Friday, January 28, 2011

Midnight in the Market

My dad sent me this picture: he took it in Fredericton. Seemed appropriate.

I was out in the Market this evening for Once Upon a Slam, and went out to Zack's afterwards with some friends, leaving Mike locked to a street sign in the snow. When we got back to where I'd parked him - my friends had offered to put him in the trunk of their car and give me a lift home - I had a momentary scare: I didn't see him.

There were a bunch of bikes parked outside the Mercury Lounge, and I walked past one that seemed to have a rear fender (Mike doesn't, which explains the crazy amount of grit splattered over the back of my jacket) and to another streetsign that had three bikes attached to it, locked and tangled. "Wait a sec," I said to the friend I was walking with. "None of those are... Mike's not there..."

I had a terrible sinking moment of fear that the unthinkable had happened, that someone had stolen my bike. And then I walked back over to the one I'd passed, and with relief, realized what I'd seen hadn't been a fender, it was his back rack. It was Mike. As covered in snow as he was, I guess I didn't automatically recognize him.

So, hooray: I unlocked the bike and wheeled him to my friends' car and loaded him in the back, commenting that it was probably a very good thing he hadn't been the bike in the middle of the three attached to the signpost. And then it hit us: as they said on the way to the car, "You know, midnight on Friday night, January 28th, in a snowstorm, and that many bikes parked in the Market... that's pretty good."

Which really struck me. People keep talking about how much Ottawa needs to be made more bike-friendly. But I keep seeing evidence that it already is. It's January. It was a filthy, gritty, slushy day to be out on a bike today. Trust me, I've washed a half cup of road grit and salt off myself and out of my hair today, just from biking across town and back, and down to the Market. It was snowing, at midnight tonight, and about 10 below zero, and yet there were so many bikes parked outside the Mercury Lounge that I had trouble picking mine out of the lineup at first.

Don't try to tell me Ottawa's not a biking town.


  1. It's relative. Ottawa is a town where there is a growing number of cyclists. That is because cycling is cheap, fun, efficient and green. It is not because Ottawa is a cycling town.

    Of all the places I have lived, Ottawa is by far the least bike friendly. Drivers and buses are more agressive here and since there are nice recreational paths, people mistakenly claim that there is a bike infrastructure. They honk and cut me off accordingly when they drive by on the road.

    There are definitely more cyclists out this year than last. When it was -30C, I crossed 5 other commuters on my way into work. That would never have happened last year.

    Hooray! Go cycling! The more we are the safer and more cycling friendly this town will be.

  2. I think Ottawa is a great cycling city - and I think Ottawa drivers are very courteous.

    If 1 in 1000 drivers is a PITA - well that just proves my point...

  3. Rob Ford has committed to dedicated cycling lanes crossing Toronto N-S and E-W. If Ottawa can't support a trial bike lane on Laurier for 10 blocks, then it indicates that a majority of us are more anti-cycling than Rob Ford. So that would be 1 in 2 PITAs, not 1 in 1000.