Sunday Bike Days are packed, but a city councillor thinks Ottawa can do better.
“(Ottawa) has tremendous recreational bicycling, said Coun. Clive Doucet. “But we don’t have great commuting bicycling. And we want to change this.”
Doucet helped to launch the first annual Bike to Work Week at city hall Monday.
Held through Friday, Bike to Work Week “is a great opportunity to promote a new form of cycling, getting to work on your bicycle,” said Doucet, an avid cyclist.
“When I was in Europe, one of the things that stunned me...you’d be walking to work and there would be as many bikes on the street as there were cars, and sometimes more.
“It’s a new thing for Ottawans to think about biking to work,” said Doucet. “Only 1.5 per cent of people normally bicycle to work…Yet 33 per cent of our trips are five kilometers or less. That’s perfect cycling distance, and yet we’re only capturing a tiny fraction of those cyclists and the reason of course… is that people are frightened. No one wants to get killed going to work. Unfortunately, a lot of our roads are just too narrow and too dangerous right now.”
The city is working on making changes, Doucet said.
Last year, Ottawa invested $16 million in cycling projects, “a record number of investments,” Doucet said.
The city is also studying two new bridges to span the Rideau River and the Rideau Canal, as well as looking into segregated bike lanes across the city. Community meetings to gather feedback begin this week.
A delegation is also planning a trip to Copenhagen, where 50 per cent of the population relies on bikes, to see what changes can be made here in Ottawa, Doucet said.
Bike to Work Week activities include a lunch and learn workshop at City Hall on Wednesday and a barbecue and free bike tune-ups from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 156 Bank St. Thursday.