Last year, I made a series of resolutions and didn’t do so well at sticking to them. Who does? Let’s recap how 2013 went…
1.Be less involved. In 2012 I went to a lot of meetings: Bronson, Laurier, Downtown Moves, Main Street, bike things, walking things etc. And while it was nice to get out of the house, in the end, I’m not left with much to show for these investments of personal time. Bronson is still Bronson. Pedestrians wait too long for pushbuttons to change the lights. Drivers speed through the neighbourhood. For 2013, I’m only going to get involved on projects that are in my neighbourhood or nearby places that I go to frequently. And I’ll be going in with low expectations. The fewer meetings that I go to, the more time I can spend biking or being with friends.
How’d I do?
Failed miserably. Went to a lot of open houses. Sat on public advisory committees. Was any of it worth it? Nope.
2.Don’t read the comments. And perhaps, don’t read the articles either.
You know what doesn’t have comments? Books. I’ll be reading more of these and less of online Letters to the Editor. Don’t like bike lanes? Don’t use ‘em. I’m sure the Dutch are wrong anyway with their bike modal share of 60% in Gronigen. You can’t trust skewed statistics like that. On that note, bike to Gatineau more. Up hills, around bends. Possibly wearing spandex. Do not mistakenly purchase men’s shorts like in 2012. Ugh. (Damn you sale rack at Sports4!)
How’d I do?
I stopped reading the comments! Mostly. Life got better. I biked to Gatineau Park. I haven’t purchased any men’s clothing by accident! (Though my husband bought women’s socks by accident – which was a win for me!) Success achieved.
3. Bike more. Bike farther
Go bike camping. Do a multi-day ride. Probably in Quebec. I like Quebec. They seem more akin to outdoorsy family adventures. I think Ontario tourism, I think Marineland. I’d also like to do the Montreal Tour de l’ile. I like Montreal, they like bikes. This is a good relationship. I’ve also never tried taking my bike on a VIA train before or for that matter, biking to the VIA station. That should be um… interesting.
Once the LRT is built, getting to the train station should be a breeze. Of course, biking the 3km to get there should already be a breeze. Cynical me says that large destinations are particularly difficult to bike to on purpose so that we will use the bus. Isn’t that right, CE Centre (EY Centre)? Those new Park and Rides aren’t going to pay for themselves!
How’d I do?
Did it. Biked to Montreal on a Dutch bike! It was awesome. Went bike camping in Quebec! We liked it! Did not take bike on train (VIA cancelled the bike car service).
4. Write more.
I would like there to be more people cycling. I would like sensible bike infrastructure to be built without having to beg for it and for biking to be treated as transportation – not a special interest activity. Planners, who are salaried, should do the heavy lifting when it comes to persuading traffic engineers of these plans. Some of that might happen, but it is painfully slow. The most effective way I can think of to get more people, parents and kids biking is to write about it. Talk it up. I have it on good account that at least 5 people read this blog. And of course, just be out and about doing bikey things.
How’d I do?
Blogged on and off. Got nominated for a Canadian blogging award. Not bad!
5. Put your money where your bike is.
Some places in the city are woefully difficult to bike to. Or lack bike parking. And some large shopping centres that are located by the Rideau Canal don’t seem to care about shoppers who arrive on a bike. Nor does their business association. (The mall owner has Cadillac in their name – I think that says it all.) It must be very expensive to maintain such a large empty parking garage – I’m sure the $1/hour evening rates will cover it. And if it doesn’t, that’s ok, I’m sure the extra cost can be passed onto the retail leases. So, I’ll take my shopping dollars where the bike racks are. Enjoy your lucrative car shoppers during the LRT construction! When I need to buy something at Banana Republic, I can do it online. Who needs a mall? Not me. In 2013, I’ll continue my Ottawa record of never having been to Trainyards. I don’t think I’m missing much.How’d I do?
I think I went to the Rideau Centre twice – you just can’t buy jeans online. I wrote to the mall about their bike parking. They said it was a city issue. Mall releases plans for new parking garage. Circle of life continues.I went to Trainyards. Twice. While it is totally pedestrian unfriendly, the kids clothing store can’t be beat. If downtown sold kid’s shoes… maybe I wouldn’t go back. Until then… I bow to the Trainyard overlords.
6. Don’t buy any more bikes this year.
This is easier said than done. I’ve never been mountain biking… or fat biking… or… um radonneuring. Make do with five bikes. It’s a perfect number.
How’d I do? Failed. Bought a Brompton.
7. Decide whether to get involved with the Transportation Master Plan review.
To bother or not to bother? The target modal share for walking and biking will be based on calculations of current trends and planned infrastructure. It’s not an aspirational number, but merely one based in mathematical probability. How depressing. What’s the point? 9/10 dentists and councilors think that biking is for recreational spandexing. I think I’d rather just ride my bike back and forth over some counters.
How’d I do? Went to an open house. Filled in a comment sheet. It made no difference.
8. Knit more.
I fell off the wool wagon by getting too involved in city dealings. That was kind of a big time suck. It’s time to queue up some projects and start stash busting.
How’d I do? Got back on the wool wagon. Happy days.
I’ve already given away a snowsuit. Next: playpen, strollers and toys. Out of basement, out of mind. Anyone need a stroller or playpen?
How’d I do? Work in progress! Doing it!
10. Be less cynical? Impossible.
11. Quit the kettle corn and kettle chips.
I can do this. No, I can’t.
How’d I do? Failed miserably. Totally 100% failed.
So, 2014… what are we going to do with you?
1. Do not attend another city meeting, “consultation”, open house, “information session” etc.
What a waste of my personal time for topics that already have their resolutions plotted out in advance. No more of that. Do not volunteer my time at meetings where others are paid to attend. My time is valuable too. Overall, I feel I wasted a lot of my 2013 going to these types of meetings. No more.
2. Plan a second summer bike trip.
There is some chatter in my parent circle of doing the Rideau Lakes tour. I just don’t know if I’m a “tour” person. I just don’t get a kick out of ‘big distance’ after last year’s trip. I think I’d rather take my Brompton to Montreal for the Tour la Nuit. Montreal! Oui! Kingston? Non.
3. Go cross country skiing more
This year’s mega snowfall has gotten me out skiing and shoop shoop shooping along the river more often already. I seem more ski trips to Mill Street in my future. This resolution is a keeper.
4. Advocacy? Meh.
The city is ramping up for municiple elections. Will walking or biking be on the agenda? Not unless you want to lose. Given the ‘all hands on deck’ priority that the LRT construction is currently receiving, there’s not much appetite to bolster walking or biking infrastructure in the coming year. What we have is what we have. As we say to the kid, “you get what you get and you don’t get upset”. Ottawa. It is what it is. Neither great, nor bad. Coasting on complacency.
Being an advocate for walking and biking is mostly unfulfilling. You’re scorned and villified by motorists on one hand… and cursed from people who want better active transportation and don’t see any concrete action on the other hand. It is a recipe for bad times.
I’m tuning it all out.
I’ve tossed my hand into some other volunteer opportunities that seem to make a real immediate difference in people’s lives.
My biking advocacy will consist of riding my bike. Pretty much every day. That will have to do.
5. Shop where the bike racks are and the bike lanes are ample.
This I can guarantee. It rules out a lot of locations… say, Sparks Street, Rideau Centre etc. If you can’t provide a safe way to bike to your area of town (cough… Byward Market) or at a minimum decent and plentiful bike racks, I’ll just shop elsewhere. That’s your loss. And for whatever I can’t find, I’ll just go to the internet.
January 24 update: After a surprise kerfuffle on the old Twitter with a local business, resolve to shop only at businesses that don’t call you stupid in public.
6. Food blogging was a lot more fun.
Cooking and growing more food in the garden is definitely on the agenda.