When I moved to the city from my small, out-of-the-way town back home, I knew transportation would be a hassle. With no vehicle and no license to boot, it looked like it was back to the days of riding my bicycle. Not the ideal way to get around efficiently—and what would I possibly do when December hit and the unpleasant rain turned into that unbearable white-stuff?
If you’re anything like me and would rather crawl over broken glass to get where you need to be than take public transit, you might now be finding yourself in the same situation. Cycling the busy, hazardous streets of Ottawa is no easy task.
This is why in addition to being active and healthy this season, what you should really be exercising is your caution.
Ski and bike technician at Kunstadt Sports in the Glebe, Vic Manitokan suggests using a separate bike during the winter than your summer bicycle.
“Some people get a new winter bike every year, some people try and use the same one for three or four years over,” says Manitokan. “Winter cycling is great but it does require a bit of maintenance.
“The biggest danger is awareness, drivers need to know that the road is not just for them. Bicyclists and pedestrians had the road first, vehicles came later.”
Past president of Ottawa’s Citizens for Safe Cycling, Hans Moore, says that Ottawa has been making great progress in connecting safe cycling routes throughout the city.
“With the grid system, the idea is that you’re always close to a bike lane— it’s a priority of the city to connect those missing links,” says Moore.
“The biggest danger is the condition of the road,” says Moore. “One of the best things you can do if you cycle in the winter is invest in studded tires. It makes for much better cycling and you just have to be a bit more careful with how you plan your routes.”
If you find yourself out on the road on two-wheels this winter season stay well-oiled and alert in your commutes. I just may see you out there.