I Bike Centrum!

Lately I’ve been thinking about Centrum (a shopping centre in my neighbourhood) and what makes it bike friendly and even more so what makes it bike non-friendly. Furthermore, what would make this a good biking destination.

First of all, I’ve looked at the businesses I patronize and realized that they are in the parts of the mall that are more accessible on foot and bike than the rest of the mall. Whether this is because I can’t be bothered to visit shops that require cars to get to (I don’t think so, I go to Centrum more often by car than by any other means) or that they are the kind of businesses that only appeal to non-active-commuters (is that a demographic???), I can’t tell. In short, I go to the Signature Plaza (grocery store, pharmacy and toys) which is connected to the rest of Kanata through trails and quiet residential streets. I often go the Chapters which, if you can get through the Kanata Avenue/Campeau intersection, is just a short jaunt along a path and wide sidewalk. Finally I go to the City Walk (hairdresser, movies, beer and wine, clothes…) area which is a bit more finicky to get to if you are not comfortable with vehicular cycling.

If I could improve something about Centrum it would be:

1. Intersections leading to the mall – in Eastbound and Southbound directions on Kanata/Campeau intersection the road is too narrow to ride along side the car traffic and, with the right turning traffic, the cyclist has to take the lane to continue going straight (I would even recommend taking the lane to go right, it is so narrow). Westbound and Northbound are not so bad. Kanata/Earl Grey intersection is not too bad, but I tend to take the lane right away down Earl Grey so I can turn into the parking lot which can be a bit of a hassle if the traffic is busy. Admittedly, there might be other, better, ways of getting there but I don’t see it.

2. Non-vehicular cyclists must have one heck of the time getting to the City Walk! I never though of this before since I am a vehicular cyclist, but now that some of our kids are biking we need to come up with a safe route to get there. Frankly, I am stumped.

What kinds of improvements might help:

- MUP along the south side of Kanata Avenue. There seems to be one behind Chapters, but it turns into sidewalk behind Wallmart and then completely disappears.
- MUP along Earl Grey from Kanata Avenue to the little island at the entrance to the City Walk – it would be nice to have another MUP to the other island behind Three Brewers, but one would suffice

I don’t spend much time thinking about using Maritime Way to get to Centrum. I tried biking along it once as an experiment and, though it seems the same distance on the map, it felt boring, long and roundabout. The road felt too narrow and there is an, albeit short, apartment building section with cars parked on both sides of the street that are just asking to door you. On the other hand, this area is still under development and there is still hope that off-road paths will be put in.

Anyhow, if you have an opinion or experience biking or walking to Centrum, please talk to me about it, especially if you don’t bike or walk there but would like to. I’d love to hear about this from another point of view.

Edit: So there is a no-lane-taking way to get to City Walk – from Maritime Way go straight down Lord Byng Way and then either ride in front or the back of Future Shop / Home Outfitters strip to the City Walk parking lot. Also we checked out Maritime Way and it is actually rather wide but it feels narrow for biking since there are no lanes on pavement whatsoever. Should be fixed in the future.

Last post about winter (maybe)

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Aside from all the actual winter sports, I have completed my first winter of honest-to-godness cycling season. Yes, yes, I cycled in winter in the previous years but it was very provisional and rarely more than one day in a month. Here are my round trip numbers for this winter:

December:3
January: 4
February: 3
March: 5

Not a lot but multiple times more than before.

And here are some of the parameters:

Equipment:
Dedicated witnerbike was the gamechanger for me. This bike is a tank. Did you know that the galvanised chain came standard?

Weather:
My rule of thumb was that the forecast needs to be promising single digits (negative, of course) in the afternoon. This was a very cold winter so we did not get too many days like that. Fortunately, the severe cold made sure that there was a lot of snow but no lumpy ice on the road because ice usually forms during freeze-thaw cycles.

It was important to keep hands and face warm. I was usually wearing only a merino undershirt under my coat because I would heat up too much during the ride. I don’t know if I would brave colder weather next year.

Traffic:
The secret to March Road is to avoid it during rush hour. If I could clear it before 7:30 in the morning or 4:00 in the afternoon, the traffic was no issue whatsoever. The “special driver” comes out in rush hour along with million other vehicles. The ride becomes too big an ordeal to be bothered with. I missed a few days of cycling because I did not manage to get out of the house early enough.

The City:
The bike lanes are not cleared in the winter so we are relying on sun and traffic to thaw them. It works to some extent but it would be much, much nicer if the snow plow swung a bit to the right every once in a while.

Film: Gravity in 3D

This Sunday we woke up to 10 cm of fresh new snow. There was nothing to do but hit the slopes.

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And then, because it was spring after all, we went sugaring off. For those of you not of Canadian persuasion, sugaring off is when instead of having delicious pancakes at home like every other weekend, you pay for substandard pancakes in a shed next to some tapped sapping maples. It is strange but we can’t help but do it every year and look forward to it to boot.

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Winter accomplished

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There is still about a meter of snow in our front yard, but the temperature is above zero and threatening to stay that way. The kids have done their last ski of the season and I have the (probably) last xcountry session scheduled for tomorrow. This was a tough winter temperature wise, but it was amazing for winter sports.

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One in 7 seven days

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I’ve been thinking about how much time I spend on chores per week… Here is a quick rundown:

Laundry: 8 hours
Breakfast: 2 hours
Dinner: 8 hours
Tidying up: 5 hours

So, one full day in the week is spent on chores. Fortunately, I listen to audio books while doing this so one full day of the week I get to enjoy some culture I would otherwise not have time for. I am almost done “reading” 100 Years of Solitude.

I’ve also completed another knitting project, a shawl…

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I feel very conflicted about this project. On one hand, I really enjoyed making it, on the other, I am not sure if I like it. On some level I really don’t and yet I am not keen on putting it away in the bottom drawer. What should I do with it?

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Film – Lego Movie

Yes, I went to a movie. In fact, the whole family is now of age where we can go to see a kids movie and we did. Expect me to only review kids movies for the next five years…

I think Lego Movie is best seen on an airplane where you can choose not to put the earphones on. Concept and execution were good, jokes were good (ok, you can wear earphones for those) but the dialogue was standard pep-talk between action scenes fare. Had they hired a decent dialogue writer this move would be as awesome as everything.

I’ve also been listening to popular music! I’ve got a solo album by Alex Turner and two of his group work efforts; “Whatever People Say I Am That’s I’m Not” and “AM” by Arctic Monkeys. After many, many listens, I prefer the solo album which is the soundtrack to the movie “Submarine” the best though I am fairly hooked on the other two. This is the first time that I have albums I bought at the iTunes store that I wish I had a CD for (or at least the CD booklet). I found myself wanting to check the song credits, lyrics and the album art quite a few times.