Recap: Bike Day on the Hill

Monday May 30 was Bike Day in Canada, a nationwide celebration of cycling. Here in Ottawa, we were lucky to be able to attend “Bike Day on the Hill”.

This was a fun bike ride, a BBQ on Parliament Hill, and, most importantly, an opportunity to discuss a national cycling strategy with parliamentarians. If you weren’t able to join us, maybe we’ll see you there next year, but for now, here’s a recap of the evening…

A tip of the hat to the organizing committee, which included Canada Bikes, John Weston, Senator Nancy Greene Raine and staff, the OBC, and many others. Bike Day on the Hill was a fantastic opportunity to network with decision-makers, advocacy representatives, and people who enjoy riding their bikes. The event kicked off with some inspiring speeches, including some words from our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, Catherine McKenna, who said she wants to see a National Cycling Strategy. We’re happy to help! But first, let’s ride.

bike day traffic on wellington
After leaving the hill, the route took us along Wellington. Just a bit of bike congestion here! We estimate about 150 people joined in for the ride. The ride then went over the Portage Bridge, giving a slight boost to the day’s counts, and along the river behind the Museum of History. We returned to Parliament via the Alexandra Bridge and Mackenzie Avenue – safety in numbers! (Simone Rivers)
bike day bikes at parliament
Following the ride, we were all invited into the East Block courtyard for a BBQ. Even our bikes were welcome to hang out. Nice! (Simone Rivers)
bike day roundtable
A few words from MP Gord Johns (NDP) from BC, speaking about the need for a National Cycling Strategy. Gord Johns is holding the paper, standing beside John Weston, former conservative MP, as Liberal MP Will Amos (wearing stylish cycling knickers) looks on. Johns plans to introduce a private member’s bill to support the establishment of a National Cycling Strategy. We’re all ears, and can’t wait to hear more. We know he’s very serious because 1) he rides in Ottawa’s winter 2) his socks have bicycles on them. (Simone Rivers)
bike day senator
All tables were invited to brainstorm ideas for what Canada’s National Cycling Strategy should be, then we did a quick recap of each table’s highlights. Senator Nancy Greene Raine (white shirt) is also listening closely to what was being said. Many champions for a cycling strategy were present, and we heard some great ideas, and saw some great energy. (Simone Rivers)

Senator Nancy Greene Raine thanked the attendees for their enthusiasm, and reminded us that leaders will make change happen when the public support is there. So we need to keep showing up, to keep speaking up, and to keep cycling on the agenda.

One of the important things to recognize from Bike Day on the Hill is that members from all parties were represented, and working together. That’s really inspiring to see, and we think that it goes to show that this is one of those ideas that just makes sense. It’s time. We really look forward to the day when we’ll see an all-party caucus on cycling take shape.

Some of the last words of the night went to one of the organizers, Anders Swanson, of Canada Bikes. He made the trip from Winnipeg to be here, and is clearly passionate about uniting Canadians around cycling. We really recommend you read what Canada Bikes has already brought forward as a proposal for Canada’s National Cycling Strategy. One of the messages that Anders wanted to share is “love” – riding a bike is about love – loving your country, being part of a supportive community, taking care of each other. We were certainly feeling the love, let’s keep it going.