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The myths of biking in Montreal by Erjy Kolaskin

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Biking is good for your health
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If you're a U0 or U1 student, you probably believe that Montrealers have been zipping-by on bikes since forever. But nothing is further from the truth. Just a few years ago (something like 3), the only people crazy enough to regularly bike on the street of our city were bike couriers. Fast forward to today, and everyone from your grand-ma to your boyfriend, bikes back and forth between the library and the neighbourhood bar.

How did this massive change come about? Believe it or not, but for once the city of Montreal did something right. It all started with projects like the Lachine Canal bike-path, and really happened when the de Maisonneuve bike path was built and the Bixi system landed in Montreal.

Yes, when the de Maisonneuve bike path came along I was quite upset. The only thing I could think about was all the wasted parking space. Today, I'm a new man: I understand that this bike-path has allowed thousands of people to travel through downtown safely on their bikes.

But enough with the historical thoughts on Montreal's biking culture. Lets get to the down and dirty truth about biking on our streets.

If you're not on a single-speed, you're nothing.
This is the first myth I want to debunk. Single-speeds are cool, they're light and give you more power when pedaling (because of the lack of gears). But if your riding one just for the look of it, then you're probably a loser. Especially if you're driving a custom-made shinny-brand-new and super-expensive single speed. Then you're a total douchebag. Single speeds are supposed to be old and primitive. The best single speeds are converted old road bikes.

Biking is just for hippies and tree-huggers.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Every morning, I see people in suits riding their bikes, grand-ma's cruising along and young punks getting from nowhere to nowhere. Biking is a means of transportation, not a political statement.

Biking is no fun, driving and road-rage is much better.
Maybe for some people it is, but I am quite sure that the vast majority would prefer a nice bike ride to a drive on a jam-packed and lunatic Sherbrooke street.

When you think about it, there are many good reasons to bike, and few not to. The old guard might tell you about how biking protects the environment by reducing the usage of cars. But the real reasons to bike are actually:

  • It keeps your butt firm
  • It's cheaper than going around town in a taxi
  • When your hipster friends from Brooklyn show up, you must be able to stand your grounds

Enough babbling about bicycles, get your priorities straight, leave your car at home, and mount your bike. You'll see how much better it is to ride in the fresh morning than to sit and wait in a car, packed bus or overflowing metro.

Just don't drink and bike.

Image credit: The Bike Tube

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