Beautiful Last Nokia (née NCC) Bikeday for 2016 in Pictures

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The Nokia bikedays in Ottawa went out with a bang. Great weather conditions created a picture postcard Sunday for cycling in Ottawa. For 46 years now, the popular road closures allow people to go out for a ride along the canal and the Ottawa river. While there are pathways along the canal and the river too, closing the roads allow for extra bike traffic. One can experience the congestion at the other side of the canal, with no road closure, where bike traffic, runners and rollerbladers have to work hard to stay out of each others hair.

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My ride starts at the south end of the Experimental Farm

I volunteered to collect data from four locations on the NCC pathways, so Sunday was a wonderful opportunity to combine a bike ride and collecting data. As usual, I am starting off in Nepean. It is about 1.5 km to the entrance of the Experimental Farm, which is closed for traffic in the weekends.

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Rural road on the Farm

I carried my bicycle across the Hartwell’s Locks, where I had a chat with someone from Dutch descent, who recognized my accent.

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Hartwell’s Locks. The unwritten rule is that you wait for others to cross from the other side. Some people don’t know that and meet halfway. Tight.
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This stretch is usually a bit quieter. But it shows you the space you can have for yourself.

From there on, I followed Colonel By, crossed Pretoria to fetch counter data, met up with Karen near Terrace on the Canal, which advertises an “AMAZING PANAROMIC VIEW OF DOWNTOWN OTTAWA” (sec).

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Along the way, you ‘ll see canoes, pleasure yachts, stand up paddle boards and kayaks.
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Cyclists crossing the road at Pretoria bridge.

We crossed back to the west side of the canal via the Corktown Bridge and went north to the locks at the Ottawa river behind the NAC.

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The hugely successful Corktown bridge is important in the east west connection through downtown Ottawa. Over 7000 people cross the ped and bike bridge daily on a summer day. Not all city councillors were convinced when it was built ten years ago: “No one is going to use it”

Topless cyclist

In the corner of my eye I saw a guy cycling shirtless and I was thinking to myself that you don’t see that very often. My eyes veered further to the left to the woman cycling next to him. She was all smiles on her upright bike. Then I noticed she was actually cycling topless. And this in the city that is known for the city that fun forgot. (It is legal for women to go topless in Ontario after a court battle in the 1990’s). Apparently she has been spotted at other places too.

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This shared space area is run by Parks Canada. When a guy biked down and crashed at the bottom (he had no brakes for God’s sake), there were calls to ban cyclists. Parks Canada turned to @BikeOttawa for advise. We asked our members what a solution could be. Parks chose for cobble stone strips, fitting in the historic environment. Kudos for not closing it off or asking cyclists to ‘walk their bike’.

Small world

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Over 100 years old, Alexandra bridge is the gateway to Quebec (read: cheaper alcohol)

We crossed the locks, cycled up the impossibly steep ramp towards the Alexandra bridge into Quebec. We took a left turn after the bridge (always a bit iffy as cyclists might pass you downhill) and used the museum ramp to get back to the river. And look who were walking there: Graham Saul of Ecology Ottawa and Liz Bernstein of the Nobel Women’s Initiative.

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There are the Parliament buildings, always nicer seen from the Quebec side.

Place making in Gatineau

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More shared space across the intersection in Quebec. It does work and saves a lot of lines and signs.

We made a brief stop at the “Brasseurs du Temps” in Gatineau. We initially couldn’t figure out how to get to the patio from the other side of the canal, but a desire line over private property got us across the bridge. That whole area screams “PLACEMAKING”.

Capture placemaking in gatineau
How not to use your waterfront property: Rue Taylor in Gatineau


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Shortcut to the Brasserie via Rue Montcalm.
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The brasserie is huge on the inside and has a nice patio outside.
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The pulled pork sandwich is $16 before tips and tax. We ordered one portion for two. This is my half. The Bouillon de la Chaudière beer was a lot better.

As Karen had already cycled an extra 25 km, we took the shortest route back, i.e. via the Chaudière Bridge. On a Sunday it isn’t too bad, but with the large blind wall, it isn’t pleasant. Over our right shoulder, we caught a glimpse of the Chaudière Falls. Following the Ottawa River Parkway, we turned into the Trillium Pathway towards Dow’s Lake and the Arboretum and back home through the Farm, which completed my virtually car free (as in not sharing the road) 30 km loop. Karen clocked 25 km extra.

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The Trillium pathway, along the O-train connects the Ottawa River pathways with Dow’s Lake pathways. I have been a big fan of this path and I use it both for my commute and recreational rides.

More Bikedays

While every day is bike day, the bike days are very popular. Roads are closed between end of May and early September, about 13 weekends in a row. This was the 45th year and there are calls to expand the season as well as the length of the closures on the Sundays. I hope the NCC is wiling to take that next step. It would be a great announcement for the 150th birthday of Canada next year. Roads closed from 8-4, and two weeks longer at either end. Do I see Dr. Kristmanson nodding in agreement?

Counter data

And for the data, here are the August numbers for 2014, 2015 and 2016 at 4 different bike paths:

data 2016
The counter near Canal Ritz is a bit off. We have had some technical problems with it in 2015, but they are solved now. Alexandria 2015 puzzles me a bit, but perhaps there was work on the bridge last year?



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