Beat the Blues with the Family Winter Bike Parade

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When I speak to audiences in Canada, I often hear that ‘Canada is too cold for cycling‘. Obviously, that is more of a mindset than a reality. Indeed, there are days that the weather is not really cooperating, but that applies more to the poor road conditions than the temperature. Let’s face it, lots of people are out on snow mobiles, on skates on the canal in Ottawa, or on skies on the slopes of the Rockies or the cross country trails in Gatineau Park. The temperature doesn’t bother all those outdoorsy folks.

Ottawa's Laurier Bike Lane is being cleared during a snowstorm on January 13, 2012 Photo: Urban Commuter Ottawa

During the 56 days winter bus strike a couple of years ago (was it 2008/09?), the only way to get to work for me was taking the bike. I could have walked, but 8 km one way is a bit too much. So I took the bicycle and discovered that cold air didn’t really bother me as much as I had feared, as I generated heat while cycling. If you dress smartly, the body heat stays trapped between several layers of clothes. (I could basically throw the bike out after the winter, but that’s another story.)

To show that winter cycling in Ottawa is achievable, Citizens for Safe Cycling is organising a fun family winter bike ride this Sunday, January 22nd, 2012 through downtown Ottawa. People are asked to gather at Laurier and Percy at noon. From there cyclists will cycle to City Hall, where volunteers are waiting inside to serve free hot cider. The focus is obviously on the fun part, so expect a slow ride; no new speed or distance records will be set. There is the photo opp in front of City Hall, with as many winter cyclists in the picture as possible.

Dress warm and colourful. The weather forecast is promising.

When: January 22, 2012 at noon

Where: Laurier Ave at Percy, Ottawa

Who: Everyone! Councillors Hobbs (“I will bring cookies“), Fleury, Chernushenko, Holmes and Transportation committee chair Wilkinson will be there to cheer and serve cider.

If you have a Facebook account, sign up for the ride, so the organisers have a rough idea how many people are participating and councillor Hobbs can start baking in time. Or email The counter sits at 30 or so. CfSC is already getting feedback from Singapore, the US and the Netherlands. Read a previous blog on an NCC study on the winter use of pathways here.

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