Bixi is a bike share/rental service with bike stations scattered all over the city. The name is a mix of "bicycle" and "taxi", since it's a bike version of a taxi. The service is available from April to November (not in winter since it's too dangerous with the snow/ice), and it's possible to get a subscription/membership if you plan to use them a lot. You go to a station, make the transaction with your credit card, and unlock the bike. The first 30 minutes are free (any longer, and it will be charged to your credit card), and all you have to do is bring the bike back to any Bixi station in town (it doesn't have to be the one where you picked it up) and lock it properly.
If you are tempted to use the BIXI, the Montreal version of the city rental bike system you should be warned. The bike ride may cost more than a limosine unless you familiarize yourself with the (deliberately?) strange fee system presented in French on minute displays. It appears You must put the bike into a bike stand at short intervals, otherwise the charge escallates as a "punishment" for using the system at all!
My fiancee and I were charged 79 CAN $ for around 3 hours use on a day in July 2011. We only discovered the charge to the credit card after our return to Denmark and we have no recollection of seeing a clear explanation of the tariffs on the bike stands, only that a full days charge was 5 CAN $.
In downtown Montreal BIXI rental bicycle stations are located at several points.
There are 300 rental points and some 3000 bicycles.
Montreal has ~500 km of bicycle paths.
If you are visiting Montreal in the summer, rent a bicyle. There are so many bike trails in and around the city. And I found it faster than walking or the metro.
If you have time, the trail going from Atwater Market to the Lachine Canal is just beautiful. It is a designated bicycle trail, so you won't have to worry about traffic. To start, just go south of Atwater market, over the bridge and take a right.
You can purchase the "Pedaler Montreal" booklet which is a listing of all the Montreal trails at any bike shop. I found that it was easier to just ask a local for the start of a trail and just wander from there.
Always wear a helmet as you will probably be riding on some main roads. Beware of two things: cars are not too fond of the bicyclists, so follow the rules of the road to stay out of trouble. And GET A GOOD LOCK!! Everytime I met someone while riding my bike, they would tell me of their story of getting their bike stolen. Many have had several bikes stolen!
Although not the best around, Montreal still host about 350 miles of cycling path all over the island.
Very diversified, the landscape of Montreal will give everybody lots of challenge and scenary to admire.
My favorite ride starts in Lachine near the 34th avenue and Lakeshore.
Riding along the Lachine canal, on a terrific path, will make you go through rejuvenized neighbourhood which used to be industrial when the canal was the main way to bypass the rapids. It stopped being used when the St-Laurent seaway got constructed and lots of the industries closed.
20-30 minutes and you are downtown in the Old Port.
Riding along the St-Laurent, in Lasalle, is also beautiful. Much more mayflies in May in your face while riding ;-) and a few km more to reach the Old Port.
Depending which type of bikes you look for, my other preference is La Cordée, closer to the Jacques-Cartier bridge. They specialize in race, hybrid and mountain bikes. Also performance bikes.
Maybe while there you can also rent a tent, a canoe, some backpack for a long ride!
My preference is indeed Ça Roule Montréal right in the Old Port, 27 de la Commune East, inches away from St-Laurent.
They have a complete choice of bicycles, tandem, trailers for kids and rollerblades too. Maybe not the cheapest though.
Price examples : $8/1h, $12/2h, $15/4h, $20/day, $25/24h for bikes (little more for weekends).
Montréal is a very bike-friendly city and therefore this mode of transportation is effective. Many streets have bike lanes reserved for the two-wheeled machines, and bike shops are very proliferous. Since the city is fairly spread out and the roads quite wide in most places, it makes a lot of sense. The city provides bike racks on almost every block (interestingly, ads even find there way on to the bike racks in Montréal).
In a free and safe town, you will only depend of your imagination and resources to travel around, and I must confess that I never had seen such a comfortable bicycle, and never saw it again.
when gas is way too expensive, and the streets aren't frozen...cycling becomes the main means of transportation for the locals, and those visitors who feel a bit more adventurous...