If you have ever had the "pleasure" of driving in Montreal then it likely didn't take too long to realize that just about any alternative form of transport is far more preferable. It shouldn't be too surprising then that non automobile transport has become so popular in this city. As the region's roadways continue to suffer from congestion and ongoing decay many drivers have begun to rethink owning a car and have instead opted for less frustrating ways of getting around. Here are some of the top reasons against owning a car.
1. Parking Tickets
The city's parking signage is confusing even for the most astute observer. Tickets are all too easy to come by as Montreal has an impressive team of bylaw ninjas that ruthlessly enforce any and all parking laws. Most of the time they strike unannounced and are gone before you are able run outside and plead for mercy. With tickets starting at $55 a piece it doesn't take long to amass an expensive collection.
2. Gas Is Expensive As Fvck
Gasoline costs in Quebec are the second highest in the country and it can be a downright painful experience to fill up your tank if you own anything larger than an economy car. Add to this that you are likely to spend far more time than you would like to sitting in traffic. Besides not getting anywhere fast you are essentially watching your hard earned cash slowly being expelled through the tailpipe.
Photo cred - Andre Rivest
3. Crazy Drivers
Driving around Montreal is an interesting if not unnerving experience. Most streets have narrow lanes and many drivers don't seem to remember that it is generally courteous to at least signal before cutting off the car beside you. The speed limit on many of Montreal's highways is 70 km/h but the flow of traffic generally moves around 110-120 km/h leaving any speed conscious driver a nervous wreck.
4. One Ways
Once off of the highways many drivers unfamiliar with the city will become so disoriented by the plethora of one way streets that they may contemplate ditching the car at the side of the road and simply walking the rest of the way to their destination. If a ton of one ways isn't bad enough there are also many streets that simply turn into opposing one ways unannounced or lanes that magically disappear following intersections.
5. The Roads Are Falling Apart
You don't have to drive very far to notice that Montreal's roads are falling apart. Many of the major roadways were built during the megaproject years of the 1960's and have been woefully neglected since. Due to the chronic lack of upgrades many roads are handling traffic that is far beyond the capacity that they were originally designed for, leading to maddening levels of congestion for drivers and never ending construction. Some integral parts of the road network have actually been deemed unsafe although they continue to be used because the alternative is a virtual shutdown of regional traffic.
Montreal's potholes get a special mention simply due to their numbers. Many a car have wrecked suspension components after being subjected to the onslaught of potholes spread throughout the city. Some stretches of road are particularly bad (Papineau north of autoroute 40 comes to mind) and feature stretches of near continuous divets that could subdue even the largest 4x4. City crews fight a never ending battle to repair holes but for the most part it appears to be a losing cause...
7. Transit Is Really Good
Yes I know that just about anyone that lives in Montreal has complaints about the STM. In fact, just about everyone in every city in North America has complaints about their city's transit system. Complaints aside, Montreal actually has a pretty excellent transit system. Metro coverage is extensive and the bus network is one of the largest and most comprehensive in North America. Fees are reasonable considering the size and scope of the system and access to rapid transit is the best in Canada.
Photo cred - Mathieu Sauvé
8. Car Sharing Is Caring
For those times when you will need to use a car Montreal has two excellent car sharing companies in Communauto and Car2Go. Both companies offer cars for short or long term rental and there are tons of vehicles throughout the city available at any time. Rates are very reasonable and you never have to worry about the stress of insuring and maintaining a vehicle.
9. This Is A Bike City
Montreal has long been touted as one of the best biking cities in North America. The city's bike lane infrastructure is a major reason that cycling can legitimately exist through all four seasons with snow removal during the winter months. Another major part of Montreal's biking success should be attributed to the local culture surrounding cycling. There is wide spread acceptance that biking is a viable alternative to car based transport. No one seems to care too much about riding against traffic on a one way street or the fact that your not decked out in the finest spandex race gear and that's probably a good thing for the sake of everyone's sanity.
Montreal is an excellent city to just plain walk around in. The compact size of the downtown core means just about anyone can walk clear across it in around 25 minutes. Numerous parks and walkways in each borough allow for effortless foot travel between destinations. Each borough also has a distinct character that is much better experienced at a walking pace. What better way than walking to take in all of the city's excellent murals!?