Monday, March 29, 2010

Commuting strategy: picking a route

Commuting to work on a scooter is only a theory at this point.

I mainly commute by train, which is reasonably fast, safe and convenient. Except for having to live my life around the train schedule. When things are hectic at the office, I drive a car. Either way, the commuting time is roughly an hour.

My goal is to commute on my Vespa scooter each and every day from April through October, rain or shine.

The first step for my new commuting strategy was to find a scooter-friendly route to work. The criteria for the route were that it had to be pleasant, with no highway or expressway legs, and also reasonably efficient. The route I have chosen is probably a good part of the reason I am committed to doing this. I'll document my route during the summer on this blog.

My home is on the west island, on the lakeshore. Montreal is an island, like Manhattan. To the south, the St-Lawrence river widens to form Lake St-Louis. Three quarters of the route to downtown follows the old lakeshore road.

It's easily one of the most picturesque rides in the region. For much of the ride only parkland separates the road from the lake. The road takes you through pretty residential neighbourhoods dotted along the way by the old villages that developped along what used to be one of Canada's main early highways.

Eventually the scooter route leaves the lakeshore and follows the Lachine Canal along St-Patrick street. The canal was a nineteenth century industrial engineering marvel that allowed lake boats to take cargo from Montreal towards the great lakes, by-passing the formidable Lachine rapids. The canal was once the main artery for Montreal's factories. Almost all the factories that line the canal are long closed. For a time the Lachine canal was a dismal string of abandoned buildings. More recently, the entire length of the canal has been redevelopped as a parkway with a scenic bicycle path that travels the entire length of the canal ending at the port in Old Montreal. Most of those old factories have been redeveloped in the past 5 to 10 years as trendy residential lofts.

As ugly and forbidding as the canal once was, it has emerged as one of Montreal's great outdoor recreation spaces.

From the canal, which is only a fifteen minute Bixi bike ride from my office, the route crosses over into downtown. Five minutes on a scooter for that leg, tops!

I tested the route several times by car, and, it takes an hour.

So, an hour by car in bumper to bumper rush hour traffic on a clogged expressway; or an hour on a packed commuter train; or an hour on a scooter along one of the most picturesque, winding tree-lined, scenic routes in North America. Seems like a no-brainer.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I am very familiar with the route you describe and yes indeed it is very scenic, beautiful and in my view helps recharge ones batteries after a long day at the office.
    I grew up on Couvrette Street in Ville St-Laurent (Way at the end of O'Brien street by the baseball park)...Ville St-Laurent was totally different then from what it is nowand I used to go fishing in St Anne de Bellevue on my motor bike...I used Boul Gouin all the way to the end and hang a left to SADB...man, your blog brings back very fond memories of what I consider one of North America's most complete cities. Montreal has un certain je ne sais quoi...

    ReplyDelete

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