Using a bike during the #Transitchallenge2020

The neighbourhood street was still pretty and white
Reading Time: 6 minutes

O what a gorgeous day it was on Wednesday. Clear skies and a temperature of only -5C. The windchill made it feel more like -15C according to Robyn Bresnahan though. Should I go downtown by bus?

One day after a 5 cm snow fall, the bike lanes on Fisher NB are so so

I had to do some errands downtown and I was heavily leaning towards public transit. Bus 88 to Hurdman and then backtrack to downtown on Line 1 would do the trick within about 25 minutes.

Fisher Ave snow covered lanes
The bike lane stops and one has to merge into traffic, because the road was narrowed and 5 meters of side walk was put in

But when I saw the sun light flowing into the house, I realised that I really should cycle at least part of the way, because a real, let alone avid, cyclist considers such temperatures a challenge, not a barrier.

bike in train leaning against chairs
Bike in the train towards UOttawa. Hold on to your bike as it will likely fall over

I cycled along not overly bike friendly Fisher and Holland to Tunney’s Station, said hi to my new friends in the red vests at the station and jumped in the train, bike in hand. The trains were on hold when I arrived (not for me), but the issue was solved within a few minutes.

Crossing the Corktown bridge

Councillor Gower & Uottawa

The love locks are gradually coming back. ‘T was not busy on the canal

One day, when I was working at UOttawa LRT station, I saw Councillor Gower (Stittsville) and he mentioned to me he always hops on the train at UOttawa, rather than at Parliament. I thought that was such a clever idea that I decided to stay in the train until UOttawa and cycle back across the Corktown bridge and along the canal to City Hall, rather than getting off at Parliament.

pathway along the canal in winter
Pathway along the canal NB towards City Hall

I needed to renew my driver’s license and health card and I was prepared for a long wait, but after I sat down with my number I hardly had time to take off my mittens: “M008 please go to Nr 3”. It took all but 7 minutes to go through the entire process, take a photo (twice) and I even managed to make the lady behind the desk smile, when I asked her if my hair looked OK.

City Hall against a crisp blue sky

Apple store

Team Canada lives here

After the session, involving stamps, paperwork and signatures, I walked to the Apple store in the Rideau Centre. Wow, is the Mackenzie King bridge ever a quiet place now the majority of the buses is gone. What a difference.

At the Apple store, the first Apple genius to help me was available only in 45 to 60 minutes. What a contrast with the 2 minute wait at City Hall. I really cannot spend an hour in a mall so I left again with my old half working Apple TV (streaming works, but screen mirroring doesn’t) under my arm. I have to plan this better next time. Or buy a Google Chromecast.

Pressed Cafe

I didn’t want to take photos with people, but I figured a pepper and salt shaker pic is fine at Pressed Cafe

Back to City Hall to pick up my bike and off I went for a ride to Pressed Cafe. The shortest way would have been to go down Elgin and right on Gladstone, but I chose for a roundabout way to test my bike in LRT. So off I cycled to Parliament, took the bike in the train again, said hi to a few more red vest colleagues and appeared above ground at Lyon again. I rarely work in the downtown stations and I have no sense of direction when I am underground. It is always a bit of a surprise what I will see above ground.

But I did get it right, and took Lyon to Gladstone, had coffee and a strategic business meeting and then cycled home along the Trillium pathway towards Nepean.

Flying through red

The temporary detour in the Trillium pathway is less than a year old and already has a large patch (foreground, left)

When I nearly finished crossing Carling on the Trillium pathway a driver blew through red (eastbound, so not facing afternoon sun) right behind me, without even taking a foot off the pedal. Just to be sure, I looked on ‘my’ bike signal and it just changed to yellow, so the driver really blew through red. It is not the first time I see this happening. And not only at this intersection. If there are no side roads, some drivers don’t even notice the traffic signals. I have seen it on Sussex and on King Edward too.

Trillium pathway kept reasonably clean during the winter
Disappearing Little Italy. The open area was built up until recently. The plan called for a new 12 storey (?) building, but that has been postponed. In the back the tallest building (for now) in Ottawa is being built. The wooden sticks in the foreground are used to support tomatoes in a backyard in the summer. Talking about contrasts.
No transit on Prince of Wales so the shoulder it is!
The new separate bike lanes on Prince of Wales are underneath the piles of snow. So I think it is fair that I bike on the sidewalk instead.

A bit on bikes on LRT

Bike in the elevator at UOttawa

From what I observe in my red vest when working at stations, and also from my own experience, you really don’t want to take your bike down the stairs on the specially designed ramps. It doesn’t really work. The weight of the bike can pull you down or your pedals get stuck behind the posts of the hand railings.

I either carry my bike up the stairs when it is quiet (except at the downtown stations which are too deep underground) or I take the elevator. They are quite fast and although they are being used, you rarely have to wait. Outside rush hour there is plenty of space in the trains, but during the rush hours you might get a lot of distressed looks as the trains tend to be packed.


To be honest, I don’t gain much time, if any, by taking transit on the short distances I travel. I get to Tunney’s faster by bike than by transit because walking and waiting at the bus stop requires extra time. Enjoying the sun, despite the cold wind yesterday was a bonus. I incorporated the O-train just for the fun of it, because of the transit challenge this week. The advantage of the O-train is that you can take your bike on it year round, unlike the buses. The downside of cycling today is that my new coat (steep discount sale at Sportchek), my face and my glasses are now covered with tiny specks of road salt.

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