I am always happy to see the arrival of spring in Winnipeg. After the streets are cleaned the race towards summer will really begin.
As I write this, I’m psyched to begin commuting to work by bike. For me, it’s about a 10-kilometre ride to work. I find it to be a great way to get the blood flowing in the morning (though it will never completely replace my morning coffee). I know people who have already switched from the bus or car to two-wheeled mode, and some have even rode through most of our mild winter.
In the northeast section of the city, we are very fortunate to have many options for active transportation. Whether going for a walk, a jog, or a bike ride, there are many paths and trails available that are well-separated from automobile traffic. Cycling is a lot more enjoyable (not to mention a lot less deadly) when you don’t have to contend with hurried drivers, many of whom don’t like sharing the road with cyclists.
One excellent tool for planning bike trips is Google Maps. Did you know that it has a special bike route planning mode? You start by clicking the ‘Get Directions’ tab and enter the address of your starting point and your destination, just as you would if you were getting directions for a motor-vehicle trip. Then, click the tab showing a person on a bicycle, and voilà — you have a nicely mapped bike route! It doesn’t always work perfectly, but it usually correctly uses the major bike paths in Winnipeg.
One excellent path in this end of town is the Northeast Pioneers Greenway, which is a multi-use pathway between Gateway Road and Raleigh Street. A new pedestrian/cyclist bridge over Chief Peguis at Raleigh was built as part of the recently completed Chief Peguis Trail extension project. It allows people to use the trail to the north to cycle about three-quarters of the way downtown without riding on any roads. The trail currently extends north to McIvor, and plans are in the works to extend it north of the Perimeter Highway into East St. Paul.
I know people who have been ticketed for cycling on the sidewalk, over narrow bridges and other areas where it is much safer to stay off the road. I don’t think it is unreasonable for cyclists to use the sidewalk where it is the only safe option — provided they are considerate around pedestrians and yield to motorists.
On the city’s active transportation trails, people run, walk with dogs, skateboard, in-line skating and cycle. They are all able to share the paths with no problems. While some roads have designated bike lanes and diamond lanes, other roads are totally unsafe for cycling. I believe cyclists should always choose the route that makes safety the number one priority.
I hope that the cycling and other active transportation options continue to be improved in our city. Let’s hope this wonderful unseasonable weather continues so we can enjoy riding!
Jody Gillis enjoys cycling and is a North Kildonan-based writer.
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