Fall Cycling in Ottawa - Riding visible and predictable
Keeping the wheels rolling as the weather gets cooler
By guest blogger Kathleen Wilker
On Nov 3, 2013 Tucker House, EnviroCentre and Citizens for Safe Cycling presented a screening of Bike City, Great City at the Mayfair Theatre. A diverse panel representing seniors, parents, youth and children encouraged the audience to boost their confidence by learning what to wear to stay dry and warm and how to ride visibly and predictably as the season changes.
The panel included Evan from Bushtukah, who offered tips on clothing, helmets and lights for late fall cycling. Samantha McGavin, a mother of a three-year-old, shared insights on riding with her daughter using both a front seat and a long tail bicycle. Samantha’s front seat includes a wind shield to keep her daughter warm and it’s transferable between her bike and her partner’s bike, making it an easy way to share pick-ups and drop-offs at daycare.
Tamara Nahal, co-founder of Carleton University’s new cycling advocacy and riding group, CU Cycling, offered a student’s perspective on riding as a convenient solution to travelling between home, work and school, especially when making bus connections that involve longer travel times. Tamara recommended using a designated ‘winter bike’ for snow and ice to avoid damaging your regular bike with exposure to ice and salt. Chris Bradshaw, active transportation advocate, spoke about considerations seniors can take to extend their riding season, noting that balance is a key issue for seniors and also noting that if they are retired, seniors can take advantage of riding outside of rush hour.
Kathleen Wilker, board member of Citizens for Safe Cycling and co-chair of the Hintonburg Cycling Champions, along with her 10-year-old daughter, Anna Sierra Heffernan-Wilker, offered insights into safe riding with children who’ve graduated from riding on their parents’ bikes to riding their own bikes. Young audience members enjoyed seeing a big kid on stage to identify with.
Highlights from the panel included the following tips for riding predictably and visibly:
- Ride in a straight line (one metre to the left of the curb or parked cars) so that drivers and other cyclists can see you and know what to expect,
- Don’t weave in and out of parked cars
- Use white front lights and red rear lights
- Communicate your turns really clearly as drivers may have a harder time seeing you in the dark
- Choose quiet streets or pathways as safe routes to share with young riders
- Wear a cycling helmet, designed to protect your head against a single impact, instead of a ski or hockey helmet designed for multiple crashes
- Carry your belongings in panniers for better stability
- Put a studded winter tire on the front wheel of your bike for better grip in icy conditions
- If you are using a bike trailer, attach a flag and lights to the back of it so that motorists can see it
And the following great ideas about staying warm and dry as the weather turns colder:
- Dress in layers
- Choose breathable layers closer to your skin
- Choose water-proof outer layers
- Wear a thin balaclava under your helmet to keep your ears, cheeks and chin warm
- Use ski goggles to keep your eyes warm in cold and wind and to keep debris out of your eyes
- Keep your feet warm and dry by wearing winter boots or water-proof bootie covers that Velcro closed over cycling shoes
- Wear leg warmers and rain pants to keep your legs warm
- Bundle children who are passengers on your bike in extra layers since they aren’t moving
A fun, interactive intermission activity led by Dan Fleming of EnviroCentre challenged a few audience members to close their eyes and stretch out their arms to illustrate one metre. Then they opened their eyes and Dan measured their guesses against a one metre measuring tape. Most people over estimated the distance, reconfirming the need for increased awareness of the City of Ottawa’s “1 metre is a safe passing distance” campaign.
One metre is the minimum distance recommended by the City of Ottawa for a) a motorist safely passing a cyclist, b) a cyclist to stay out of the door zone of a parked car and c) a cyclist passing a pedestrian on a pathway.
After giving away some cycling door prizes from Bushtukah and Joe Mamma, and some further discussion among the audience, everyone headed home. On their way out, audience members received City of Ottawa cycling safety information about the one metre safe passing rule, avoiding the door zone and how to use sharrows as a guide to safely share the road.
Nov/Dec 2013 Lunch and Learn “Road Safety Tips for Drivers and Cyclists”
New bumper magnets "I Bike. I Drive. Let's share the road"
Keep an eye out in spring 2014 for these great new bumper magnets from EnviroCentre, the City of Ottawa and Safer Roads Ottawa. Available in French or English.
Is your bike already in hibernation? This fall, remember the “1 metre rule” for cyclists and drivers:
When cycling, prevent dooring by riding in a straight, visible and predictable line at least one metre to the left of parked cars. When driving, prevent dooring by parking close to the curb and checking for cyclists before opening a door.
Sharrows remind everyone to share the road safely and predictably by letting drivers and cyclists know if there is enough space to ride side-by-side, with one metre between cars and bikes, or if cyclists and motorists need to ride single file. When riding on a road with sharrows, cyclists should position themselves over the centre of the sharrow, which will be at least one metre away from the curb or from parked cars.
One metre is a safe passing distance, on roads and pathways. Motorists should wait for a safe break in traffic and then pass at least one metre away from cyclists. On pathways, cyclists should also wait for a safe break in oncoming foot or bike traffic and should then pass at least one metre away from pedestrians, giving pedestrians a friendly heads up by ringing their bell or by saying ‘passing on your left.’
2013 Plaid Parade (this Sunday Oct 27)Make sure you check out this year's Ottawa Plaid Parade. Details can be found over at Urban Commuter.
Video from last year
A whole lot of knowledge coming at you!
As part of this year`s Sustainable Transportation Week (STW), coming up September 16 to 22, we`ll be featuring a series of guest blog posts on the STW website to highlight the many transportation options here in Ottawa.
Remember the Bike-Bus-Car Challenge? It'll be back this year, with a different route. Photo from CTV Ottawa.
From walking to carpooling, our guest bloggers will share the benefits of choosing sustainable transportation to get to school, to work, run errands, or just for fun. Whether you`re a student wondering about cycling on campus or an employee looking for a carpool group, we hope these blog posts will inspire you to "shift gears" and try something new for your travel needs.
Blog posts will be going up bi-weekly starting the next week (August 26). Be sure to check the website for the latest information and tips from Ottawa residents just like you!
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