Why Montreal didn't want mountain bikes on Mount Royal anymore

The mountain bikers were heading downhill, and so was their collective relationship with city officials.

By the mid-1990s, city wanted to discourage cyclists from tearing up trails going down the mountain

The mountain bikers on Mount Royal

Digital Archives

28 years ago
In 1993, the city didn't want mountain bikers riding down Mount Royal -- even through they wanted to do that. 2:55

The mountain bikers were heading downhill, and so was their collective relationship with city officials in Montreal.

Twenty-seven years ago, the city was doing what it could to stop cyclists from riding down the footpaths of Mount Royal, despite the fact they had been rolling through those trails for years.

"For most of the 1980s, these trails were mountain bike heaven — one big jamboree of knobby tires and flying dirt," the CBC's Neil Macdonald reported on Prime Time News on July 6, 1993.

"But nothing goes unregulated very long in this country and now mountain biking here is strictly illegal."

'For their protection'

City officials didn't want to see mountain bikers riding down Mount Royal's footpaths, but that desire wasn't dissuading some of those cyclists from doing so. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

Why the opposition?

Hikers didn't like the risk of being struck by mountain bikes heading down Mount Royal. And, Macdonald said, the repeated bike journeys were eroding the paths on the mountain.

In response, the city had dispatched police officers on horseback to hand out tickets to those ignoring the rules.

"It's not only for the environment, it's for their protection," said Montreal police Const. Raynald Corbeil, showing a CBC camera the steep drop-off that cyclists could unintentionally find themselves descending if they lost control of their two wheels.

Mountain bikes more nimble than horses

Montreal police Const. Raynald Corbeil said an effort was being made to stop mountain bikers from riding Mount Royal for safety reasons and also to protect the footpaths from eroding. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)

Of course, it wasn't so easy — or even possible, in some cases — for horses to go down those trails, which meant cyclists knew they really couldn't be stopped.

"The city knows that, so the weapon of last resort is more trees," Macdonald said.

One cyclist who spoke to CBC News said that even if he was caught riding his bike there, the fine would be worth it.

"It's such a rush," said the mountain biker, who appeared on screen, but was not identified by name in the news report.

"Like $100 is nothing, compared to the fun you get out of it," he said, referring to the price of a fine from the city for being on two wheels on the trails.

This mountain biker said a possible $100 fine would not dissuade him from riding down Mount Royal, even though it was against the law to do so. (Prime Time News/CBC Archives)