Sometimes I feel like I live in a city designed and built by people who drive everywhere. Even when they do build something for those people (eyeroll) who actually move themselves places, they do their level best to keep it to an absolute minimum.
The William Commanda bridge, for example. Built by the City of Ottawa with a bunch of help from the NCC and the federal government it’s a brilliant thing. It connects Ottawa and Gatineau for active transport users (pedestrians, cyclists, scooters, rollerskaters, skateboarders etc etc. And the city itself seems pretty darned excited about it.
Indeed they call it “a significant milestone” and a “major interprovincial link.”
Only I discovered today that it’s an interprovincial link that they plan to close for four months a year.
Would the city ever build a bridge — or any bit of infrastructure, for that matter — for cars that they close four months a year? Of course not.
The city claims that it’s because it can’t plough or salt the wood plank and steel structure. Except just a few clicks east there’s the Alexandra Bridge. A steel structure with wood planking (for the active transport users — cars get pavement, naturally) that they do plough and salt. I have also read on Twitter that the steel cables that are part of the railings won’t deal well with snow mounding. The railings on the Alexandra Bridge are solid metal.
Bike Ottawa argued that having the paths across the river open year-round was part of the NCC’s strategic plan for pathways. They are asking people to ask the NCC to follow up.
The memo the city sent to the mayor and members of council also says they’re open to ideas (sort of) about how to maintain it for winter recreation purposes. If I had an idea to contribute in this regard it would be to recruit and fund the genius generous souls that create and groom the various urban winter ski trails to make a path that goes all the way from the Trillium Pathway to Gatineau Park.
“Recreation” might be a better use for the Commanda Bridge since for a lot of commuter cyclists it’s a bit out of the way. I’m torn about this, though, because both the Portage and the Chaudière (Eddy) Bridges are problematic for cyclists and pedestrians right now.
The Chaudière Bridge is always a bit hair-raising and right now riding the sidewalk/pathway thing isn’t even an option. The pathways to the Portage Bridge are also now blocked off for winter, and some parts of them are still closed for construction. So getting to the Portage Bridge’s bike path will involve discontiguous travel or time on Wellington.
In that context, I might, if I was a cautious or new rider, prefer to go a couple of kilometres out of my way for a trip that was more peaceful and less likely to end up under the wheels of a car.