The "party in motion" that is the Tour de l'Île de Montréal took place Sunday, passing through seven boroughs and closing down dozens of streets to car traffic, as part of a series of cycling events this weekend in the city.
The Go Bike Montréal Festival included a daytime, one-way, 36-kilometre, no-cars route on Sunday, also known as the Tour de l'Île de Montréal. It drew about 19,000 participants, snarling traffic in the city.
"The event is such a celebration of safe cycling all around the city. Open streets, open for people of all ages," said Jean-François Rheault, president of Vélo-Québec, the organization behind the event.
"Being together, doing it as a group, you know, that's what people have been waiting for."
Roads were closed from about 8:45 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Participants needed to register and pay in advance to participate, but the event — which is not a race, but instead a tour of the city — was open to all ages.
Participants were encouraged to complete the loop at their own pace, finishing and starting from the same place. There was no specific starting or finishing point, but instead three access points for participants to enter — La Fontaine, MacDonald or Angrignon parks.
The three parks offered toilets, water, handwashing stations, information and first aid for the cyclists.
As part of the festival, there's also Tour la nuit, a 22-kilometre route through four boroughs, which took place from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m Friday. About 18,000 participants took to the streets.
Along with permanent employees and contractual workers, there were some 1,750 trained volunteers involved in bringing the festival to life.
The Tour de l'Île was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic. It was revived in 2021, but later in the season than usual. Traditionally, the event is held in June.
"We're very happy to welcome everyone," said Rheault before the event.
The festival attracts people who may be cycling on Montreal streets for the first time, enjoying the safety of closed streets, he said. It may also be the farthest a participant has ever ridden a bike at one time, he added.
Cycling is often a simple solution to complex problems such as the need to reduce traffic, get exercise and improve the environment, he said.
Montreal has made a lot of progress when it comes to improving bike paths and safety, "but we need better infrastructure to bring this to the next level," said Rheault.