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Is Montreal Still North America's Cycling Capital?

As bikes boom in Canada’s second largest city, advocates warn the city might not be taking safety seriously enough.
Montreal burst onto the cycling scene in the 1970s, thanks to the provocations of a few eccentric bike advocates. Here, cyclists ride in Montreal's 1976 Summer Olympic Games.
Montreal burst onto the cycling scene in the 1970s, thanks to the provocations of a few eccentric bike advocates. Here, cyclists ride in Montreal's 1976 Summer Olympic Games.AP Photo

That Montreal ever gained a reputation as a haven for bicyclists is somewhat improbable. There is a forested mountain in the middle of town. The weather dips below freezing nearly half the year. The streets are often covered in snow and ice. When they’re not, they’re in horrendous condition, thanks to the freeze-thaw cycle.

But bike lovers know Canada’s second-largest city as one of North America’s best cycling spots. Its roots in two-wheeled innovation run deep: Montreal built the continent’s first protected, on-street bike lane back in the early 1980s, and all but invented modern bike-sharing when Bixi came on the scene eight years ago.