Bike Spotting: Scotland, Montreal, Ottawa, Selkirk, Toronto

See the other half of our Bike Spotting feature in this issue, Canada West, here.


Photo by Liz Munns

Scotland

Danny and Fiona Gilbert with son Alasdair in Crieff, Scotland on the grounds of Ardvreck School, where Danny teaches.

Fiona runs re:make a series of up-cycling craft workshops with people and planet in mind.

What do you wear for your winter ride?

Our winter ride clothes in this picture are slightly modified as it was taken on 25 January which is Robert Burns Day hence the semi-traditional dress!

Danny Gilbert: I’m wearing a waterproof shell jacket (Gore-Tex Paclite), Hunting Buchanan woollen kilt (The Kilt Shop), sporran, sgian-dubh (ceremonial dagger) in black kilt hose, cycling shoes (Shimano), bike helmet (Specialized).

Fiona Gilbert: My red wool coat (Ness), black winter boots (Clarks), big woolly jumper (Phase Eight), skirt (Boden), bike helmet (Camino) are all things I wear every day. As Billy Connolly said (although he’s better known for getting his kit off whenever possible, as opposed to layering up) ~ there’s no bad weather in Scotland, just the wrong clothing.

Tell us a bit about your winter cycling routes.

Danny: Around the grounds of Ardvreck School or on single track trails in the Strathearn area of Perthshire with Iain Campbell the local baker. The bike is a 1938 Schwinn Spitfire.

Fiona: Mostly within the town of Crieff on re:make business or to nursery. The bike is a 2004 Dawes Horizon.

Best thing about winter biking in Scotland?

Danny: Outstanding winter scenery.
Fiona: Incredible views and quiet rural roads.


Some of the Ardvreck school kids on a winter cycle. Photo by Adam Flint from Progression Bikes.

Spring re:make workshops are running at Ardvreck from 2 to 6 April, 2012.

Halifax coming soon… 

Montreal


Photo by Félix Bowles

Name: FX Tremblay
Occupation: Project Manager, Web and Media Relations at Vélo Québec
Neighbourhood: Montreal’s Petite Patrie

What do you wear for winter cycling from boots to hat?

Aigle Rubber Boots, Swrve Cordura Jeans (you can buy them unhemmed, perfect for tall fellas), custom-made jacket sewn by this retired lady who lives near my parent’s cottage, Ibex Shak Mid Layer, MEC Gore-Tex Mitts, Rapha and Paul Smith Knitted Winter Hat.

What is the length of your commute or average trip by bike in the winter?

It’s about 15 minutes between house and work and errands/going out = about an hour a day minimum on my bike (more on weekends).

How long have you been riding in the winter?

Seven years. It’s the same old thing in all seasons. Biking is the faster, more convenient way to get around the city. It’s healthy, it’s fun: why stop doing it? Riding at night, when the city’s bustle is muffled by fresh snow is pure bliss.


Photo by Félix Bowles

Name: Robin Black
Occupation: Program co-ordinator, youth active transportation program at Vélo Québec
Neighbourhood: Villeray in Montreal

What do you wear for winter cycling from boots to hat?

Jacket, pants, and gloves made of breathable, windstopping fabric, all coated with a fine crust of salt and dirt. Very fond of my toasty winter boots and windstopper skull cap.

What is the length of your commute or average trip by bike in the winter?

20 minutes.

How long have you been riding in the winter?

More than a decade.

What do you like about cycling in the winter?

Experiencing the practicality, freedom, and fresh air of riding a bicycle in the heart of winter.

 


Photo by Félix Bowles

Name: Marc Jolicoeur
Occupation: Research Director at Vélo Québec
Neighbourhood: Rosemont neighbourhood in Montréal

What do you wear for winter cycling from boots to hat?

Everyday shoes with Neos overboots. Long wool coat over my usual clothes, including jacket and tie when I have meetings. Wool and silk scarf. Gore-tex gloves over polar base gloves. Polar hat under my helmet.

How long have you been riding in the winter?

I used to ride only on dry pavement in all temperatures, and walk to work when there was snow on the ground. I started to ride in all conditions last winter, after 2 months of low activity because of a turned ankle. I added studded tires on my old city bike. My commute is just over 3 km.

What do you like about cycling in the winter?

Freedom! It is faster than walking, so you can do all those side trips at the bakery, the coffee shop, etc. It is not as boring and expensive as driving. I get to breathe fresh air when it rains or snows. I get to exercise and empty my mind when I come back from work.

 


Photo by Herb Mathisen

Name/Age: Carine Côté-Germaine, 24
Occupation: Biology student
City: From Gatineau, QC

What’s your commute to school like?

It’s good. It’s Sherbrooke; it’s a busy street so it’s déneigé (plowed) all the time. The cars are alright; they’re used to bikes all the time.

What do you do to stay warm?

I have a cache-cou (neck-warmer) made of Merino wool. It’s made for winter sports: you can breathe in it and it doesn’t get all wet and crispy. I have a helmet and a normal coat. And big boots, too.

What’s the one indispensable “velo d’hiver” item you own?

The cache-cou. When you only have a foulard (scarf) it’s always getting away or there’s holes where cold air gets in. With this, you get full coverage.

Ottawa


Photo by Sam Iverson

Name: Risa Sargent
Occupation: Board member (director-at-large) for Citizens for Safe Cycling
City: Ottawa, ON

What do you wear for winter cycling from boots to hat?

Depends on how mucky/slushy it is!

If it’s really slushy, I wear light hikers, a pair of Sugoi riding tights over long underwear, then a rain/windproof jacket over a long underwear top and a fleece. On my head if its cold I wear a balaclava and over that my Bern helmet. I wear mittens and often a cotton or wool scarf. In this outfit, I’ll bring my work clothes in a panier and change in my office.

If it’s not too mucky, I’ll wear pants or jeans, the light hikers, a sweater, plus the jacket. If it’s not too cold, I’ll ditch the balaclava in favour of a knit cap under the helmet. Mittens always!

Most important is my Stella front light and red blinking rear lights to light up dark paths and help with visibility. I also have studded tires to deal with Ottawa’s icy roads and bike paths.

What is the length of your commute or average trip by bike in the winter?

According to google maps, my ride is 3.6 km in each direction. About 2/3 is along the Rideau Canal. It takes me about 15-20 minutes.

How long have you been riding in the winter?

I just started winter riding in Ottawa this year. When I lived in Vancouver, I rode all winter every year (and with a similar outfit! But no studded tires).

What is the Winter Family Bike Parade?

Citizens for Safe Cycling (Ottawa’s main cycling advocacy organization) decided to organize a family winter bike ride this year to bring attention and moral support to the many hearty Ottawans who cycle through our winters! Winter cycling is definitely a tough sell in Ottawa. But for the first time ever, the city has promised to plow our downtown segregated bike lane, which has helped enormously. The lane counter is getting upwards of 200 trips per day even in January. We would like the city to commit to better snow clearing of all the key routes in the network to facilitate winter biking in the city. There is also a misconception that it is not worth building bicycle infrastructure in Ottawa (EDs Note: and other cities in Canada), because of the difficulties associated with cycling in winter. This is silly…and also not true! If winter cycling were supported through consistent, widespread plowing and other safety improvements, it could be a viable part of a year-round transportation system, and our parade was meant to celebrate that idea. (EDs Note: See our feature on snow clearance in this issue.) 

Southern Ontario


Photos by Emily Cronk.

Name: Meagan Cronk
City: Selkirk, ON
Fills days with: Fixed-gear riding

What do you wear for winter riding?

I wear Impacto work gloves. They are anti-vibration and have padding on the palms, which I like. I wear a Mountain Ridge hat that was nine dollars from Giant Tiger and is SO WARM. When I’m just travelling from place to place I will wear a Carhartt coat or something like that over a million sweaters, but when I’m trying tricks (on my fixed-gear bike) I just put on as many sweaters as I can, and my vest. Coats always feel too bulky when I’m trying to move around. If my hands and face are warm I’m usually A-Okay. You need to cover your head for sure. Note also the Great White North T-shirt.

Tell us a little bit about your winter commute?

Biking around the lake is always really nice. I wouldn’t say I commute. I don’t have a job. It’s always pretty quiet and relaxing. When it comes to places to practise tricks though, there really isn’t a whole lot at all. It’s a pretty small town and you need to go to one of the surrounding, larger towns to find a skate park of any kind. There are trails in the bushes all around Selkirk; they are fun, but not all of it is very bicycle friendly. If I’m still out here in the Spring I want to make some dirt jumps and better trails behind my parent’s house. There’s nothing I love more than skidding in snow.

People around here don’t know a tonne about bikes, and I’m the only person with a fixed gear, so I get a lot of questions. I miss Toronto. I spent most of the year, including the winter, riding there. (I wish I was there, riding now.)

Toronto


Photo by Dana Lacey

Name: Kristyn Wong-Tam
Occupation/Neighbourhood: Toronto City Councillor, Ward 27, Toronto Centre-Rosedale

What do you wear for your winter rides?

My casual business attire with waterproof boots, winter mitts and my toque.

Does your commute include streets with bike lanes?

Like most cyclists, I prefer to use bike lanes as it is much safer. If there are no bike lanes I will still ride, but it will be more dangerous.

What is your top tip for new winter cyclists?

Brake much earlier, avoid ice patches and use your lights even in the daytime as there is less sunlight.

How do you feel about having the first separated bike lane in Toronto installed in your ward?

As excited as I am about having Toronto’s first separated bike lane, I also think that we need to proceed with caution. There are political forces that don’t support biking infrastructure and a planning misstep just gives them a new excuse to declare another fictitious “war on the car.”

At current, there are many new projects coming to Sherbourne that have not been properly addressed (or consulted) in the separated bike lane proposals yet: namely, the many new condo developments, the existing schools, churches and senior home drop-off and delivery areas. The residential community is also wondering what will happen to their local streets when those 159 street parking spaces are removed from Sherbourne. We should study Sherbourne more closely, create a measurable pilot project, invest in a high-quality street design and a comprehensive greening strategy before finalizing a capital infrastructure decision that will be costly to fix if we don’t get it right.

See also: Facelift proposed for pock-marked Sherbourne Street

How do you feel about the proposal to remove the Jarvis Street bike lane?

I’m still interested in completing the Jarvis Cultural Corridor. I am told by city staff that hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of consultations have been spent on completing Environmental Assessments and Jarvis streetscape improvement plans. Removing the Jarvis bike lanes would be a terrible waste of money, as would throwing out those previous plans. I still have every intention of revitalizing the downtown east side for the local residents and turning the historic Allan Gardens into a unique cultural asset for all of Toronto.

Good urban planning principles should never be compromised for quick political gain – Jarvis Street deserves better than this.

Join the councillor and community members to discuss the future of Jarvis Street on March 21.

 


Photo by Dana Lacey

Full Name: Katie Didyk
City: Toronto at Toronto’s Music Garden

Katie was dandyhorse magazine holiday gift giveaway prize winner #6 and was wearing leg warmers on the day she picked up her prize!

What do you wear for your winter ride?

First and foremost my Ninja mask‚ because that thing takes winter riding from bearable, to extreme comfort. It keeps in the warmth, keeps out the wind and you look pretty hardcore wearing it… Right? My Columbia snowboarding-turned-cycling jacket is warm, waterproof and windproof, and it gets more action riding around town than on the “mountain” these days. I also like my helmet because it’s light and fits my head without bothering me. I have H&M leg warmers. Leg warmers are awesome. Also, Sorel winter boots – my feet get pretty toasty in them but any other shoe in this weather and my toes start to freeze. MEC Roubaix tights are lined with fleece and have reflective treatments. I love my 15-year-old Helly Hanson undershirt because it keeps the moisture out. My gloves. I have waterproof winter gloves that are great for gripping gears and locking and unlocking my bike. I just can’t bring myself to get lobster claws although I do appreciate their function and I know I’d be warmer.

How long is your commute?

It takes about 30 minutes to get to work, 25 minutes using Jarvis if I get all green lights from Queens Quay up to Bloor. It takes the longest in the winter when the snow is not cleared in the bike lanes.

What’s your top tip for someone reading this who might want to try winter cycling?

Just don’t rule out winter riding altogether; remind yourself about why you love riding: It feels good, your body stays active, and you still get stuff done faster than if you take public transit or walk. So try to ride at least a few times this winter in order to get into a new mind set for riding all year round. Get some good clothing and winterize your bike and check the forecasts each day to prepare.


Ninja mask-ready Katie Didyk slices through the cold winds off of Lake Ontario riding her bike year-round. Photo by Dana Lacey.

See the rest – the WEST – of our excellent cross-Canada Bike Spotting profiles here.

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