Thursday, January 8, 2009

Summer Commute

There is a wind chill of -30 outside right now. I have not been cycling very much for fun, and rarely at night. The snow narrows the streets, traffic is worsened by the transit strike, and I am stuck at home with a thesis to write. When I do get out, it is usually to work #1 in the government sector across the Canal, to work #2 in an other government area of Sussex Drive, or to Carleton University. In the fall I would sometimes change my route to school by taking the multi-use path along the Canal, but I have been staying on main streets since those have the best snow removal.

I am missing my summer commute. I live in Lower Town and was working in a non-profit social services agency in Hintonburg (apparently the next "big" place in Ottawa). I was able to cycle along the Ottawa River along with many other cyclists and walkers. This route took my through some of the most scenic and famous parks of Ottawa: Byward Market, Rideau Canal, Parliament of Canada, Canadian War Museum and gave me a lovely view across the river to Quebec.

It's not all sceneic. When I tell people that I commute by bike, the first thing I hear is the danger. It's true:

Sometimes there are goose traffic jams! I thought it would be interesting to show a map of my summer route. I also took a French class in the south end of Ottawa during the summer, mostly because Carleton did not offer anything at my (extreamly low) level, and it was cheap. Free for non-citizens, but also cheap for Canadians.
The blue line is the route I took along the Ottawa River between home and work. This was back when I was still shelling out for a transit pass, so I would take my bike on the local light-rail service (marked by Google with train tracks) from very close to my work, through Carleton, and all the way south to the end station. This saved me time and allowed me to avoid the most congested areas of the city during rush hour. Then I had a short ride through a suburb, surprisingly with a bike lane. That's the green line. After French class I would ride home along Altavista, which also has a bike lane, connect to the Rideau River pathway (different river than before), cross it and loop back onto the little cul-de-sac that I live on. It totally about two hours round-trip, though I never did it at once since I would ride to my job, work, ride/rail to class, attempt to learn French and then ride home. And collapse.

I doubt I will be cycling as far any time soon. I work downtown now and can take French classes through my new job. I do look forward to more lazy, evening rides along the river in the Ottawa humidity. Picking up speed is the only way to cope with the heat.

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