Two months ago a fairly large group of volunteers agreed to cycle from downtown Ottawa to a variety of points throughout the city, and report back on what they found about the route, both negative and positive. The result is an impressive report that has to rate as one of the more interesting documents published about cycling in the Ottawa region.
The study is a result of an initiative by the Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict, a community based organization that seeks to make neighbourhoods ecologically, economically, and socially healthier. The volunteer riders for the study included some city councillors as well as the former head of the bicycle advocacy group, Citizens for Safe Cycling .
A large part of the document consists of descriptions of each of the routes ridden by the volunteer cyclists. This includes maps, photos, and nicely summarized statements of what they experienced, both good and bad. In other words, in addition to presenting some valuable findings, the document is a great resource for cyclists who want to figure out how to get around various parts of the city.
In a nutshell, the study found that Ottawa has a lot to offer cyclists, including a number of pleasant routes for getting to many destinations in the city. It also highlights a slew of problem areas. These tend to consist of gaps in the paths and bike routes across the city, major streets and thoroughfares that are not overly bicycle friendly, and areas where cyclists have to ride through bottlenecks that are often dangerous to get from one part of town to another.
The study presents a list of “Ideas for Improvement”. These are organized in a series of “Quick Fixes” and “Mid to Long Term Fixes” that could be undertaken by the NCC and/or the City of Ottawa.
Although the report is over 40 pages long, it is presented in a very readable format, and it’s easy to skim over the document to find information about particular parts of the city. It is definitely worth checking out by anyone who cycles in the Ottawa area.