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Vancouver, Ottawa or Toronto?

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Vancouver, Ottawa or Toronto?

Old 02-07-12, 05:27 PM
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velowallah
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Vancouver, Ottawa or Toronto?

Which is the best city to commute by bike and live without a car?
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Old 02-07-12, 06:43 PM
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Ottawa is probably like a lot of other cities. If you work & live in the urban core it is doable. I've done it when I was living 15 minutes by bike from downtown. But in suburbia not so much. Our cycling infrastructure is buried under snow for 4 months of the year. Public transit is also awful in the suburbs unless you are heading downtown in the morning and back in the afternoon.
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Old 02-07-12, 06:46 PM
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If Victoria is an option, it beats all of them.... but then Victoria isn't really a city, is it?
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Old 02-07-12, 08:03 PM
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Probably not Toronto. Have you seen our mayor?
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Old 02-08-12, 06:52 AM
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I haven't been to two of the three cities, but... it's Vancouver for sure.
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Old 02-08-12, 10:29 AM
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Been to two as well. I like Ottawa.
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Old 02-08-12, 10:36 AM
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minneapolis is definitely one of the most bike-friendly canadian cities.

Last edited by Steely Dan; 02-08-12 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 02-08-12, 10:40 AM
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Vancouver (and the N. Shore). Nuff said. The climate (with the possible exception of the "Monsoon Season", otherwise known as winter), terrain and number of bike lanes/routes make it more than easy to commute by bike.
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Old 02-08-12, 10:50 AM
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Vancouver.
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Old 02-08-12, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
minneapolis is definitely one of the most bike-friendly canadian cities.
Boom! Right on. Better hockey players too.
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Old 02-08-12, 01:22 PM
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Vancouver for all year round convenience if you can handle the cost of living, then Ottawa and Toronto last simply because of the way the GTA is laid out with most residential areas outside the city core. On the other hand all of them could be a pain if you end up in an apartment or condominium complex that doesn't permit bikes inside the building.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
If Victoria is an option, it beats all of them.... but then Victoria isn't really a city, is it?
THIS^^^ ... I'd call it a city, and would (with luck, will) move back in a heart-beat.
I was born on VI, lived 20+ years in Victoria (after 4 in Vancouver while at uni.).
Can't speak to either To. or Ottawa as 'liveable' cycling cities, but as between Vancouver and Victoria (had you the option), Victoria hands-down.
Compact; cycling-friendly (all disciplines); and less rain!!! There's something to be said for the southeast Vancouver Island micro-climate.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
If Victoria is an option, it beats all of them.... but then Victoria isn't really a city, is it?
I've heard it's a good place to ride for the most part, with the exception of the soon to be demolished Johnson St. Bridge area.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan View Post
Probably not Toronto. Have you seen our mayor?
Come on, we're good in spite of him!

Since I don't like to commute on ice, I prefer Toronto over Ottawa for it's milder climate. And since I am a bit overweight, I prefer Toronto's slightly less hilly terrain compared to Vancouver. But of course it depends on where you would live and work. I'm going to go out on a limb and say Ottawa would probably have the most affordable housing within cycling distance of downtown.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:38 PM
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Interesting comments on Victoria,which I hadn't quite considered. Cyclability is probably my number one criteria, but culture is one of them too. I keep hearing of Victoria as a bit of a cold places with a huge elderly and not very multicultural population... Maybe I should look into it further. As a French teacher, finding a job in either Van, TO or Victoria is probably not too hard.

I've also seen what a sad buffoon the new mayor of Toronto, so that's certainly a point against the city, but I don't know if he's actually managed to do any damage to the cyclability of the city yet.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:40 PM
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Originally Posted by velowallah View Post
Interesting comments on Victoria,which I hadn't quite considered. Cyclability is probably my number one criteria, but culture is one of them too. I keep hearing of Victoria as a bit of a cold places with a huge elderly and not very multicultural population... Maybe I should look into it further. As a French teacher, finding a job in either Van, TO or Victoria is probably not too hard.

I've also seen what a sad buffoon the new mayor of Toronto, so that's certainly a point against the city, but I don't know if he's actually managed to do any damage to the cyclability of the city yet.
Since you speak French, consider Montréal.

Wait - you're already in Ottawa?

Last edited by cooker; 02-08-12 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 02-08-12, 03:53 PM
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yes I am in Ottawa. I am looking at comparing other cities to the one where I live. Montreal I know well too and is great for biking, quite compact with lots of interesting central neighbourhoods.

Another aspect of living without a car I am looking for is how often the weather is bad enough not to bike. In Ottawa, the winter is enough to stop me for about 4 months a year, which is huge! So I am looking at a city that has also a decent public transit system, which Ottawa doesn't have yet, except if you happen to live and work and do everything on the transitway.
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Old 02-08-12, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by velowallah View Post
yes I am in Ottawa. I am looking at comparing other cities to the one where I live. Montreal I know well too and is great for biking, quite compact with lots of interesting central neighbourhoods.

Another aspect of living without a car I am looking for is how often the weather is bad enough not to bike. In Ottawa, the winter is enough to stop me for about 4 months a year, which is huge! So I am looking at a city that has also a decent public transit system, which Ottawa doesn't have yet, except if you happen to live and work and do everything on the transitway.
I'm a wimp at winter cycling, but I certainly don't stop for 4 months. I usually ride until mid or late December and start up again in February, but from time to time I get in a few days in January. Even through the harshest (for Toronto) winters, I see other cyclists out there every day. If you remember that time in the 1990s when our last right-wing buffoon mayor had to call in the army to clear snow, the two days in the midst of that blizzard was the only time in 21 years of paying attention that I didn't see bikes in the rack by the main entrance.

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Old 02-08-12, 06:07 PM
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Well, if Victoria is on the list, here's what I know.

I'm originally from Seattle. We moved here 6 years ago when my wife (who is Canadian and originally from the island) took a job at UVic. Aside from Amsterdam, there are more cycling commuters here than anywhere I've ever seen (this includes Portland). Within a 5 mile radius of the downtown core, Victoria is quite flat and thus conducive to bike commuting even for those who wouldn't consider themselves enthusiasts. There are some gentle hills here and there but none longer than a few hundred meters. There are quite a number of designated cycling lanes painted onto the city streets and a MUP (Multiple Use Trail) system that runs out through the western part of town and to the north. Like any other city where motorists and cyclists share the road, a certain amount of angst exists between the two but it's all quite tolerable. Weather wise there are maybe 2-5 days a year (generally speaking) that riding a normal roadbike is out of the question and on those days a mountain bike will work just fine. It is never too cold to ride, although one day this year the roads had been wet overnight and then the temps dipped below freezing, I did several two wheel drifts that were a bit unsettling but all I really had to do was slow down a bit. You'll get wet with some frequency but rarely will you be caught in a deluge. On nice Spring/Summer/Fall days, there are not too many places in North America more beautiful.

As for multi-culturalism, it is a fairly white-toast town. There does seem to be fairly active Philipino, East Indian, and various Asian communities, but the absence of peoples of African descent is alarming, at least to me. There is a large elderly population but I wouldn't say that it's predominant. We have young children and there seems to be no shortage of young families in town. It's not cheap here; food and real estate seem incredibly expensive, certainly relative to Seattle. Probably the hardest thing for me to live with is the lack of a robust music scene. We get some good music but nothing like what comes to Seattle or other large cities.

http://www.gallopinggoosetrail.com/

http://www.crd.bc.ca/parks/lochside/

http://www.gvcc.bc.ca/

Last edited by Kojak; 02-08-12 at 06:26 PM.
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Old 02-09-12, 11:24 AM
  #20  
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communting in Van and Ottawa

I've lived in 2 of the cities (Vancouver and Ottawa) and commuted in both. Here's what I've found:

Ottawa:

Pros:
- nice and flat
- good routes, especially if you can use the canal as part of it
- you've got some gorgeous riding across the bridge in the Gatineaus

Cons:
- can't commute for 3 months (cold/snow/wind)
- it's WINDY!!!

Vancouver:

Pros:
- very nice map of bike routes throughout the lower mainland (I currently bike from Coquitlam to Vancouver all on bike routes)
- you can bike all year round
- for the most part, cars are very respectful
- lots of great bike stores

Cons:
- it's wet, but get good gear and you won't notice
- lots of hills. You will get in shape quickly and stop noticing the hills, but when you first start out, this can be de-motivating
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Old 02-09-12, 02:56 PM
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FYI - Ford ripped out the newly installed bike lanes on Jarvis almost as soon as he got into office. They were maybe a year or two old. Toronto's doable IF you live, work and play in the downtown core. Don't expect the bike lanes to link up or make any sense. Don't expect the mayor to be a friend of cycling or transit. And watch out for the street car tracks. IOTW, move to Vancouver.
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Old 02-09-12, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by steely dan View Post
minneapolis is definitely one of the most bike-friendly canadian cities.
lol!
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Old 02-09-12, 10:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Kojak View Post
Well, if Victoria is on the list, here's what I know.

I'm originally from Seattle. We moved here 6 years ago when my wife (who is Canadian and originally from the island) took a job at UVic. Aside from Amsterdam, there are more cycling commuters here than anywhere I've ever seen (this includes Portland). Within a 5 mile radius of the downtown core, Victoria is quite flat and thus conducive to bike commuting even for those who wouldn't consider themselves enthusiasts. There are some gentle hills here and there but none longer than a few hundred meters. There are quite a number of designated cycling lanes painted onto the city streets and a MUP (Multiple Use Trail) system that runs out through the western part of town and to the north. Like any other city where motorists and cyclists share the road, a certain amount of angst exists between the two but it's all quite tolerable. Weather wise there are maybe 2-5 days a year (generally speaking) that riding a normal roadbike is out of the question and on those days a mountain bike will work just fine. It is never too cold to ride, although one day this year the roads had been wet overnight and then the temps dipped below freezing, I did several two wheel drifts that were a bit unsettling but all I really had to do was slow down a bit. You'll get wet with some frequency but rarely will you be caught in a deluge. On nice Spring/Summer/Fall days, there are not too many places in North America more beautiful.

As for multi-culturalism, it is a fairly white-toast town. There does seem to be fairly active Philipino, East Indian, and various Asian communities, but the absence of peoples of African descent is alarming, at least to me. There is a large elderly population but I wouldn't say that it's predominant. We have young children and there seems to be no shortage of young families in town. It's not cheap here; food and real estate seem incredibly expensive, certainly relative to Seattle. Probably the hardest thing for me to live with is the lack of a robust music scene. We get some good music but nothing like what comes to Seattle or other large cities.

http://www.gallopinggoosetrail.com/

http://www.crd.bc.ca/parks/lochside/

http://www.gvcc.bc.ca/
Sign me up. That sounds like Paradise.
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Old 02-10-12, 05:34 AM
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Biking in winter in Toronto doesn't sound like fun to me. Weather in Vancouver is probably better.
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Old 02-10-12, 09:49 AM
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Originally Posted by jyossarian View Post
FYI - Ford ripped out the newly installed bike lanes on Jarvis almost as soon as he got into office. They were maybe a year or two old.
- out of embarrassment - he couldn't fit in them
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