September 6, 2011

Winnipeg: A Cyclist's Dream

And by the title I mean a cyclist's dream version of Winnipeg, as opposed to calling Winnipeg a bicycle friendly city. Because good lord and butter, it ain't.

A lack of bicycle corridors, Winnipeg's broad spectrum of drivers (looking at you black Ford F150 - you know who you are) and truly dismal road conditions combine to make the 'Peg an invigoratingly dangerous place to commute by bicycle. I'm speaking as a cyclist who - despite following the rules of the road, signalling, driving defensively -- bounced off/was knocked down five times this past year. I can accept one fender bender (or for a cyclist "face bender") as inevitable, two as the risks with the turf. Five? I'm not even one of those brave souls who bike on Pembina; a route as deserving of a patron saint as any.

True there are certain paths you can take with relative comfort - Wellington Crescent and Wolseley will both get you from West Broadway to Assiniboine Park nicely, the Yellow Ribbon Greenway (travelling through Murray Industrial Park) is a dream (you can see the City's recommended bike routes here).

But these few long stretches of good biking tend not to connect with each other, forcing bike traffic to join auto traffic at the bridges, underpasses and intersections where such a joining is least desirable. I've heard the lack of bicycle infrastructure at these choke-points justified thusly: there aren't enough cyclists in Winnipeg to justify the cost. Apparently cyclists must play chicken before the egg hatches. Mercy.

All that being said (and much more could be said), this coming Sunday is Ciclovia. Never heard of it? Unsurprising - while I love the cyclist community of Winnipeg, they aren't the best at marketing and organizing their events. On Sunday, September 11th a bicycle corridor is being created from Main and Broadway stretching down to Assiniboine Park. Without fear of unexpectedly making out with a windshield, Winnipeggers can peddle through the beautiful business district (it really is gorgeous when you take out some of the bustle), pass through West Broadway and journey with the river up to Assiniboine Park. A joining up of bike routes. No competing traffic. Now that's a dream.

(Bonus: If you "like" the Ciclovia Facebook page linked in this post, you're entered to win a $500 Mountain Equipment Co-op gift card. Cha-ching)

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