Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Welcome back, River Path...

This morning I was on my way to work, heading down Bank Street, and stopped at the light at the Riverside intersection. A cyclist crossed in front of me heading down the River Path, and I watched her for a moment, did some quick predictive calculations, and decided to gamble that the path would be clear enough to navigate on my way to work. And as I was already running a little late, and I knew it was a shorter route, I turned off onto the pathway at Riverside for the first time since... late November, I believe.

The happy stars around where the path leaves the cars behind and strikes off alongside the river in the picture to the left are meant to indicate how I felt about finally being back on this path.

The canal path is fine, but it's crowded with joggers and dogwalkers, the intersection you have to negotiate to get on it is nasty, it's longer, and I still have to get back on the street to run down Laurier through U of O campus, and then brave Montreal Road at Vanier (one of the seven most dangerous intersections for cyclists in the city.) The Riverside path lets me leave motor traffic behind about a mile from my house, and only rejoin it about a half mile from work: and it's peaceful, largely untravelled between Smyth Road and the Overbrook neighbourhood, and there are ducks, geese, and redwinged blackbirds already out and going about their business along the riverbank. It's sheltered from the wind, too, through the forested patches, and it looks to me like it's actually been swept and cleared as far as Smyth.

Once you get into the wooded sections, it's true, there are still patches of crumbly, grainy ice crystals that you need to slow down to get across - usually there are tracks worn through them or even little channels of bare pavement, but it's still a little tricky. And in Parc Riverain, near Montreal Road, the river has flooded to cover half the path in spots. But it's more than a month ahead of last year, when I first started trying to take the path in mid-April and found it much more snow-covered and a lot harder to get through than it is now. It's been a seriously dry winter, and a warm spring so far.

I'm back on my bike path!

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