Welcome to Part 6 in the series "What I learned in Montréal," documenting the day trip a friend and I took in May to check out Montréal's cycling and transit infrastructure for lessons that can be applied in Ottawa. Previously, in Part 5, I talked about the aesthetic aspects of the Métro stations.
In today's post, I'll talk about how Montréal integrates its subway system with its cycling network. Bicycles are allowed on metro cars, but they must use the front car, as indicated by these yellow decals on the platforms.
As these "Bienvenue aux vélos" signs indicate, they are permitted all day on weekends, and on weekdays between 10am and 3pm, then from 7pm to midnight. The sign also lists other restricted hours for special events, and includes a general warning that bicycles may be refused at any time if it gets too busy:
We only saw two bicyclists on the Saturday that we were there, though we didn't check out the front car, which can be a long walk from the stairs, as this cyclist demonstrates in Outremont:
That cyclist took the escalator, but the fixie-rider in this photo at Berri-UQÀM opted instead for the stairs. The unicyclist was indecisive.
At many stations, cyclists can't get through the turnstiles, and instead must get the attention of the ticket clerk to remotely open one of these gates.
Unfortunately, these gates are often far from the ticket booth. Here in Côte-Vertu, the ticket booth is off camera, to the left of the turnstiles. At one station, the ticket person was so engrossed in her crossword that the cyclist couldn't get her attention; we had to knock on her window to get her attention on his behalf.
Outside the stations, there is limited bicycle parking. Here at Lionel-Groulx, you can make out some racks on the other side of the glass. They're obviously difficult to get to, which is good for deterring thieves, but inconvenient, I'm sure, for cyclists. I don't know if the rack was empty because it was a weekend, or because it was too far out of the way.
At Outremont, there were some more bike racks which had a number of flaws: they aren't bolted to the ground, they aren't spaced conveniently, and they aren't covered by a canopy. (see my June 2009 post on Bike Rack Blunders in Ottawa. Also, the APBP has released the second edition of its Bicycle Parking Guidelines, available to non-APBP members for $45. The first edition remains free for download). There is also a Bixi station around the corner.
There are a few lessons for Ottawa, many of which are already a part of our Transitway and O-Train infrastructure. Good, secure, weather-protected bicycle parking is important at our major stations--especially those outside the downtown core. Elevators will be helpful for cyclists getting to the surface. Transit stations should also include room for bike rental stations, to help fill in the "last mile" of the trip.
Stay tuned for the next post in the What I learned in Montréal series: Part 7: Bixis and Bicycle Parking.