Friday, June 27, 2014

Two-Church Loop

Holy Trinity, east of Devon, Alberta
When you live in Edmonton, dropping off a friend or loved one at the airport can be a hassle. The Edmonton International is a long piece south of the city—a 1.5 hour round trip, and that’s if the traffic is good. But I’ve found a way to make that trip much more enjoyable. Bring a bike—any wide-tired bike will do—and take the long way home: tack on a gravel loop ride around the farmland west of the airport.  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Cycling Amish

When I hear about the latest hi-tech cycling gizmo, like this Vanhawks smartbike, which features internal sensors, blind-spot monitors, and security devices (it’s a bike that is also a gizmo), it awakens my inner cycling Amish. I begin to feel my moustacheless beard sprout. I find myself instinctively resisting, even scoffing at, such so-called advances in technology.

Some Luddite part of me refuses to accept that a smartbike is a good idea. Yes, we have the technology to make it, but that doesn’t mean we need it or that it will improve my cycling experience. In fact, the more I think about the Vanhawks, the more I get an urge to pop a bonnet on my wife’s head, and move my family to rural Pennsylvania, where I can live out my days making furniture and pedalling my trusty ordinary to barn raisings and shaming ceremonies.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Ciclovía Edmontonia?

Ottawa’s got one. So does Vancouver. Portland. Baltimore. Washington. Even Winnipeg. I’m talking about a Ciclovía—that is, a dedicated day of the week or day of the month or summer or even year when select streets of an urban area are closed to automobile traffic and wide open to cyclists, pedestrians, roller-bladers, runners—all manner of folks not in motorized vehicles. This phenomenon is also known as “Open Streets.”

The Ciclovía originated in Bogota, Columbia, in the 1980s and the practice there has grown to the point where over two million citizens, in various Columbian cities, take to the car-less streets each Sunday between 7 am and 2 pm. And Ciclovía-type events have spread, springing up in cities around the world. Last May, for instance, when I was in Washington, DC, I spent part of a lovely Sunday riding down the middle of the Rock Creek Parkway, which is a busy car-commuter corridor during the week and a beautiful, tree-lined bicycle-only road on Sundays.

In Canada, the longest running Ciclovía-type event is probably the Sunday Bikedays Program in Ottawa, where, for decades, each Sunday in the summer over 50 km of roads from the heart of the city to Gatineau Park are closed to car traffic. Some cities, such as Winnipeg, make this a once-a-year deal. Sometimes, a one-off event grows into a more regular one, like Portland’s Sunday Parkways.