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.
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.
I carried my bicycle across the Hartwell’s Locks, where I had a chat with someone from Dutch descent, who recognized my accent.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Place making in Gatineau
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”.
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.
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?
And for the data, here are the August numbers for 2014, 2015 and 2016 at 4 different bike paths: