The cold weather is finally here... Hurrah! - said nobody.
Ok, I'll admit it, seeing the green grass on December 25th was a little disappointing. I've been waiting for the snow and cold weather to hit since November so I could get started building the annual backyard skating rink.(it's kind of a tradition at our place). Now that it's finally here-ish the kids and I put up the boards this past weekend, and last night it was cold enough to start adding water... Hurrah!
Here is a look at the progress for this years Rink...
Since moving to Pineview, I have been awoken by that artificial thunder too many times to count. Even with earplugs and windows shut, there's no escaping the noise. Sometimes, after lying awake listening to the same inconsiderate motorist driving around the neighbourhood in what must be a very engaging circuit, I get out of bed and sheepishly call the police. There's a noise bylaw afterall. And no I don't know if it's a motorcycle or car, and no I can't see it and no I don't know what street this noisy thing is on. It's so loud, it sounds like it's coming from everywhere. I start wondering mid-call if maybe instead of calling the police, I should spend these waking hours erecting a shrine to St. Jude, Patron Saint of Lost Causes.
So imagine my delight when one day last week driving to work, I pulled up next to an ordinary looking vehicle, stuck in rush hour traffic, just like me, and emitting that familiar roar I have become so familiar with. Serendipity! A noisy motorist going slowly enough to get a full license and description. I took the opportunity (in a completely safe manner, not distractedly driving, of course) to note the information, not even sure what I would do with it. Maybe I would tweet it and try to social media shame my nemesis sleep-thief, but then, I remembered the Ottawa Police Service's new online reporting tool. They posted a slick little how-to video recently that I saw on their Twitter feed.
With complaints like mine, the constable explained, they typically phone the person to give a verbal warning and make a note that stays on that person's file. And that is what he did.
The online report didn't cost my street rumbler any money this time, but there's always next time. Call me a hopeless optimist. I'd encourage any of you who happen to come across a noisy vehicle or other annoying but relatively minor incidents to use the OPS online reporting tool. Here's the list of what you can report with it (taken directly from the OPS website):
It's not for everything though. You aren't able to file a report online if:
If you're not sure, you're advised to call 613-236-1222, ext. 7300, to check.
You might have seen it going around Facebook lately: a five day gratitude challenge where participants are called on to think of three things a day for which they are grateful. I love reading about the unusual things people are grateful for, and it got me thinking about a Neighbourhood Gratitude Challenge. I’m going to cheat by drawing off some of the answers to our online neighbourhood survey (if you haven’t filled it out yet, please do!).
So here goes: Day One.
Hemmed in by some high-volume, high-speed arterial roads, our neighbourhood doesn't seem like a cyclist's paradise -- at first glance, at least. Let's take stock.
Blair Road has new rumble strips from Innes to Meadowbrook, separating cars from the shoulder that pedestrians and cyclists use, but the posted speed limit is 70 km/hr and despite a nice sign warning motorists not to do it, northbound traffic frequently swerves into the shoulder to bypass traffic turning left onto Beaverpond. Heading north past Meadowbrook, the shoulder disappears into a scary sharrow that interweaves with the on- and off-ramps for the 174. Heading south from the Gloucester Centre, you have to navigate the westbound on-ramp of the 417 and after that, there's almost no shoulder on the bridge over the 174.
Then there's the Pineview Park pathway, a useful shared path running right through Pineview from Innes to the 174, linking our neighbourhood to the Blair OC Transpo station. It's a great north/south alternative to Blair, until you reach the pedestrian overpass over the Queensway, where you have to dismount and walk it, or risk a $125 fine. Why can't OC Transpo allow cyclists to ride respectfully on the pedestrian overpass? A blog post for another day.
Looking at a map, you'd think the National Capital Commission Greenbelt would be an obvious outdoor playground for Pineviewers. But unfortunately, at the moment, it's easier to drive to a Mer Bleue parking lot along Anderson Road than it is to access this green space by bicycle from Pineview. There's a proposed link from behind Home Outfitters on Innes to the P25 parking lot, crossing over the crushed gravel trail head of the Prescott-Russell recreational trail. But last I checked, that link is still languishing in an NCC filing cabinet, and a cyclist coming from Pineview has to navigate a chained gate, an overgrown dirt path, and fields of corn or soybeans to get there.
Innes Road is graced by some fading sharrows painted into the road heading east and west from Pineview, but with the posted speed limit at 70 km/hr, heavy trucks and speeding commuters, it's just not a pleasant ride. Going east towards Blackburn Hamlet, the speed limit increases to 80 km/hr, and cyclists are left to a tiny ribbon of asphalt that hugs the three lanes of traffic in either direction. Not a route for the faint of heart. Heading west towards St. Laurent Blvd., a cyclist must navigate the on-ramps to the westbound and eastbound 417, after which the speed limit also increases to 80 km/hr. If you've been brave enough to make it past the 417, you're reminded of the hazards of cycling on Innes by the ghost bike at Bantree, commemorating the spot where cyclist David Tyler Brown was killed in a 2012 collision with a pickup truck.
Despite its variably-sized shoulders, and the odd pothole, Cyrville Road is a surprisingly pleasant route out of Pineview. Traffic is moving more slowly than along Blair or Innes, with the posted speed limit of 50 km/hr, and it's a great way to get over the 417. The good news is the city is planning to improve cycling facilities along Cyrville as they build out the Confederation Line LRT.
I had some time today to test out the Google Maps cycling directions (which the website warns are still in "beta") from Pineview out to the scenic Rideau River Eastern Pathway, an easy one-way journey of six kilometres. Once you reach the Rideau River Eastern Pathway, you can easily connect to all the Capital Pathway trails. The trickiest part for the first-time trip was zigzagging from Cyrville to Tremblay, which crosses St. Laurent Blvd., and finding the trail again after it all but disappears at the VIA station. But the varying streetscape of this mixed-use neighbourhood makes for a rewarding ride. On today's trip, I had the additional good fortune of happening upon a procession of the Feast of Santo Cristo, which was heading towards a festively decorated Senhor Santo Cristo Portuguese church on Kenaston Street. If you haven't taken a tour through this area, I'd highly recommend it.
I've added the bike route out to the scenic Rideau River Eastern pathway to our Pineview Neighbourhood Map. If you can't see it, make sure that you've clicked on the Bike/Walk/Run routes layer.
Are you interested in advocating for better cycling infrastructure in and around Pineview? Consider teaming up with board member Andrew Bender and his Traffic committee.