On January 19, 2021 we held our first ever East End Update meeting, and it was the largest meeting of East End cyclists we have ever had! The meeting was attended by Councillor Kitts, Luloff, Dudas, and Tierney, as well as city staff Zlatko Krstulic, Philippe Landry, and Deborah Lightman.
This month we’re spreading Bike Love and featuring stories from local and not-so-local people about their own Bike Love.
We are very happy to have Jillian Banfield, the Halifax Bike Mayor for our first guest post. Thank you Jillian for sharing your story with us.
My bike is my mobility aid. Much like some people use wheelchairs or white canes, my bike allows me to move about the world when I otherwise couldn’t. I feel lucky to have stumbled upon this solution for my mobility needs that also provides me fresh air, exercise, and a close community of #BikeHfx friends and family. My love for my bike, though, is complicated by ableism in society and the internalized ableism that I have only started to unlearn in my 30s despite a lifetime of disability and chronic illness.
As a kid, I was taught to be careful. Be very, very careful. My joints were painful, so a slip on the ice or playing tag at recess were to be avoided. I sat out many activities in gym class because no alternatives were offered. There was only one standard to be met, only one way to get a good grade in that class. The stress of trying to conform to that standard, the feeling that there was something wrong with me haunts me to this day.
My piano lessons stopped when the teacher decided my hands – with their stiff and swollen knuckles – couldn’t do what was necessary. Again, there was only one way to learn, one way to play well.
I loved to swim. My body could move so freely, the water hid my uncoordinated movements and protected my tender joints. During physio appointments, I swam in a very hot, very chlorinated pool, mostly populated by older folks at the rehabilitation centre. I pretended I was a fish.
Again, though, swimming lessons chipped away at my feelings of belonging. I reached a level where I could not physically meet a requirement to pass to the next level. I tried 3 times to get my blue badge, then I stopped, angry that my legs would never kick the “right” way.
In cycling, I face some of the same challenges. I was slow to graduate from my training wheels. I feared falling, I lacked coordination and confidence in my body. As an adult, I embraced cycling, both out of love and out of need. I ride a standard 2-wheel bicycle and I can ride for hours. I know that these facts mean that people perceive me as nondisabled and as partaking in a niche sport. I feel compelled to convince people that I’m disabled. I work to convince people that it’s not just me – that bikes and cycling infrastructure can help loads of people like me.
My bike love is complicated because my early experiences taught me that my body didn’t belong and wasn’t worthy of inclusion. Since I started cycling, I found a way in which my body can flourish. But riding a bike also erases my disability experiences because of ableist assumptions about what disability is and who cyclists are. For me, though, bikes can be tools for inclusion, and that fact pedals me forward.
In late November, the City of Ottawa held a working group consultation for the preliminary design of the reconstruction of Bank Street from Riverside Drive at the Rideau River in the north, to Ledbury Avenue in the south. This project has been underway for quite some time, Bike Ottawa previously participating in the functional design study for this project in 2016/2017. This stretch of Bank Street is a significant artery in south Ottawa. At the north end of the project limits, the street transitions from an urban main street to a more suburban artery in the south end.
On November 25, Councillor Jeff Leiper (Kitchissippi Ward) hosted an online public meeting on changes for cyclists and pedestrians coming to Scott Street between Churchill and Bayview. Here’s what you need to know.
Ottawa City Council is expected to pass its 2021 Budget on Wednesday, December 9th. The city will spend approximately $8.9 million (M) on dedicated bike infrastructure – down significantly from the 2015-2018 years when the city was budgeting $20M in “Cycling and Pedestrian Plans.”
Since the inception of the Ottawa Winter Cycling Network 5 years ago, the number of trips made by bike during winter has roughly doubled (based upon City bike counter data)!
With an increase in ridership comes a more extensive knowledge pool to be shared. Whether you are thinking about extending your trips by bike into our colder months or have been cycling year-round for a long time, there is a wealth of information in this Winter Cycling Guide from the perspective of one of Bike Ottawa’s members.
Bike Ottawa’s Advocacy Working Group has recently created a subgroup dedicated to safe cycling issues in the east end of the city. As one of their first projects, they have been looking at cycling connections to future Stage 2 LRT stations. Read on for the letter prepared by volunteer Daniel Domen providing our recommendations for the Montreal Rd station and the response from the Stage 2 Project Team at the city. AWG continues to work with city staff and Councillors Tierney, Dudas, and Luloff to improve cycling and pedestrian safety.