Quebec advances plan for 2,100-mile bike path

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MONTREAL -- Quebec is pedaling full speed ahead in developing a Green Route bicycle path. By 2005, the path is expected to cover more than 2,100 miles throughout the French-Canadian province.

Gaspe PeninsulaWhen completed, the project will have cost nearly $60 million and will link Quebec's paths with existing and proposed paths in border provinces and throughout New England.

Quebec's portion of the trail will wind through 350 municipalities, 50 counties and 15 regions -- home to 4 million Quebec citizens -- making it one of the longest cycling routes of its kind in the world, according to organizers.

Started in 1995 by Quebec's government, the Green Route currently stretches about 1,500 miles in all directions of the province and features major trails in regions such as the Laurentians, the Eastern Townships, Monteregie, Bois-Francs and the Lower St. Lawrence.

Besides showing off the rural roads and villages of Quebec, the trail also will connect with other Canadian provinces and U.S. states.

The path currently connects Cabano, Quebec, with Edmundston, New Brunswick, with plans under way to link Sutton, Quebec, to St. Albans, Vt., and trails hooking up with bike routes in New Hampshire, Maine, Massachusetts and Ontario.

Project organizers say New York and Vermont are leading the way in the effort to link Quebec's trails with established routes south of the border.

The project is managed by Montreal-based Velo Quebec and financed by the provincial government of Quebec, various municipalities, a surcharge assessed on all new adult bicycle sales in Quebec and voluntary contributions from bicyclists and motorists through the sale of personalized automobile plates.

The Green Route uses smaller bike paths, recycled railway corridors, paved shoulders and designated shared roadways to create a safe and uninterrupted cycling network, according to Velo Quebec.

To promote its cyclo-tourism efforts, Tourisme Quebec (the province's tourism-promotion board) recently published a list of specific trails, along with local contact numbers, in their respective regions:

  • The Laurentians region has two trails: The Parc Lineaire le P'tit Train du Nord is an old railroad track that stretches 125 miles from Mont-Laurier to St.-Jerome and features many lakes and mountains. Contact the Association Touristique des Laurentides at (450) 436-8532 or (450) 990-5625). La Vagabonde is a well-known trail that is accessed via a train ride to the Parc d'Oka. Contact the Bureau d'Information Touristique at (450) 491-4444.
  • The Outaouais region includes the Outaouais' Bicycle Paths, which run in all directions through Aylmer, Gatineau and Hull, Quebec, with stops at various museums and the lakes of Gatineau Park. Contact La Maison du Velo-Hull at (819) 997-4356 or Tourisme Outaouais at (819) 778-2222.
  • The Monteregie region boasts two routes. One is a 22-mile trail taking cyclists from the heart of Suroit, Quebec, to St.-Francois Lake and Coteau-du-Lac. Contact Piste Cyclable Soulange at (450) 763-2398. The Five Tracks as a Trail Network links the paths -- Canal de Chambly, Monteregiades I and II, Estriade and Campagnarde -- from Chambly to Waterloo for a total of 86 miles and will eventually link Quebec City and Montreal. Contact ATR de la Monteregie at (450) 674-5555 or ATR des Cantons-de-l'Est at (800) 355-5755.
  • The Saguenay-Lac-St.-Jean region includes the Veloroute des Bleuets trail, a 159-mile track that has been under construction for the past two years -- scheduled for a 1999 completion -- and showcases the spectacular landscapes and villages surrounding Lake St.-Jean. Contact Veloroute des Bleuets at (418) 668-4541.
  • The Quebec City area contains La Piste Jacques-Cartier/Portneauf trail, which follows an old railroad on its journey from Shannon to Riviere-a-Pierre. Contact La Societe de la Piste Jacques-Cartier/Portneuf at (418) 337-7525.
  • Canton-de-l'Est is where the Grandes-Fourches trail follows a 33-mile circuit featuring the bridges, lakes and streams of the Sherbrooke region. Contact the Greater Sherbrooke Tourism and Convention Bureau at (819) 822-6195 or (800) 561-8331.
  • Bas Saint-Laurent features the 68-mile Petit Temis course, which runs partly from Quebec City to New Brunswick along lakes and rivers, including a 25-mile stretch along Lake Temiscoulata. Contact ATR Bas-St.-Laurent at (418) 867-1272.
  • Bois-Francs has the 43-mile Parc Lineaire des Bois -Francs trail that winds through fields and forests. Contact Parc Lineaire des Bois-Francs at (819) 758-6414.
  • For the Green Route, contact Tourisme Quebec at (514) 873-2015 or (800) 363-7777. Tourisme Quebec maintains a Web site at www.tourisme.gouv.qc.ca. Velo Quebec maintains a Web site at www.velo.qc.ca, and can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected] Velo Quebec also can be reached by calling (800) 567-8356 or (514) 521-8356.

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