Dream start of 45th NCC Sunday Bike Day Season

It seemed like everyone was out cycling yesterday. Sunday May 17 was the first day of the Alcatel Lucent NCC Sunday Bike Days. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sunday, sunny, low humidity (under 40%) and 24 C/75F by 5 pm. And the numbers showed it: over 5000 bike rides were counted near Canal Ritz on the Sunday before Victoria Day Monday by the underground bike counters, and many more were cycling on the road as the paths were overcrowded.

It was one of those perfect days in Ottawa. The NCC (a federal agency) closes 25 km of roads in Ottawa and 27 km in Gatineau Park. The NCC does that for 45 years now and this is perhaps one of the first Cyclovia initiatives in the world.

Not only does the NCC do that since 1970, they close the roads between Victoria Day (mid May) until Labour Day (early September) every Sunday. Polling showed that Ottawa Citizens are really happy with that initiative. Many of us would like to see the bike days extend further into the day (roads open again at 1 pm). I think I learned that the NCC is going to close stretches of road on certain weekday evenings in Gatineau Park too.

We went out for a bike ride along Colonel By Drive (closed for traffic), then dropped by at the Tulip Festival in Commissioners Park and then towards Lansdowne Park to show the New Urbanist Development to my sister-in-law from St. Catherines, but born and raised in Ottawa.

The Farm is a great connector from Fisher Heights to canal.
The Farm is a great connector from Fisher Heights to the canal.

 

We were meeting up with my sister in law from St. Catherines.
We were meeting up near Clegg with my sister-in-law from St. Catherines.

 

At 9.30 it was still fairly quiet.
At 9.30 am it was still fairly quiet.

 

But soon more and more people came out. This is the stretch along the canal in Ottawa South.
But soon more and more people came out. This is the stretch along the canal in Ottawa South.

 

The tulips are on their last legs, but from a distance they still look good.
The tulips are on their last legs, but from a distance they still look good.

 

Watching the canal filling up.
Watching the canal filling up.

 

One of the few places where it is easy to get your canoe or kayak on the water.
One of the few places where it is easy to get your canoe or kayak in the canal.

 

The arboretum was at its best this week.
The arboretum was at its best this week.

 

Irritated drivers who got stuck at the parking lot off Prince of Wales. Blocking cross walks and bike lanes.
Irritated drivers who got stuck at the parking lot off Prince of Wales, blocking cross walks and bike lanes.

 

Bike parking at the Tulip Festival in Commissioners Park.
Bike parking at the Tulip Festival in Commissioners Park.

 

More bike parking at the tulip festival.
More bike parking at the tulip festival.

 

Artsy picture along Dow's Lake.
Artsy picture along Dow’s Lake.

 

Lots of people walked their bikes into the park. In at one end, out at the other end.
Lots of people walked their bikes into the park. In at one end, out at the other end.

 

E-bike? yeah right. Where are the pedals?
E-bike?

 

Busy taking photos, I lost the family, but there they were again.
Busy taking photos, I lost the family, but there they are again.

 

I saw more tandems today, then in my 17 years in Ottawa.
I saw more tandems today then in my 17 years in Ottawa.

 

Are tandems becoming a thing?
Are tandems becoming a thing?

 

Frustration in the car. Back ups from Bronson to Preston on the QE Drive. At least 20 minutes I would guess.
Frustration in the car. Back ups from Bronson to Preston on the QE Drive. At least 20 minutes I would guess. Also from Carling southbound into Prince of Wales. Tons of illegally parked cars on Prince of Wales. In the bike lane, ironically.

 

Tons of people taking tons of pictures in this public space.
Tons of people taking tons of pictures in this public space.

 

Bike racks were full at Lansdowne Park for the park and the Farmers Market.
Bike racks were full at Lansdowne Park for the park and the Farmers Market.

 

City Planner Sam Roberts happened to cycle through my panorama photo. He bought bread and veggies at the Farmers Market.
City Planner Sam Roberts happened to cycle through my panorama photo. He bought bread and veggies at the Farmers Market.

 

Line ups at the Hartwell Locks in order to cross the canal.
Line ups at the Hartwell Locks in order to cross the canal. “It was crazy” said CfSC board member Simone.

 

Just as busy at the other side of the Locks.
Just as busy at the other side of the Locks.

Back home, I enjoyed the suburban sound of table saws, lawnmowers and the neighbour’s radio. But still, what a gorgeous day. I am looking forward to the bike counter starts along the canal pathway near Canal Ritz.

On Twitter people tweeted comments and photos on how incredibly busy it was. It appeared the pathways were bursting at the seams. That is a good thing. The pressure is on for more and better walking and bike infrastructure. And the NCC and the Tulip Festival should sit around the table and discuss the traffic situation around Dow’s Lake and encourage people to take other means of transport than the car. And even close QE drive during the weekends for private vehicles, combined with proper detours.

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3 thoughts on “Dream start of 45th NCC Sunday Bike Day Season

  1. What a lovely, celebratory post! Thanks Hans. This spring has been such a gift for cycling. It’s more and more evident that it’s the ideal way to get around and enjoy life in Ottawa. Posts like this go long way to convincing decision makers to continue to plan for and invest in cycling and walking infrastructure as driving and parking becomes a nuisance for everyone.

    Have a lovely holiday Monday! Kathleen

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. Hans, nice pictures and it sounds like you all had alot of fun. Winnipeg just announced a large Alternative Transportation plan with lots of money and major changes to city planning. But some councillors now are waffling on their support trying to claim points for slow progress due to major changes. New Mayor wants to hold off a little too since he is slow to realize his role in moving forward. He is a lawyer after all – not too fast, please. So the fight continues, with the Deputy Mayor – Janice Lukes holding the torch. Great news for the Peg City.

    Bob Krul

    Like

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