Tulips on Two Wheels: Saturday May 5th at Canal Ritz

Board member Simone Rivers designed this wonderful poster for the bike event on Saturday, May 5th, coincidently the Netherlands' Liberation Day.
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Board member Simone Rivers designed this wonderful poster for the bike event on Saturday, May 5th, coincidently the Netherlands’ Liberation Day.

Everyone in Ottawa knows why we have tulips, but for those who don’t live here (and I have readers as far as Chicago and Charleston, SC), here is the short summary: Dutch Princess Juliana stayed with her daughters in Ottawa during World War Two. As a token of appreciation, the Royal Family donated thousands of tulips and still continue this tradition until today. The Dutch bulb growers chip in too, so every year hundreds of thousands of tulips bloom in the Capital. Add a canal and lots of bikes and the occasional waft of weed, and you’d swear you are in Holland, save the wooden shoes.

NCC CEO Marie LeMay explains to Dutch Princess Margriet -born in Ottawa- how narrow the NCC multi use pathways used to be – Picture Urban Commuter (2010).

The Dutch have been trying to alter the image of those typical Dutch symbols, by advertising soil remediation, hi tech stuff and creative industries, but the bottom line is that tourists still love the symbols. Let’s face it, who goes to Holland to admire nano technology, or contaminated soil? Actually, seven MP’s from Canada did just that and loved the country: ask Dave van Kesteren or Rod Bruinooge to name but a few.

Seven Canadian MP’s visited the Netherlands in April 2012. Here, they cycled at Kinderdijk, famous for its windmills. Watch for them on the Laurier Bike Lane from now on. Picture: Dutch Embassy

But this blog is not about Holland, but about Citizens for Safe Cycling “Tulips on Two Wheels” event. Here is the press release:

Ottawa – Citizens for Safe Cycling invites Ottawans to get back on their bikes, now that spring is truly here and the tulips are fully in bloom.

Free tours and check ups

Its “Tulips on Two Wheels” event this Saturday will be offering free bike tours of the tulips, and free bike check-ups beforehand to make sure that adults’ and children’s bikes are ready for the cycling season to come.

The volunteer group, which has been working since 1984 to promote cycling and improve conditions for cyclists in Ottawa, will be setting up a tent
beside the Rideau Canal Pathway near Queen Elizabeth Drive and Fifth Avenue (just south of the Canal Ritz), from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 5.

Safety Checks by Cycle Salvation

Mechanics from the non-profit bike repair group Cycle Salvation  will be safety-checking bikes and doing simple tune-ups (such as pumping up tires) until 2 p.m. to ensure cyclists are comfortable. Volunteers will give cycling tips and hand out cycling information, as well as selling the new Ottawa bike map.

Guided Tours

And Citizens for Safe Cycling volunteers will lead two (or more if there is enough demand) guided tours to the best tulip views in town, starting at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Cyclists just need to show up with a bike and helmet (required by law for under-18s). Unlike other bike tours this weekend, there is no registration fee.

Family event
It’s a family event“, said Tulips on Two Wheels organizer Risa Sargent. “We’d like to see people come out with their children and have fun together, seeing how lovely Ottawa can be in May. And what better vantage spot from which to see the blooming tulips than from the seat of a bike?””Cycling is an activity that almost everyone can take part in, getting exercise and enjoying themselves,” she said. “Our aim is to encourage people to bike for more of their daily destinations and tasks, and we’ve found that the best way is to get people enjoying cycling and then wanting to do it more often.
Sun, sun, sun
The event will occur rain or shine, but the current forecast is for [15 degrees and] sunshine.
Citizens for Safe Cycling is an Ottawa volunteer group that has promoted cycling and cycling safety in Ottawa since 1984.
Jane’s Ride at Jane’s Walk
Another event I’d like to draw your attention to is a great initiative of Dennis van Staalduinen under the Jane’s Walk umbrella. An impossible Dutch name to pronounce for CBC’s Hallie Cotnam, Dennis (who brands himself as DenVan), also advises Citizens for Safe Cycling on some of our communication strategies. He is passionate about cycling and walking in Ottawa and I strongly suggest you participate in his wonderfully designed couple of kilometers bike ride with stories about access to Ottawa’s Waterfront (or the lack thereof). http://denvan.ca/wp/lost-tourist-attractions/
 With input from Alayne McGregor of Citizens for Safe Cycling.


  1. FYI: there is a free bike tune-up this Sunday May 5 at Britannia Road and the bike path (west end Ottawa). Minor repairs and tune-ups will be outside, major work can be done in the Recyclore.org bike co-operative that is a few steps away.

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