|This is how to do it. Underpass in the city centre. One|
car lane removed, protected bike lane added.
What's fascinating about the Montreal bike network is that everyone uses it - serious road bikers, parents and children and lots of people using mobility scooters or wheelchairs. And it seems to work for everyone.
The routes are well sign-posted and they really do stretch for mile after mile after mile.
What's more, this is the home of the Boris bike. The London cycle hire bikes are from Montreal. They use the same bikes here, dubbed 'bixi'. So you can literally compare like for like. The only difference is that cycling exactly the same bike in Montreal is a complete breeze compared to London.
Not everything is perfect. This is not a Dutch-quality cycling experience. And the bike lanes aren't much use in the depths of a Canadian winter. But this is a high quality network that has been built massively more cheaply than the blue paint of London's cycle super highways but to a much higher specification that actually works.
|Bike lane approach to junction|
And that's exactly how things should be. Kids, mums, dads, grans, fit, unfit, sporty. Everyone and anyone was up and about using their bicycles.
It's particularly interesting to compare Montreal's bike lanes with the set-up in London and to look at London from North American eyes.
|Bike lanes good enough for wheelchair users|
"Like a runner or a swimmer, you would need to be physically fit. Like a goalie or a boxer, you should be prepared for close calls. But if you are coming to London's Summer Olympics - and you have what it takes - using a bicycle could be a great option in a city bracing for gridlock."
Compare and contrast. In Montreal, you have a network that encourages literally everyone to get on a bike. Yet when a US newspaper takes a cool-headed look at cycling in London, what does it conclude? If you're an average mum or dad, don't cycle here. If you're a child, don't cycle here. If you're old or infirm, don't cycle here. The exact opposite of what's happening in cities like Montreal.
|Boris bikes at home in Montreal - home of the|
Bixi bike. Same bike, different sponsors
|Motor vehicles: give way to people on bikes please|
And for that, I blame the Mayor and Transport for London. We are still designing cycle super highways that operate only at peak hours and are woefully inadequate when you compare them with what's being built in New York or Montreal.
London has exactly the same cycle hire bikes as Montreal. And now New York is launching its cycle hire scheme. Exactly the same bikes. And both cities are building extensive cycle networks with big, protected cycle lanes, priority for people on bikes at junctions. They're doing it right. London bought the bikes and then left Londoners to go play with the motor cars. I think that's wrong.