Re: [carfree_cities] Frigid carfree districts
- Greetings from the second-coldest capital city in the world!
The original question is based on a premise I don't agree with:
specifically that, when one travels, one needs full climate control.
I hope those on this list know that, in winter, driving (and city
efforts to accommodate it) is far more environmentally dangerous and
threatening to the vulnerable roadusers, than during the rest of the
Bosh! As was pointed out, the important factor is a) the distance one
needs to cover (the longer the exposure, the more challenging the need
for "protection) and b) the level of "activeness" of the traveler.
On the whole, Canadian cities are more dense and less-car-oriented than
American cities (see: Kenworthy & Newman, _Cities and Car-Dependence: A
Sourcebook). This is partly _because_ of the harsh climate.
I am bike-dependent for eight months a year, and shift completely to
walking during the winter, always properly dressed (body, feet, and
head/neck) and always enjoying myself. I don't get cold, unless I have
to stand or sit, when my body doesn't have the stimulus of being on the
Having said that, I have been a pedestrian activist for some time,
including trying to get over the inequality of the treatment of walking
and driving surfaces. E.g., "Streets are _cleared_, sidewalks are
_plowed_" (yes, Ottawa city staff plow -- and grit -- all sidewalks, but
all winter the walking surface is that of ice, after the first thaw or
The result is that seniors, so vulnerable to falls and so unable to heal
quickly (or at all) when injured, are virtually under house-arrest
during the winter, unless they have a car (which of course will be used
when it isn't needed the rest of the year).
Ottawa also has the "world's longest ice rink" along the Rideau Canal
that runs from the south through the centre of town 8-9 kilometres).
Many people commute on ice skates. The National Capital Commission
builds ramps for its ice-clearing equipment and drills holes to allow
for periodic flooding (using the water under the 10-plus inches of
ice). I live two blocks away and skate to downtown for meetings about
once a week. The Canal is the scene of Winterlude, one of the largest
winter festivals in the world (now drawing more people than the older
Quebec Winter Carnival).
The snow and ice surface is a natural for blades and boards. The city
of yore had transit that ran on runners (horse drawn), and to ensure a
good surface, the snow was packed with rollers, rather than being plowed
(which creates a storage problem, requiring 2/3 of the winter road
budget to truck away and put into huge mounds that don't melt until the
middle of summer, leaving behind a hideous mess, not mention saturating
the soil with salt and other car-borne toxic substances.)
And when packed snow can be assured on the sidewalks, it is the most
glorious walking surface, slightly buoyant and having great traction. I
use rubber overshoes, which wear out much faster on a cleared sidewalk
surface than packed snow.