Sunday, December 18, 2011


Gentrification is the key to understanding why cycling is booming in western cities, and even more so in Montreal. Volit nolit, like it or not.

I found this *WONDERFUL* documentary on youtube. It says and explains it all. 
"Montréal, tales of gentrification" in a bohemian city is about the effect of condo development and gentrification in Montréal. Many former working class and low-income communities across the city are being transformed by large-scale urban development, which affects many residents. Distinct neighbourhoods such as Shaughnessy Village, Saint-Henri, Griffintown, Pointe Saint-Charles, Parc-Extension and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve are being targeted to become more like Montreal's most well known district, Plateau Mont-Royal.
They forgot, Centre-Sud, my neighbourhood. Some of the infos are old news and things have gentrified even further, with the Main (Red light district) currently under attack.
The better part of our urban cycling network overlaps gentrified and gentrifying areas to the perfection. Those areas are where the cycling community lives and thrives. Most of the new urban cyclists are part of the ever growing crowd of white middle class bobos, bohos, chic hippies, yuppies, trustafarians, faux-punks, faux-grunges, high income humanitarians/NGO/fair-trade/organic business managers, hipsters, artist wannabes, academic guerilleros, all of which are mostly young professional urban dwellers, me included. Yep, I plead guilty!

Enjoy a good look at Montreal and notice how, every time they show a gentrified area, there is a bike somewhere, somehow on the image.

Caveat: it is not always true that people in gentrifying neighbourhoods are being displaced or pushed out. In some cases, the neighbourhoods had been abandoned by its previous inhabitants who moved to the suburbs, are in ruins, in complete decay, and new folks are moving in next to and not in the place of its remaining original inhabitants. Of course, the effect on rent is the same, granted. But this whole "old rental apartments buildings get torn down to give room to new condos" is overplayed. It is simply not true. Abandoned gas stations, old garages, falling warehouses and (thank God!) surface parking do get destroyed, that's true and it is a goddamn good thing!!!

What's even more funny, is that the ultimate gentrifiers are those very ones who complain about it.
The girl from the Touski café is the ultimate hipster even though she might not realise it! Her café is awesome, super "in", up and coming, full packed with other hipsters, bobos and yuppies. Up to last year, they were a drop point for Jardins de Tessa, an organic farm I am a member of as well, they hosted Projet Montréal meetings, all kinds of alt/underground art events and festivals... Come on already!

Same with the other girl from the Centre Social Autogéré in Pointe St Charles. That centre is a very cool place, full packed with artists, alternative lifestyles projects, among which guess what: a bike project (Duh, what else?). I am lucky enough to know some folks involved in and hanging around this: a circus artist and a fashion designer... Enough said.

They are totally part of those in the first wave of gentrification, turning around and criticizing those in the second wave!! Seriously, whatever...

So, in your own communities, are you part of the gentrifiers or are you being gentrified at? What is your take on the issue?

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Christmas preps on Mont Royal Av.

After some serious training to ensure they can complete their run on time...

The Christmas elves have started collecting children's letters. Some more this week-end and they'll go back to the north pole to get all of these gifts ready for the big day...

(Man, this is so silly I can't believe I am actually writing this!)
All of this at the Metro Mont Royal, courtesy of the borough.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

At the end of the lane - part 3

Last part of the sucky bike-lane expedition.

Contrary to appearances, I am very in favour of the Occupy Montreal's ideas. I disagree on the vector or the vehicle chosen to bring those wishes into reality. Obviously, this movement has nothing to do with Mai 68, la Révolution Tranquille or the Arab Spring and has not intention to become either.
Yet, you do not fight a system from the outside. Either you play the game from within or you die. So far, as far as Montreal is concerned, the movement has died, or so it seems.

More pictures.

The bike lane goes around the square and comes back towards home. Which it what I did, disappointed.

2012 will be a big election year for the province. We'll see who managed and  who failed to convince who, and whether this protest movement can translate into anything concrete politically, i.e. whether these ideas ever reached beyond the clique of like-minded people.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

At the end of the lane - part 2

Second part of my adventures on the sucky bike lane.
I am one of those who think cycling is a political act; it is a statement that positions the cyclist socially, geographically, psychologically and politically.
In this case however, I was proven wrong. I was all excited at the idea of what I was going to find at the end of the lane. Alas!
At the end of that lane was the Occupy Montreal encampment.

Oh boy! I am not sure of what I expected, but this had to be the least political thing I have attended in years. Mind you, it was on purpose. The whole was specifically put forward as an apolitical movement.
Results? Nada. Oh yeah, they got kicked out from the place and that's it. I heard they relocated somewhere else... Whatever.

Any lessons to be learned from this? Maybe this one: Nothing comes out of non-political movements. My take of course.
A few pictures.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cycling is everywhere

Even in the silliest of ads.
I took the picture of this one as I walked by it earlier today in the Atwater metro station. When el cheapo razor brands are flirting with bikes as well...

Maybe cycling has gone mainstream for real!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

No ridiculous car trips

No ridiculous car trips is an informational film about a campaign bearing the same name. This campaign, now in its fourth year, aims at convincing more people too choose cycling over driving in Malmö City in Sweden.

No ridiculous car trips from Martin Lang on Vimeo.

The idea of ridiculous car trips is spot on. I still remember getting appalled with one of my then colleagues who shamelessly told me how she would drive down her driveway to pick up the mail... Ok, that one is pathological.
Yet, too many trips are made that could easily be done on a bicycle. Malmö's campaign was successful and brought them some international recognition.