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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 09-11-10, 02:16 AM   #1
Bain19
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Anyone in Ottawa riding this winter ?

I just moved to Ottawa from Winnipeg this summer and I plan to ride this winter to work, anyone have experience with the winters here ? How are the streets/drivers here ?
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Old 09-11-10, 10:34 PM   #2
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Yeah man, there's quite a few ottawa winter cyclists as far as I could see in the past 2 years. Wherebouts do you live, have you planned your route? Like anything else, there's some bad apple drivers, but overall... well I'm still alive.

The bike paths usually aren't plowed, so get studded tires! I'll usually ride the sidewalk in uncroweded areas, giving priority to pedestrians, but using the streets is fine most of the time.
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Old 09-14-10, 09:04 PM   #3
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I've ridden the past two winters here and think it's a great way to get around. Drivers aren't a problem. Parking is ample.

I'd stay off the sidewalks, personally, because aside from the normal reasons you (in my experience) tend to run into unplowed sections where if you want to switch from the sidewalk to the road to get around them you'd have to climb over a three foot snowdrift. There's enough space in the road.

Lots of road salt, it turns my bikes white. Get big fenders.
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Old 09-15-10, 03:35 PM   #4
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I was just talking to my cycling buddy about this today. Getting good lights would be my first recommendation. Planning a route along a good transit route would be another. Whereabouts are you going to and from?

I was out at 7am this morning. It felt like winter already!
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Old 09-15-10, 07:04 PM   #5
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well i still have alot of my gear from riding last winter in Winnipeg. I live in nepean and work off of laurie so i figured i would do

greenback to richmond to somerset to kent to laurie. I just wish the lanes on rickmond were a bit wider
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Old 09-15-10, 09:34 PM   #6
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You won't find the winter here too different than Winterpeg. We probably get more snow, but it isn't quite so cold (altho it is still cold a fair bit of the time: -15C is common and -20 or lower happens a fair number of times a year). They are pretty good at plowing so most of the time, you are looking at dry pavement. Your gloves/mitts and helmet liner, etc. will all be needed - bring all of it. I got studded tires after 5 years of all-season commuting and they are nice, but not a necessity.

I am not sure what the Peg is like for biking, but I have found Ottawa roads to be fairly ****ty and narrow and bumpy. I have lived in 5 large cities in Canada and Australia, and Ottawa is by far the worst - few bike lanes, generally narrow travel lanes, and crappy pavement, with lots of busses on key biking corridors. Now, I will grant you that the offroad bike trails maintained on NCC linear greenspaces likes along the rivers and canals are awesome - they make this city the best for commuting in the spring, summer and fall. But once those paths get unrideable (usually mid-Nov to late-March) and you are forced onto city streets, it sucks. And I don't think I have ever seen people riding the paths in the winter - it isn't that you need studded tires, you'd need a snow plow. Deep drifts, etc. The drivers aren't anything special. Not a lot of road rage or aggressive driving against cyclists, but a fair number of fairly clueless behaviours (close passing, lane drifters, no signals, etc) - probably more so than I have seen elsewhere, but not out of hand.

Your route, in the winter, is going to suck. Not sure what else to suggest either. No good options. Carling? - don't do it...3 narrow lanes with buses in the curb lane and everyone drives 30 million km/h. Scott has fewer lights from Churchill through to downtown, but the road is crappier and probably a little narrower (altho unlike Richmond, no parked cars, so no door prizes). But getting from Greenbank to Westboro (Churchill) is a long stretch. In rush hour, it can get congested and the road isn't that wide. However, the traffic never moves that fast so it won't be that dangerous. It won't be pretty, but it'll work. But, come spring and the path is open, it'll be an awesome ride - Greenbank down to Britannia Park onto the Ottawa River Pathway, and then you are off-road on a great bike path all the way to the canal - then you can bike up the canal and peel off onto Laurier. Perfection.

Good luck. If you take Scott, I may see you. There aren't that many of us, esp when it dips into the -20s, so wave!
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Old 09-17-10, 04:56 AM   #7
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Welcome to Ottawa.
The city does a poor job clearing the snow during a snow storm. They clear just the lane where cars travel but don't push the snow back to the curb until after the snow stops. So on main roads you will be riding infront of cars not to the side.
Your commute would be great in the summer but in the winter I would bike on clearer days and take the bus on snow days.
I am lucky enough to only commute 3 km one way and take back roads in the winter to stay away from heavy traffic.
I hope the commute works out for you.
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Old 09-17-10, 11:48 AM   #8
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Welcome to Ottawa.
The city does a poor job clearing the snow during a snow storm. They clear just the lane where cars travel but don't push the snow back to the curb until after the snow stops. So on main roads you will be riding infront of cars not to the side.
Your commute would be great in the summer but in the winter I would bike on clearer days and take the bus on snow days.
I am lucky enough to only commute 3 km one way and take back roads in the winter to stay away from heavy traffic.
I hope the commute works out for you.

Personally, I get out every chance I have during a snowstorm. It's great fun, and the cars are rarely moving any faster than you are. Main roads are the first ones plowed. I don't find the buses terribly reliable in those conditions, either, but it's been a couple years since I used one so I might be remembering wrong.
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Old 12-29-10, 11:15 PM   #9
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well thanks for all the replies ... but no one mentioned the mid winter rain

WeatherNetwork is reporting +7 for January 1st
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Old 12-30-10, 07:07 AM   #10
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I ride almost every day in Ottawa, but out in Orleans, and in early morning, so I can't help with your route. Studded tires and good lights are my advice.
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Old 12-30-10, 08:56 AM   #11
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well thanks for all the replies ... but no one mentioned the mid winter rain

WeatherNetwork is reporting +7 for January 1st
Heh, I lived hear all my life and didn't expect the mid winter rain either. This weather is awesomely ridiculous, and the City of Ottawa even bothered to keep some MUT's plowed this year. Best cycling winter yet!
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