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Riding Montréal’s Tour la Nuit (photos)

Posted by on June 2nd, 2017 at 11:01 pm

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Rolling down Rue Berri near the start.
(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

If you were in charge of a bicycle advocacy organization and needed to raise awareness about the importance of using lights at night, what would you do?

19 years ago Vélo Québec decided to have a night ride. They called it Tour la Nuit. The first year a few thousand people showed up. Tonight, under cool and rainy skies, I joined about 15,000 other people on the 12-mile route. We pedaled on gloriously carfree streets from the city center to an industrial area south of town, and then back again.

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To me it felt like a mix of Sunday Parkways and Bridge Pedal — but in the dark. Despite the late start and associated hazards of riding dark streets with 15,000 other people, there were tons of young kids on the ride. Everyone seemed excited for this once-a-year chance to ride major city streets devoid of cars.

There was a light rain the entire night; but it didn’t seem to dampen the mood. The finish line party was still rocking when I rolled home at 11:00 pm.

Check out more photos below…

It was a festive mood at the start.

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I was fascinated by this woman using a large trailer to pull another woman who was in a wheelchair. The company she’s with is a professional moving service that happens to specialize in bike moves (hence the trailer skills)!

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These young guys were out on their own and having a great time. They told me they do the ride because it’s so fun to be on the streets without cars.

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Riding in front of the Notre Dame Basilica was definitely a highlight.

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— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and jonathan@bikeportland.org

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21 Comments
  • Avatar
    Kyle Banerjee June 3, 2017 at 12:55 am

    “If you were in charge of a bicycle advocacy organization and needed to raise awareness about the importance of using lights at night, what would you do?”

    Beautiful pics. Sadly, Portland is not ready for this yet as even helmets are still controversial. With hope, we will someday join the 1980’s and set ourselves on a course towards a safer and more fun age where even night riders take visibility seriously.

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      Mossby Pomegranate June 3, 2017 at 8:16 am

      Portland is too full of itself and it ain’t pretty. Montreal actually looks pretty cool.

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      Ray Atkinson June 3, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Since most people in Denmark and the Netherlands don’t wear a helmet but use lights, I wouldn’t compare wearing a helmet with using lights. I feel wearing a helmet means it isn’t safe to bike. This is why helmet use is common in Portland and Montreal. I feel using lights doesn’t show how safe it is to bike. Do you agree?

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        Dwk June 3, 2017 at 1:30 pm

        Do people who live in Portland think that the Netherlands is typical of Europe?
        What a small minded view…

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          Ray Atkinson June 3, 2017 at 7:15 pm

          Since Denmark and the Netherlands have the highest biking rates of any country in Europe, I agree these countries aren’t typical of European countries. These countries have the safest bike infrastructure in Europe and most people in these countries don’t wear a helmet when biking. Why do you think my perspective is a small minded view?

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            Dwk June 3, 2017 at 11:35 pm

            Sorry Ray,
            That post was not in context because a previous post was deleted for no reason I can think of.
            What I was trying to say is that in most places in the world there is not “safe” infrastructure and they wear helmets.
            If you want to cycle in most of Europe for instance, you are safer with a helmet and many people use them.
            I cannot really have a conversation here.

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              Ray Atkinson June 4, 2017 at 3:29 pm

              “What I was trying to say is that in most places in the world there is not “safe” infrastructure and they wear helmets.
              If you want to cycle in most of Europe for instance, you are safer with a helmet and many people use them.”

              I agree. This is why I only focused on Denmark and the Netherlands. Helmet use is more widespread in other European countries because other European countries don’t have as safe of infrastructure as Denmark and the Netherlands.

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      • John Liu
        John Liu June 4, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        But most people in Denmark support mandatory helmet use by at least some groups, and the Danish cycling federation encourages helmet use. https://www.thelocal.dk/20170327/danes-want-to-make-cycle-helmets-the-law

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          Ray Atkinson June 4, 2017 at 3:26 pm

          Interesting. When I studied bike planning in Denmark during summer 2012, I was informed by Danish cyclists that they don’t see the need for wearing a helmet because the infrastructure is safe. Maybe their perspectives have changed over the past few years or I didn’t ask enough cyclists.

          Either way, it appears the Analyse Danmark survey isn’t typical of Danish cyclists because the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Safe Traffic Council, and the government don’t support laws to require helmet use. “But the public’s broad support for the protective headgear is matched by neither the Danish Cyclists’ Federation (Cyklistforbundet), the Safe Traffic Council (Rådet for Sikker Trafik) nor the government.

          “We certainly recommend the use of cycle helmets. But we don’t think it makes sense to make it enforceable by law to wear them. Our experience tells us that campaigns work very well. We have found that more and more Danes are using helmets, and almost all school-age children are using them,” Klaus Bondam, director of Cyklistforbundet, told Avisen.dk.

          Bondam said that the introduction of rules on wearing helmets could lead to a drop in bicycle use, as well as being a drain on police resources.”

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          • John Liu
            John Liu June 4, 2017 at 10:43 pm

            But Portland cycling organizations don’t support mandatory helmet laws either, as far as I’ve heard. Nor do I, nor do most cyclists who do wear helmets, at least those who I’ve spoken with.

            We think wearing helmets most of the time is a pretty good idea. We don’t think our wearing helmets actually discourages others from cycling, any more than, say, wearing lycra discourages others from cycling. If a person’s interest in cycling is that feeble, then I doubt they’d actually ride much. Because bike riders get cold, sweaty, tired, wet, and other things a lot more discouraging than seeing other riders wearing helmets.

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        Spiffy June 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm

        if it was safe to bike in the city then we wouldn’t need bike lights…

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          Dan A June 5, 2017 at 7:37 am

          Even if cars didn’t exist, I’d still use a headlight to make myself more visible to pedestrians and other oncoming traffic. And in the way-early morning, I need my light to see debris on the road in front of me.

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    CaptainKarma June 3, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    My daughter-in-law and grandbaby are Canadian. I’d sure like to find a study or two that analyzes the differences in our cultures and how they got that way. They seem happier, with worse weather 🙂

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    9watts June 3, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    “To me it felt like a mix of Sunday Parkways and Bridge Pedal”

    I was thinking WNBR but with helmets…

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      Ray Atkinson June 3, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      It does look like WNBR, but with helmets and clothes.

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    Dead Salmon June 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm

    If you were in charge of a bicycle advocacy organization and needed to raise awareness about the importance of using lights at night, what would you do?

    I’d go to Bikeportland.org and make a comment about the importance of using reflective clothing and lights at night. Then I’d sit back and ROFL as the hateful comments came in about how it was the drivers responsibility to see me no matter what.

    🙂

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      9watts June 4, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Go ahead and rotfl all you want.
      Are you suggesting that it is *not* the driver’s responsibility to see those (deer, boulders, stranded individuals who are walking away from their car-that-ran-out-of-gas, etc.) who can’t be expected to have either of those accessories (lights, high-viz) handy? Never mind all the others who I guess you think should be so equipped but for whatever reason may not be? Is this a battle zone?

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      • John Liu
        John Liu June 4, 2017 at 10:48 pm

        Do you actually drive a car at night very often?

        Car headlights don’t turn night into day. If someone is trying to conceal themselves, it can be hard to see them from behind the wheel, headlights or no. If someone wanted to conceal themselves, it’s hard to do much better than to wear black clothing on a dark rainy night.

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          9watts June 4, 2017 at 11:25 pm

          Do you actually drive a car at night very often?

          I used to. Never did enjoy it.

          Car headlights don’t turn night into day.

          I know.

          I’m not going to disagree in the least. But the responsibility in my view lies squarely with those piloting the machine with the potential to harm. The fact that it is hard, sometimes very hard, to see out of one of those is not my problem, but the problem for the person who is choosing how fast to go under those circumstances, how to weigh his convenience, speed, attention level against all those unknowns that follow from the circumstances you noted above.

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          Dan A June 5, 2017 at 7:42 am

          What are people doing out driving on a dark rainy night? Don’t they know the likelihood of killing someone is much higher under those conditions?

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    KristenT June 5, 2017 at 8:44 am

    Beautiful pics, JMaus. They all look so happy, and like they are having a lot of fun!

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