We ride the last Friday of every month all year round. Meet at confederation park (elgin and laurier) at 5:30, ride leaves at 6pm!

This is a team blog. To join the team (and get access to post and/or administer the site), email criticalmassottawa@gmail.com

Saturday, August 26, 2006

CM August: press and police, oh my!

Police talking to riders on Bronson
Reporter running along side the riders

Turned out to be an interesting ride last night, with invlovement from the press and the police! Did anyone catch the news cast?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Critical Mass Friday 25 August

Hey everyone,

Just to remind you, Critical Mass is this upcoming Friday. Bring you bike, longboard, rollerblades, skateboard, unicycle, trailer, tricycle, wheelchair or other non-motorised (exception for wheelchairs) vehicle and gather at 5:30pm at the fountain in Confederation Park (Elgin & Laurier, downtown Ottawa) for a super snakey ride. It's always friendly so don't worry if you don't know anyone else who's going, I promise you will by the end!

Is there a theme for this month? I dno't remember.

At any rate I hope to see everyone there!


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Dear Ottawa Police

Dear Ottawa Police Service,

In the last few days I've read two articles related to police targetingpeople who are cyclists. I'm concerned by what I read.

The first related to a "crack down" on people who cycle at night -- becauseaccording to the article police have found that they are a source of crime(might I add that I've never heard police announce a "crack down" on caruse at night). The second article, below, again describes how the OttawaPolice Service isn't making things easy for cyclists. In this case, yourconcern seems to be with cyclists infringing into pedestrian space. I would be very excited if you would show similar concern about carsinfringing the space of pedestrians or cyclists -- like those motorists whocut me off every time I try to use a crosswalk.

So my question for you is multi-part, and you may not be able to answer all of it right now. If anything, I hope to get you and your colleagues thinking:

1. Is the Ottawa Police Service is knowingly making these efforts to, ineffect, dissuade the travelling public from choosing to cycle?

2. Is the Service aware of the effect this sustained negative publicity toward cycling can have on the public's perception of cycling as a viabile choice for commuting or just "getting around?"

3. Does the Service understand that there are much larger issues than policing at play here -- notably public acceptance of this more sustainableand city-friendly mode of transportation/ healthy cities/ inviting places to live?

4. Are you going to start thinking about these broader issues when you undertake policing initiatives?

Thanks and warm regards,

A Bad turn on Pretoria bridge
David Reevely,
The Ottawa Citizen

Periodically, the Ottawa police set up on the Pretoria Bridge, which
ticketing people for biking on the bridge's sidewalks.

This month, the police are putting extra focus on cycling lawbreakers, apolice spokeswoman said on Friday, though she couldn\'t say whether they'd been particularly busy on the Pretoria bridge last week. Still, the Citizen got two letters complaining about it the same morning. Something wasdefinitely up.

The Pretoria Bridge is the easiest way to get a bike across the waterwaybetween Carleton University and the Ottawa River. It's low, so there's no steep uphill climb or stairs to contend with. All the other bridges (Bronson Avenue, Bank Street, Laurier Avenue, Mackenzie King) are so elevated that a cyclist has to circle around through roads and ramps that resemble highway clover leaves to get on and off; getting from the path to the Pretoria Bridge is more like taking a simple off-ramp.

When you reach the end of the ramp, the trouble begins. Unless you comeoff the bike path and hit a green light, the temptation to turn onto thesidewalk and keep your momentum is powerful. If you use the bridge sidewalkto get from the path on one bank of the canal to the path on the other, andobey the law in every way, you're in for a long dipsy-doodle around thetraffic islands at the west end. They're there so that turning a car fromPretoria Avenue onto Queen Elizabeth Drive (or vice-versa) is easy, smooth and quick. Pedestrians, pushing bikes or not, get the shaft.

If the police give you a ticket for riding on the sidewalk, there's nopretending you didn't see the signs. There are four, each set off by abrightly flashing yellow light. They all say "Please walk your bike on the sidewalk," which actually suggests not doing so is legal, if rude.

Even if the signs were firmer, it's hardly a fair fight -- like dropping the speed limit on a stretch of wide arterial road to 40 km/h for noobvious reason, then waiting to nab the speeders. The law's the law, but it's an ass.

I watched the bike traffic cross the bridge at an afternoon rush hour atthe end of last week. Most cyclists used the road; there are no bike lanes,but the road is wide enough to be generally safe. Of 22 who took theirbikes on the sidewalk while I watched, 17 rode and only five (including awoman and the young girl with her) walked them. Fifteen minutes there wouldhave yielded the police $595 worth of tickets, if they could write themthat fast.

Presumably the no-bikes-on-sidewalks law is to protect pedestrians,though the Pretoria Bridge\'s sidewalks are wide enough to accommodate both.An afternoon\'s cyclist-hunting would pay for a lot of paint. The city couldput lines on each of the bridge\'s sidewalks. Cyclists over here,pedestrians over here, problem solved. (Even without the lines, the hazardis nothing like that posed by pedestrians walking on the wrong side of thepaths by the canal itself; the National Capital Commission commandeered all the best cycling routes in the city yet refuses to take responsibility forthem as the commuting routes they are. But that's a different column.)

The new footbridge over the canal, midway between the Pretoria andMackenzie King bridges, is explicitly meant to take bikes. Wojciech Gryz, one of the project's managers, says the footbridge is to open at the end of September.

"It will be divided into two lanes, each two-and-a-half metres wide, and pedestrians and cyclists will share," Gryz says. "There won't be any signs, and they won't have to get off their bicycles."

So on the footbridge, it'll be OK for walkers and bikers to mix. On the Pretoria Bridge, it's a ticketing offence. The Pretoria Bridge sidewalk trap is a minor annoyance, but it's the sum of such annoyances that makes for a transportation problem. The Spacing Wire website (www.spacing.ca/wire), which reports on urban transportationand other uses of public space in Canada (particularly Toronto), last week mentioned an Singapore-based group called iwant2bike2work.org, a cycling lobby whose elegant mission is "To make bike commuting so convenient, it's irresistible." Wouldn't be a bad motto for a city transportation department desperate to lessen congestion.

Spacing Wire also notes that Toronto is starting an experiment with a bike-locker program. For $10 a month, you can rent a fully enclosed one-bicycle space at one of several strategic spots around the city, with a door locked with a city-supplied key. The idea is these lockers will bemore secure than locking a bike to a parking meter or post and leaving itthere all day, and will save riders the trouble of stripping off and hauling into work all the easily snatched parts of a commuter bicycle --seat, front wheel, air pump, water bottle, panniers -- that a lock doesn't protect.

Meanwhile, we're practically entrapping cyclists for doing something on one bridge that's about to be legal on another. Toronto is serious about non-auto commuting. Ottawa isn't yet.

David Reevely is a member of the Citizen's editorial board and a good-weather bicycle commuter.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Sharing Administration of Blog, ottawacriticalmass Email, DA Bike Collective Listserve


A number of people who have taken the lead in administering some of the "tools" we use to communicate critical mass in ottawa are leaving the city this month (myself included). If anyone is able to help out by contributing to some of these tasks, we can ensure the sustainability of these important communication functions.

Specifically, I am looking for (1) more people to help administer the blog (there are already several in addition to myself); and (2) someone/ some people to check the ottawacriticalmass email regularly (mainly to allow new people to join the blog team by sending them invitations, as well as sending out reminder emails before the monthly ride)

The administrator of the DA Bike Collective Listserve, Martin, is looking for someone to take that over as well (which involves moderating certain emails as well as allowing new people into the list serve)

If anyone is interested please email ottawacriticalmass@gmail.com or dabikecollectiveottawa@lists.resist.ca

Cheers! Naomi

PS if anyone has other ideas on how to communicate critical mass better, feel free to respond/adapt/evolve. This is our ride, so we can make it happen!