A couple weeks ago, I had the chance to spend two days cycling and walking around the city, collecting images for the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre. Here are some of my pictures and some of my thoughts about the city.
My quick jaunt at the end of April
I went to Quebec City for work at the end of April. While I was mostly indoors and did not get a chance to explore, I did get to walk around Vieux Québec. What I found most remarkable was the mix of French and Scottish architecture, sometimes on the same street (which I saw all the more because I was wandering around with a Scotsman).
Quebec City has incredible bicycle paths, so I was lucky that both my lift to and from Quebec City were with people who have bike racks (thank you, AmigoExpress). I biked along the St-Charles River and to the Chute to Montmorency. The bicycle paths are wide and often separated from traffic, although they are more recreational than utilitarian.
I noticed two things that are different from Montreal’s cycling infrastructure. First, cyclists cross intersections at the same time as pedestrians, since bike paths are shared with pedestrians and runners. Also, pedestrians never cross at the same time as cars in Québec. When it is the turn of pedestrians, cars are stopped and when the cars are moving, pedestrians cannot cross. While the intention must be to eliminate conflict and reduce accidents, it means that pedestrians wait an incredible amount of time before they can cross. The second thing I noticed was that Québec has Vancouver-style crossing buttons that cyclists can use to request that the traffic signal change. Unlike pedestrian buttons up on the sidewalk, these buttons are at arm’s reach from one’s bicycle so that cyclists need not dismount and climb up onto the sidewalk to use them.
Sitting on a piece of history
Something I love about Québec is the use of the ramparts. Young people often sit on them, sometimes picnicking or reading. It is fascinating to see people use such historic elements of the city for day-to-day activities.
La calle de la muerte, Québec edition
I was already at the Chute to Montmorency so I figured “why not bike over the bridge to l’Île d’Orléans?” I got directions and started biking over the bridge, but soon realized why I was the only cyclist on the road. The bridge is narrow, with just enough room for two lanes of traffic and a small sidewalk on both sides. The road and the bridge were jammed with traffic (I imagine people returning from a weekend of strawberry-picking). I ended up biking across the bridge and halfway up the hill before deciding to turn around and head back to Québec. I will have to visit another time.
I had some fun while I was in Québec taking pictures of benches in the city that I found no one was using – and for good reason. Some were broken, others were made of dark metal (and sitting under the blazing sun), others were covered in graffiti and one was even installed on a slope. Here are some of the best examples of the worst benches.
Sainte-Foy: The suburbs are just a hop, skip and a small bike ride away
I could not believe the incredible difference between the central and historic neighbourhoods of St-Roch, St-Jean-Baptiste, le Vieux-Québec and the suburb of Sainte-Foy, where I went to get my lift home and where the Université Laval campus can be found. The suburbs are alive and well in Québec.