Encountering Kids in Wellington West, Ottawa

Mini Canadian in Maxi Dutch Bakfiets
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Ready to cross into Wellington St., Wellington West’s Main Street.

I remember as a kid in Holland, we always had a decorated bike ride on our Queen’s Day (which is basically our National Day). I didn’t think much of it and participated a number of times. Only now I realise, 45 years later, that it was probably organised to make us familiar with traffic. Or probably just to have fun. Who knows.

In Ottawa, Kathleen Wilker has become the face of children cycling advocacy. She works for the Kitchisippi Times, won the Bruce Timmermans City of Ottawa award, and is a member of the Hintonburg Cycling Champions. She also writes for Momentum Magazine. She studied carefully how the Dutch get their children cycling and implements it in her own modest way in Ottawa.

This weekend she was at the front of a Tour des Enfants in Hintonburg/Wellington West (I never know what to use for what in that area), a short ride through Hintonburg to get kids acquainted with traffic around them. You can let your kids cycle on the side walk, or tell them their whole life that cycling is dangerous, but you can also teach them how to deal with traffic properly, which is very much the Dutch approach, as not every street has bike facilities (most streets don’t actually, despite the many pics you see on the several Dutch blogs). Therefore it is not about distance today, but about making kids feel comfortable on the streets, turning them into vehiculino’s at a young age.

This all happened on the same day as a Taste of Wellington West. We cycled about a kilometre at the most, from Parkdale Park to Wellington St.eastbound and after a few blocks back to Armstrong towards Parkdale Park.

Kids had a great time and as Kathleen writes in Momentum Magazine: “It was a moment of pure magic. I turned around and found I was looking at thirty kids-aged six to ten-lined up on the street four or five across, totally confident and capable. Together they were taking the lane on their very own bikes. Every single kid was wearing a great big grin, totally focused on riding and totally ready to go. Were they ready to turn left onto the main street and join the street party? You bet!

(pictures are a bit in random order)

Mini Canadian in Maxi Dutch Bakfiets
Without mom and dad!
Hey, there is RightBike moving Right Bikes on one of their trailers.
cycling through Wellington St. The bus driver kindly waited.
On Armstrong.
Lonely vehicular cyclist.
Never leave without sun glasses.
I have never seen so many vehicular cyclists at once. The other two-three were not there…
Not sure if they would come along, but they did.
Well prepared, helmet on properly.
Cool mom, cool kid.
Kathleen must have a tanning bed at home. Even in February she is tanned.
O that cuteness factor.

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