Marie Lemay actually does seem to be walking the walk. The CEO of the National Capital Commission was part of a panel on cycling coordinated by David Byrne at the last Writers Festival, and I spoke to her briefly afterward about the paths, winter commuting, and other urban cycling. It seemed like she really was committed to making Ottawa even more bike-friendly than it already is: and this even given that she isn't, herself, an 'avid' cyclist. And this morning I spotted this article by the Citizen's Kate Jaimet on the NCC's plans to send a delegation, along with representatives from the City of Ottawa, to the Velo-City Global 2010 Conference in Copenhagen.
I like that Lemay seems to have realized that biking could be made a whole lot easier in this town if the City and the NCC put their heads together. And I liked that the realization that they need to actually sit down and think logically, from a cyclist's perspective, about cycling infrastructure, came when BIXI did their test run here last summer. They looked at a map of the city and said, well, okay, we'll put stations here and here, and then people who actually knew the lay of the land - from a cyclist's perspective - said, no, you can't do that, people will get hurt. Now they need to take that and apply it to situations like the path/bike route connections.
(This morning, on my way from Carleton University to Vanier, I biked south on Bronson, crossed Riverside at the bridge over the Rideau River, took the ramp down and around to Riverside heading east, and then pulled up at the side of the road - a four-lane parkway - to scout for oncoming cars and duck across it. Then hopped over the edge of the road, crossed a dozen feet or so of grass, and turned on to the Riverside pathway. Now really. People wouldn't want to get on the bike path from Carleton campus without having to play chicken with an SUV? Where's the pedestrian bridge?)
So here's hoping one of the city's councillors can see their way clear to going to Copenhagen with her, and with the mayor of Gatineau. I'd say I hoped Mayor Larry would go, but I can only suspend disbelief so far. But with luck he'll send someone from Council, not just a staffer. The city's put in dozens of useful bike racks this spring: that encourages me. People really are thinking of making Ottawa a bike town. At least, it looks that way.