Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Le pourquoi du comment: some background

Ever since I began exploring the internet for cycling information, the virtual cycling community has never ceased to amaze me for its dynamism and resourcefulness. Places like Portland, San Francisco and others were being celebrated to no end as cycling heavens.
However, sometimes, some things would just so ring wrong in my ears: as a regular Montreal cyclist, details from these descriptions would simply not balance out... little tidbits of no individual importance but which collectively created a cognitive dissonance in the back of my head.
Somehow, the more I explored the blogosphere, the greater that cognitive dissonance became, as I read countless bloggers wax on lyrics about achievements that sounded so trivial... to me.
“Woohoo!! They've painted the second bike lane of the city on street so and so and it runs over 100 m!”
Commentators would join in the rejoice and the city would be celebrated as one of the greatest cycling cities in North America.
While happy for them, I could not help but think about the segregated bike lanes, each running a few blocks from my home, dating back from the 1980's, that every Montrealer and their dog takes for granted.

Finally, in 2008, equipped with my Norco Lady Vermont under one arm and dear hubby under the other, I arrived in New York to attend the Five Boro Tour. We endeavoured to cruise around town in search of the oh-so-celebrated wonderful cycling culture. Oh boy! Death breathed down our neck the entire week-end, especially on Staten Island... But I finally understood why every single progress was such a big deal: they were starting from far behind and swimming upstream a megalomaniac car-obsessed culture. No wonder even the smallest victories were so huge. My thoughts did not go any further however, and the dissonance, while tamed and muted, kind of remained and would pop up every time articles celebrating such and such city's vibrant cycling culture.

Fast forward a few years to this past June. Mikael Coleville-Andersen comes to Montreal to present his “Four goals for promoting urban cycling” conference. His passage is well covered by the Montreal media who just love when Europeans come all the way here to tell us how much we are like them.
And indeed, it seems that Montreal has got that little something that could (finally) propel it into the league of the grown ups (i.e. Amsterdam & Copenhagen) as the leading North American cycling city... if only... if only someone had the political balls... but more on that some other day.
Montreal is not receiving all the credit that it deserves. At last, someone finally articulated what has been in the back of my mind for all those years. This post has been a real eye opener for me as all of what he is describing is completely taken for granted by Montrealers, while being totally ignored by the international cycling community.
Yet, Mikael is so taken with our dear Villa-Maria that he comes back home all confused, still thinking about it... and announces that he shall be back: no problem, your groupies will await your return!!

This is how I came to the realisation that I should create a blog where I would intend, at my very humble scale of course, to contribute to reveal this wonderful and vibrant cycling to the world.

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