Bike culture is gaining momentum in Ottawa. If you can make it to City Hall on Wednesday, June 3 during lunch hour, you will be party to an entertaining showcase of cycle-chic fashion, the confluence of two seemingly disparate worlds. Looking good, feeling good and cycling need not be distinct.
CBC Ottawa Morning Radio Interview
On Friday I received an invitation to do a CBC radio interview to discuss the Gatineau Parkway issue I wrote to the Citizen a couple weeks ago about. I was happy to accept.
The interview can be heard here. Good thing I’m not running for office, because I can’t say I delivered my position as well as I had hoped. After 190k on the bike yesterday, and no coffee pre-interview, I have no reason to kick myself. I expected a sub-optimal performance. That’s fine, since I’m not participating in a popularity contest; this issue is not about me, but bringing about a better reality for Parkway users, cyclists and drivers alike.
An NCC staffer, Renée Bellhumeur, sat beside me in the studio while the host interviewed me first. After both interviews were done I took the opportunity to speak to Ms. Bellhumeur about steps forward. In the interview she stated closing the Parkway on Tuesday nights would not be practicable, as the process would have to begin at noon, etc. This point certainly holds water, but the conversation does not need to end there. I suggested simply closing the gates to incoming cars after 6. The cars still within the gates could leave, but no others would be admitted after 6. After a short time, this would be general knowledge, and people could plan for it, as they do for the other times the Parkway is closed. Ms. Bellhumeur was under the impression that the Tuesday night group would be opposed to this compromise proposition. We agreed that a consultation is the next step. She invited all stakeholders to meet with her to discuss this issue and work toward a resolution. Each of the three big local clubs should be involved, as should each of the local teams whose riders are populating the A and B loops. I will try to get in touch will senior members of each group ASAP to get this scheduled. If any readers can assist me in this regard, please get in touch. I can be reached at msurch at gmail dot com.
And a note on the A and B loops: it is no secret that these loops are a regular occurrence. Ms. Bellhumeur made mention of a post on one of the fora the suggested the loops be kept secret. Pretending the loops are not happening is not helpful. The NCC has been aware of the loops for some time. They have also video-taped the groups blocking the whole lane continuously. I suspect that many understand that this sort of behaviour is perceived as disrespectful to drivers. I suggested closing the Parkway on the Tuesday nights so as to minimize potential for such negative interactions. If this arrangement is struck, it might be wise to move the Wednesday ladies loop and whatever Thursday might loop is going on to Tuesday (Ms. Bellhumeur) informed me that the NCC is aware of large groups on these nights now). When the Parkway is open to traffic, efforts must be made to move over to allow drivers to pass. Sure, some will be agitated even if they have to pass two riders side by side, but I suspect many would be happy to see the large groups make an effort to let them pass. If I’m driving up to Champlain for an MTB ride, I know I’ll appreciate the pack helping me pass. Its not too hard to do. Riding with Duncan Beard, John Large and a couple other Wheelers yesterday was great, because we were able to learn from their experience dealing with cars while in large groups. They played facilitator roles, gesturing to cars when it was safe to pass. This kind of behaviour benefits everyone, and communicates respect for other road users. If we all show we are making an effort, I think we will minimize unpleasant encounters, and build a foundation from which arguments can be made for more car free time slots for the Parkway.
All this said, I did clearly say that riding two abreast is safer than single file, and that we do not expect to limit our group numbers to 15; the latter is not practicable. I honestly got the impression that the NCC does not strongly oppose these practices, but is mainly concerned about the really large groups.
Ms. Bellehumeur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Lets be serious, you want to see pictures before being subjected to more words, right? Rodd has posted his, and I am awaiting news of more going up (nudge nudge). I will update when I get more in. For now go here.
Thank you to everyone who came out for the inaugural Ride of the Damned. We numbered about 32 at the start, and everybody made it to Wakefield. The group split in half at that point, and the remaining riders headed north for the upper loop. We would have preferred firmer conditions on many of the dirt road sections, but that was outside our control. Some sections were very nice. The number of flats, about 12, is testament to the roughness of many of the roads. There were three tire cuts, requiring boots; I can’t remember one last year. Those who continued all the way up, over, and down got more than they bargained for, as we were at 150k upon our return to Wakefield. That put me at 190 by Ottawa, and I know Andrew was over 210 by home in Kanata. 190 is, of course, more than we had advertised. Fortunately, all the riders to do the whole distance were able to handle the work. But we realize it is important to get the distance right, so I promise to have a more accurate number for the next event we do. With time we’ll have the logistics down.