It seemed like everyone was out cycling yesterday. Sunday May 17 was the first day of the Alcatel Lucent NCC Sunday Bike Days. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sunday, sunny, low humidity (under 40%) and 24 C/75F by 5 pm. And the numbers showed it: over 5000 bike rides were counted near Canal Ritz on the Sunday before Victoria Day Monday by the underground bike counters, and many more were cycling on the road as the paths were overcrowded.
It was one of those perfect days in Ottawa. The NCC (a federal agency) closes 25 km of roads in Ottawa and 27 km in Gatineau Park. The NCC does that for 45 years now and this is perhaps one of the first Cyclovia initiatives in the world.
Not only does the NCC do that since 1970, they close the roads between Victoria Day (mid May) until Labour Day (early September) every Sunday. Polling showed that Ottawa Citizens are really happy with that initiative. Many of us would like to see the bike days extend further into the day (roads open again at 1 pm). I think I learned that the NCC is going to close stretches of road on certain weekday evenings in Gatineau Park too.
We went out for a bike ride along Colonel By Drive (closed for traffic), then dropped by at the Tulip Festival in Commissioners Park and then towards Lansdowne Park to show the New Urbanist Development to my sister-in-law from St. Catherines, but born and raised in Ottawa.
Back home, I enjoyed the suburban sound of table saws, lawnmowers and the neighbour’s radio. But still, what a gorgeous day. I am looking forward to the bike counter starts along the canal pathway near Canal Ritz.
On Twitter people tweeted comments and photos on how incredibly busy it was. It appeared the pathways were bursting at the seams. That is a good thing. The pressure is on for more and better walking and bike infrastructure. And the NCC and the Tulip Festival should sit around the table and discuss the traffic situation around Dow’s Lake and encourage people to take other means of transport than the car. And even close QE drive during the weekends for private vehicles, combined with proper detours.