FW: [CfSC] Ottawa cycles with gusto
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Ottawa cycles with gusto
The Ottawa Citizen
Monday, April 21, 2003
One of the little successes of the City of Ottawa is that this community
is one of the most bicycle-friendly communities in Canada. That's
something to celebrate as the spring sun comes out and we pull the bikes
out of the garage.
It wasn't always this way. Ottawa's transportation system was geared to
cars and buses for a long time. Cyclists were squeezed against sidewalks
by oblivious motorists who didn't think they deserved to share the road.
But Ottawa and Gatineau have become a capital cycling centre through
such things as the National Capital Commission's recreational pathway
system. Ottawa has helped things along by encouraging the installation
of bicycle racks all through the city. OC Transpo now has bike racks on
more than 200 of its buses to make life easier for commuters, and
cyclists may even get a ride with their bikes on the north-south
O-Train. The city has a pilot project under way at Fallowfield,
Greenboro and Place d'OrlÃ©ans transitway stations to provide lockers to
cyclists. Where once cyclists felt unwelcome, they are now encouraged.
Even on major transportation projects cyclists are remembered in the
city's plans. Big roads such as Hunt Club -- hardly hospitable territory
for cyclists -- have dedicated cycling lanes, which make this mode of
transportation considerably safer and more pleasurable. That's a major
change for transportation engineers who have been building big roads.
Some Ottawa police patrol on bikes. Some people cycle even after the
snow is flying.
The trend to cycling has all kinds of benefits. The obvious one is
heightened levels of fitness for families, and especially office workers
and students, whose days are often sedentary. Huffing, puffing and fresh
air is all to be encouraged if we want to live healthy, longer lives.
Cycling gives young people mobility, something they often don't
otherwise have in many of our auto-oriented neighbourhoods. Cycling also
diffuses the mass of traffic in our community, and that's going to get a
lot more important in the next 20 years. If we have 400,000 or so more
people going to settle in Ottawa during that time, and there isn't going
to be a lot more road-building in the central area, we need people to
use a variety of modes of transportation. That will obviously include
cars and buses, but must also include people opting to do some walking
or cycling. If we don't foster these alternatives, we'll face endless
traffic jams with cars.
There are some problems with our bicycle culture. A fair number of
cyclists ride on sidewalks, which upsets many pedestrians and can
present a safety hazard. Some cyclists fail to obey traffic lights and
stop signs. But these are quibbles. Ottawa's cycling story is mostly a
successful celebration of the city's beautiful outdoors. Ottawans would
rather be cycling. © Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen