Tour de l'Ile bike event delights cyclists, irritates motorists
MONTREAL - There were so many people on their bikes for the 27 th annual Tour de l'Ile bike ride Sunday that some had to wait an hour just to start pedaling at the starting line.
The ride attracted around 25,000 riders over the 52-kilometre route. An additional 2,600 volunteers got in gear helping out with the effort which sees cyclists take over roads usually dominated by vehicular traffic.
As usual, the ride delighted bike riders but led to bellyaching amongst inconvenienced motorists on Sunday from 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
There was at least one crash during the ride. See the pictures here.
Among those participating was bicycle-enthusiast Geoff Kelley whose day job is Native Affairs Minister in the provincial government. He notes that the young people have it easier than his generation.
"They keep making it shorter, when we started it was 75 kilometers, now it's 55," he said.
The ride is not a race but the rider who finished the course first was pretty happy with the result nonetheless.
"I wanted to be in the front group and then take it from there," said first-to-finish participant Mike Jams.
The ride launched from Parc Avenue and proceeded through the Plateau, Petit Patrie, Park-Extension, Cote des Neiges, Lasalle, Verdun, Ville Marie, TMR and Westmount (see link below for map).
The ride was the second such event this weekend.
On Friday from 7 p.m., Montreal cars had to cede their place on the roads to bicycles as 17,000 people got on their bikes and took over the city's streets. They rode off from Lafontaine Park on a 20-kilometer ride throughout the city on streets closed to cars for the event.
The cyclists rolled from the Plateau through downtown and the West End and roads were reopened following the Tour la Nuit at about 10:30 p.m.
The ride is a top annual event for the bicycle-favouring population but for motorists it can be one of many street-closure headaches.
Other inconveniences to motorists and bus-riders on the weekend included roadwork on the Champlain Bridge.
Combined with widespread street closures on Friday night and Sunday for bicycle tours, it was a weekend to plan ahead before hitting the streets. This year the evening ride went through downtown Montreal, St. Henri and Little Burgundy, with riders travelling on both sides of the Lachine Canal.
Multiple streets were off limits to cars as of 7 p.m., and began re-opening to motorized traffic after 10:30 p.m
The cyclists headed south from LaFontaine Park along Berri, then zigzagged along de Maisonneuve, St. Laurent, Rene Levesque, St. Pierre, St. Antoine, and McGill until they reached William street.
Then they went west, onto St. Ambroise, over the canal near St. Remi, then looped around de L'Eglise and returned along St. Patrick and Wellington, then northeast to Berri, left on Roy to Jeanne Mance Park.