Ottawa bike politics.
People are amazed when I tell them that my 25km bike commute to work is almost entirely on bike paths away from cars.
A month ago I went to the opening of the O-Train multi-use path, which goes along the O-Train between Carling and the Ottawa River Pathway. Great, I thought, but I’ll never use it. But then I tried it as a temporary construction detour from my old route. How nice! Then I started rolling the numbers.
A lot has changed in Ottawa since I started biking to work. The infrastructure is improving. Here’s how it went for me:
2005: I challenge myself to ride in just one day, it seems an impossible feat. The western part of Carling is really bad. People think I’m insane.
2008: The City paves the shoulders of the western part of Carling and the NCC Watts Creek Pathway is paved. Most of the route is easy (green) except for links. Intersections are a pain as the lights favour drivers, some have 3 min waits.
2009: I start biking to work in the winter. I get into the habit of just taking Carling all year round which is faster. Crazy.
2010: Major construction on Carling so I start taking the paths to avoid congestion with cars. I’m much more relaxed.
2013: The O-Train path is installed which makes the route flatter. I’m now down to just two traffic lights going to work, three coming back. There’s almost no road so I have to deal with pretty much nobody.
Here’s a table that shows how the portion of the route is now residential and paths.
If I was willing to add 10 mins to my trip I could get an entirely green route. It involves a bit of crushed-stone path and a few lights (some which are per-only).
These changes make a big difference for people on this route, but there are changes in other places that also affect many other people. Some examples are the Laurier Segregated Bicycle Lane, sharrows on Lyon, the bridge over the Airport Parkway. I know there’s lots more coming over the next few years. The Fifth/Clegg Bridge and the Donald St. Bridge are important projects that will convince new people to take up biking.
Yes, it’s getting better. But we need to keep up the pressure.