Ottawa: A Great Place to Bike in the Winter

For those who can, biking to work is the best. Fewer cars on the road mean fewer emissions, less traffic, and let’s face it, it’s a lot more fun to pedal through our beautiful city than sit bumper to bumper on the Queensway. But what happens in the winter, if you’re not a bicycle-yielding “winter warrior”?  

We’re here to tell you that biking to work in the winter is something anyone who bikes in the summer can do! No fancy gear required.  

The facts 

Did you know, Ottawa has almost 50 km of winter-cleared cycling network? Our friends at Bike Ottawa keep this amazing winter cycling map up to date,  which shows the known cleared segregated winter lanes.  

Another fun winter-in-Ottawa fact: the average winter day is about -4*C. That’s really not very cold at all – and don’t forget that just because you ride your bike in the winter doesn’t mean you have to bike on really cold days if you don’t want to.  

Riding a bike in the winter is no colder than walking the dog around the block, going ice skating or skiing!

Winter Bike to Work Day 

On February 11th we’ll be celebrating Winter Bike to Work Day alongside the many hundreds of people here in Ottawa who never hang up their bikes “for the season”. In fact, riding through the winter seems to be more popular than ever, and we’re taking advantage of Winter Bike to Work Day to shine the spotlight on just a few of them.  

We sent a callout through our social media channels, asking for people to share their winter bike selfies, and we were overwhelmed with the response. We got photos of kids, cats and councillors, a postman and a snowman, and everyone in between. We even get to share some of our EnviroCentre staff who walk the walk (literally!) on active transportation, all winter long. 

Interested in giving it a try? You may be surprised to know that you don’t necessarily need tons of extra special equipment beyond a bike you’re happy to ride, clothing that will keep you warm and comfortable, and a place you’ll feel safe riding.  

Here are some resources to get you started: 

  • EnviroCentre’s Winter Cycling Guide 
  • Bike Ottawa’s winter cycling map – which shows the known cleared segregated winter lanes 
  • One of our staff did a great interview with CBC Ottawa, you can see it here starting at about 21:30 
  • Give it a try by renting a Fat Bike at one of several locations around the city, or wait for a beautiful blue-sky, dry pavement day and take your regular bike out for a spin! 
  • Ask a friend who already rides – they will be happy to let you know about the best routes, challenges, and useful pieces of equipment. Don’t know anyone? Write to us, we’d be happy to help! 

Make sure to follow @LetsBikeOttawa and @EnviroCentre on social media for more inspiring content!

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