A Bike Commute

In the summer I like to ride my bike to work. It isn’t far for me, and it’s a great way to build some exercise into the day, plus it saves me a bundle in bus fare too, which helps support my coffee habit. It’s win-win you see.

It is when I create posts like this that I wish I had some talent as a photographer, but because I don’t, I will have to rely on my clever, yet understated sense of humour to make this post mildly entertaining. Cripes, sorry folks.

Anyhow, in the mornings I like to take the most direct route to work, because shorter is better when your building doesn’t have changerooms or showers, and nowhere to even plug in a hair appliance. Trust me, this matters on the days when my sweaty helmet head makes me gasp in horror when I get into the mirrored elevator, and even more so when my elevator mates gasp in horror at me. It is then that I know that I’m in for an overall bad hair day and nothing I can do with just a brush and a mirror will make it better. I have been known to take the bus on the days when it is already 25C and 100% humidity  at 7:30am in order to avoid this problem.

Construction is always the theme for summer in Ottawa, but this year there is even more than usual. I  have been having to come up with creative ways to leave my neighbourhood in the morning and to find my house again at the end of the day.



Who knew I would need a mountain bike in city traffic?




This part of the road is closed, but I can fit through these pylons.
Hurray for being rebellious AND riding with no traffic.



This has made finding my house a little challenging.

Once I get past the construction, this gateway to Chinatown always makes me smile.



This picture really doesn’t do this archway justice.


Early in the biking season I was very excited about the segregated bike lanes being built as a pilot project on Laurier Avenue. Laurier was a part of my regular route anyway and I was looking forward to not having to play “dodge the car stopped in the no stopping zone”, and “avoid the car doors opening in front of you” games. Of course, now the city has lost what could have been a very lucrative source of income. If cars had been ticketed more often for stopping in the no stopping zones during rush hour, we could have had this light rail gig paid for by now.

Opening soon.



It took a while, but they finally opened to much celebration from downtown cyclists.



I’m a big fan already.





It is pretty popular with other cyclists too.




Is it just me, or does this planter not add beauty?

 There has been a lot written about these bike lanes, and I think they are a great addition to an already very bikeable city. When I’m riding in these lanes, I really do think that I am safer because the lanes are completely segregated from car traffic. It is good for the city for cyclists to feel safer because it means more people will be downtown with fewer cars. I’m not completely sold on the way you are suggested to make left turns with these lanes though. I am quite used to taking my lane and making my left turn as a car would, but if I use the lanes, then I need to go straight through the light, and then wait for the perpendicular light to turn green so that I can complete my turn. This isn’t great for me on a one way street where I actually want to be in the left-most lane to get to my building, but because there are periodic gaps in the barriers, I still have the option to turn the old way. I have tried both so far, and I will probably continue to use both depending on the lights and traffic on the particular day.

After work and on the way home, I like to mix it up a little and take the Ottawa River bike path. The network of bikepaths throughout Ottawa are just fantabulous. But first I have to get to it. Heading in the direction of Parliament Hill gives me this great view.
Seriously, will someone please give a blogger some
 photography lessons?

From here I can turn left onto Wellington Street and ride with the cars and buses to Bank Street, which I am actually comfortable doing, but if I just cross the street and go onto Parliament Hill, I can ride parallel to Wellington St. and be away from all of the traffic. This second option was working out very well until I was stopped by the RCMP on my way home on Thursday evening. Never having gotten so much as a speeding ticket before, this was a first for me, and I was feeling kind of cool and badassed about it. I was told by the friendly but firm officer that I was not allowed to ride my bike there, and that I must ride my bike on the sidewalk running alongside this small road. I questioned this; wasn’t my bike considered to be a vehicle according to the law? She told me that on Parliament Hill I was considered a pedestrian. I need to check this out, but does anyone know if this is really true? Perhaps they want to keep unauthorized bicycles off of the road in case of an emergency, but it seems a little odd to me.
I really don’t want to get yelled at by the lovely tourists and pedestrians on the sidewalks of parliament hill, so I’m trying to figure out an alternate route. It isn’t easy with all of the one-way streets downtown.
 At Bank Street, I can turn and head down this hill
Wheeee!

After a hairpin turn:
Wheeee, part 2!
And shortly after:
Wheeeee Part 3!
This hill is a lot bigger in person than it looks like here. If the corner to get onto the path wasn’t somewhat blind, I think that I could make it half way home without pedalling.
Even on the pathways though, there are problems. In the spring, these little cuties created some traffic jams.
Aw fluffy wuffy goosie woosies.
By the time they became teenagers, they knew better how to stay at the side of the path.
See them there in the shadows?

Bluesfest has been on and I managed to catch Tegan and Sara practicing.

I like them, but are Tegan and Sara really blues?



And then the most beautiful spot in the whole ride. The first shot was taken about a month ago, and the second was just the other day. I feel very lucky to live in Ottawa.

Happy (bike) Trails!
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About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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12 Responses to A Bike Commute

  1. Anonymous says:

    Don't take photos into the sun or you subject will appear in full shadow (unless that's what you're looking for).

  2. Bibliomama says:

    Yeah – you'll have to bike to work at night to get better pictures (wtf?). You're so brave – I'm afraid to bike anywhere near cars, and even more afraid of sweaty helmet head.

  3. Finola says:

    Anonymous, I see my problem – that I am commuting in the wrong direction! Plus, I don't seem to be able to notice buses in my way.

    Bibliomana, The helmet head is pretty horrific some days. I am not sure how much biking I will do this week coming!

  4. Eileen says:

    Whaddya mean, you wish you had some talent as a photographer? Your pictures are great.

    As someone whose bike-riding days are far behind me, I enjoyed the virtual ride through your account.

    If you have to be a law-breaker, I'm glad it was the RCMP that stopped you. If it had been the OPP they'd probably have beaten you up!

  5. Finola says:

    Eileen, Thanks Mom 🙂 And regarding the RCMP and OPP, I wouldn't be surprised one bit about that. I did in fact approach the RCMP car very cautiously, even when I couldn't hear what she was saying and she asked me to come closer. You just never know these days.

  6. We also have many initiatives here in the States to make cities more bike-friendly. We live in a rural area, but I'm all for making neighborhoods safer for cyclists, pedestrians, and drivers. A win-win-win, I think.

    Next time around, I think we need a picture of the helmet head. 🙂

  7. I Lolled at the captions! (even if some of the photos were a bit 😐 … Looks like a great commute, not to mention a sweet blog. gonna go check out some other posts.

  8. Finola says:

    Kristin, I will consider posting a pic next time I bike…this week is too hot for me!

    UrbanRidingTips, Helloooo to Australia and thanks for stopping by. I have gone to your blog and love it. And I really want to know where you stand on the helmet issue!

  9. Sid. says:

    Considering you were biking and taking pics at the same time I think those are great photos! Weird about getting in trouble for riding on the “road” on the Hill and your description of how you're forced to take a left on Laurier now sounds nuts. I don't know how people can expect bicyclists to know how to follow the rules and ride properly when they keep changing them. I envy your longer bike ride (mine's only about 5 minutes) – too bad you don't have showers at work though!

  10. Sasha says:

    Photo prowess or no, I still enjoyed the tour. But where is that hairpin turn? I can't place it. Is that the Supreme Court in the background?

  11. Finola says:

    Sid, I did actually stop my bike to take the pics…now I have no good excuse.

    Sasha, Yes, It's just to the West and behind parliament hill. Honest, it's super steep and fun!

  12. LBJ says:

    On a somewhat unrelated note, geese = terrifying.

    Anyway – Ottawa looks like a great place to ride. I got a Montague folding bike this summer, and am looking for places to roadtrip to on the east coast, before winter sets in. I was thinking about Montreal, since I've heard great things about their bike lanes, but Ottawa is giving it a pretty good run for its money. And thanks for the pics!

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