd to find English graffiti in the plateau district of Montreal).




trek 720

This is my Trek 720. OK, it's just a hybrid bicycle. The bike is just right for touring or exploring - where walking is too slow or far. It's good for getting on some trails that aren't too rough. I have had it for a few years and have had many a good time with it. I don't leave it anywhere long even when locked as it's too good to risk it. This is why I still have it.

I don't do long trips as I tend to get tired and sore much over 45 km. Still, I wore out the chain and gears. I have replaced everything on the frame except the handlebars.



big lock This is the minimum recommended lock for Montreal.

The bicycle tree taken to the extreme in Tokyo - i.e. serious bicycle parking...

dead bike Winter is real hard on bikes. Some don't make it for a variety of reasons.




There is a building body of knowledge to traffic engineering (AASHTO standards). It's not simple to design bike paths so that they work for everyone on the road in all cases. A Realistic Look at Bicycle Facilities, Laws and Programs by John S. Allen is a good place to start.

My bike has been around the country. I was able to bring it with me often enough to sample cycling in many cities in Canada and a few in the US. No, I don't ride from city to city, I bring it with me and use it to explore and sometimes avoid using a local taxi. The table below are my impressions of biking in different places.



My Experiences Cycling in Different Places

City/Town

Summary for Canada

Montreal, QC

In the last few years, Montreal has accepted the bicycle as a valid means of transportation even though we have a hard winter for 12 weeks or so. We now have some 500+ km of bike paths. Fairly easy to get into the downtown area. Traveling off any reserved paths is slightly more risky of course. We have the public bike system Bixi service which is well used and experiences little vandalism.

P'tit Train Du Nord, QC

This linear park is always a good bike ride because it's a world class trail. It's a 230km recycled Canadian Pacific Railroad right of way from Bois-des-Filion near Montreal to Mount-Laurier turned into a multi use path. It originally fostered the growth of the Laurentian tourist industry. The train used to take skiers and cottagers to the northern hills and lakes but its need was greatly reduced when highway 15 was built. Now the P'tit Train Du Nord is used for walking and biking in the summer. In the winter there is cross country skiing, snowmobiling in northern reserved areas and sometimes dog sledding. Some sections are very pretty. My favorite section is from Piedmont to Sainte-Adele but I have seen most of the lower section to Saint-Faustin. Stone dust surface in the south mostly and strangely, paved north of Labelle.

Quebec (City), QC

The old town is beautiful, historic and for the most part good for biking. The old town is built on a hill and some hills are steep. The harbor area is flat and easy to bike. Some reserved paths follow the river. You can ride up to the Chateau if you want. There are a good number of trails out of the city that I haven't tried.

Ottawa, ON

The Rideau Canal is ideal for biking and you can jump off to get into the city. Some loop paths to downtown.

Northern Ontario Towns

In the towns is pretty good, usually traffic is light and respectful. Watch out of you get onto the highway, drivers are not used to seeing bicycles on the highway in the middle of nowhere.

Wawa, ON

Easy bike from airport to downtown - such that it is. You can bike to the falls or the kayak center - gravel road and a good sized hill back to town.

St John's, NF

The airport is on a hill, ride down to the city, its a haul to get back up it again. The old town area is good for biking and poking around the harbor. The harbor is nearly perfect, narrow entrance, deep and opens to a good sized area. Signal hill is very close to downtown. The first transatlantic wireless message sent from Cornwall England was received here by Marconi in 1901.

Vancouver, BC

Stanley park is great but busy, false creek area good, Granville island can be fun if small. The bridges to Granville - you should stick to the sidewalk. Downtown can be hilly and busy. Vancouver is mostly snow free - it could be a serious biking city very soon. Lots of paths seem to cover the metro area well. A lot of paths are simply roads painted and shared with cars.

Edmonton, AB

Grid city layout, flat, easy to avoid most traffic. The North Saskatchewan river area is nicest. Lots of city paths don't really connect well - yet. This is a pretty boring town overall, gateway to the north of course. Fly into Edmonton City Center airport and you are right in the city. I biked to the Edmonton mall - I couldn't resist. The mall is sort of Disney Land with too many shops and no Goofy.

Yellowknife, NT

Fairly easy to bike in, some easy hills. A large percentage of paths made for such a small town. Stay away from the trucks however! I found some drivers only brake for larger trucks. Bike to Pilot's Monument, Max Ward's Bristol Monument near the airport or down to the old town to see the famous Ragged Ass Road etc.

Whitehorse, YT

The airport is on a ridge and the Alaska highway runs right by it. It is a good climb from downtown up 2 mile road to the airport. Downtown (OK, it has maybe 5 avenues and 10 streets total) forces you to merge with cars and trucks and is a pain or outright dangerous. Saw one aggressive biker get knocked down by a car (but walked away). Where else can you find the Yukon river and the Alaska highway so close? If you're here...

Yorkton, SK: Brandon, MB

More than a couple of Canada's western small towns are still just like the fictional Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show of the 1960's. It would take only an hour to stage these towns to be 1930 or 1940 or 1950 - nothing much has changed but the cars and farm machinery. No bike paths but easy to get around. It may be a better idea to get to a park outside of town and do some trail biking

Whitecourt, AB

Awful anywhere on highway not right in town. Roads have no shoulder or soft sand shoulders, bad for cars too. Thanks Mr Klein.

Nelson, BC

Steep hills, small downtown. Nowhere to go really. You could say I biked Nelson.

Thunder Bay, ON

OK place, drivers more courteous than a big city. Can bike downtown from airport. Most of the city is situated north and up against the lake from the airport.

Toronto, ON

Fly into City Center (Billy Bishop) Airport and bike out - a blast. Half of the paths are unprotected street paths and disjointed segments as they are really just getting serious about the bicycle now. A fair amount of politics is involved. Harbor front area has nice bike path and can get to Toronto Outer Islands via Bike/Ferries easily. Forget biking in busy downtown Toronto unless your young, quick and immortal.





City/Town

Summary for USA

Cape May, NJ

About 15 easy blocks to amusement area from airport, flat of course being the beach, easy biking anywhere, slow traffic. Boardwalk available for bicycles anytime before noon. I have never reserved a room during the week but its necessary any weekend or holiday in the summer.

Cape May, Maryland

The cycle to the beach/boardwalk involves a bit of highway riding.

Cape Cod, MA

One of gods gifts to the cyclist and other outdoor activities too. Lots of trails through the dunes. Provincetown very bike friendly just because its so tight - cars can't do more than 15 mph.

Atlantic City, NJ

Sin City, East. Bader Field was very close to the boardwalk so you could walk it. Lots of traffic for the short bike ride. The city took a bad lesson from the corrupt Mayor Daily, Bader field is now closed since 2007 but still no development. Bader Field was the world's first "airport," having been referred to as such by a reporter in 1919. I'm glad I went when I had a chance.

College Park, MD

I went once before 9/11. The metro is a 15 minute walk away to access the mall. Didn't bike here at all but could have - should have. The reason I even mention it is that it's now impossible - special rules to get into CGS. I'll never get to try cycling out of this airport.

Plum Island. MA

Plum Island is a 6-mile long barrier beach that extends south of Newburyport, MA. Most of it makes up the Parker River Wildlife Refuge. Cycle down from the airport to the beach in 15 minutes and lock it to a utility pole. Easy ride - some highway but you get easy beach access. Ride into town is easy as well.

Block Island, RI

Another one of gods gifts, the whole island is ideal for cycling in the summertime. The island is large enough to need a bicycle or scooter. The main loops in the island are paved. Traffic is light and slow and no real threat. There are dirt roads to homes where motorized scooters are not allowed. These may be ridden by bike but some may be rough for an unsprung bicycle.


Chicago, IL

I'll never know as I won't ever go to Chicago because Daily destroyed Meigs Field in 2003.

Nantucket, MA

You can always bike Nantucket. Watch out for the Kennedy clan!


Key West, FL

A fun holiday town, perfect for cycling or motor scooters. Great anywhere until you get on the Overseas Highway 1 to leave the area. Stay on the island and chase the roosters around, bike to Sloppy Joe's or Harry Truman's little white house. Some of the older homes are really outstanding.


(You can click and check out MapMyRide yourself - they load and run too slow to have more than a couple of them embedded)

Future destinations: Manhattan Greenway? Maybe Paris?


Updated: March 3, 2011