2020: Bike advocacy during a pandemic

2020 has been a year filled with many ups and downs, and Covid-19 changed our lives in ways many of us had never imagined. But 2020 was also a year filled with bikes!

Some have called it a Bike Boom – and who can blame them? Bike manufacturers and parts have been selling out world wide. People were biking in record numbers around the world, even mapping giant Google Maps saw a 69% increase in people searching for bike routes. (By the way, if you’re looking for mapping help for Ottawa, our mapping tools are awesome- winter biking maps included!).

Ottawans were no exception when it came to demand for active transportation during the pandemic. The NCC opened some of its parkways to active transportation, and saw record numbers of people walking and riding. Approximately 700,000 people used the parkways from spring to fall. Overall, the number of people using cars to get around dropped and traffic levels fell, and walking and biking trips rose while people adjusted to life during a pandemic – a first in our lifetimes.

Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought, advocating for streets that are safe for everyone regardless of background, age, or ability did not take a break in 2020. We thank everyone for their support and continued help in advocating to keep Ottawa moving forward as a bike city.

Of course things looked a little different in 2020. Lockdown in March caught us all by surprise, and cancelled our Spring Bike event. But it shifted into a great collaboration with EnviroCentre’s Let’s Bike! Month for a virtual movie screening of Motherload. Lights on Bikes changed from a one-location event to having Light Ambassadors around Ottawa who helped give out around 400 pairs of lights to people in communities around the city. Our AGM turned into a virtual event, where we learned that people can’t necessarily enjoy a spread of food and drinks together, but we could still enjoy talking about biking and advocacy work.

Advocacy work continued via countless Zoom meetings, and exciting things bike-related happened. Bike Ottawa played a key role in getting the city to approve the construction of multi-use pathways on the Bank Street bridge, and making the Holland Avenue bike lane detour a permanent fixture. Volunteers, board members, and our very hard working Advocacy Working Group volunteers continued to write letters, attend meetings, do consultations, and speak with media about traffic calming in Orleans, winter biking and snow clearing, the NCCs parkway openings, the Road Safety Action Plan, biking connections to Stage 2 LRT stations, the City’s Bike Parking Strategy, the Transportation Master Plan, and on and on…

We’ve been busy, and we’re looking forward to 2021 and continuing to keep Ottawa accountable to creating safe streets for people who choose to use active transportation.

Happy New Year, we hope 2021 brings you many joyful bike rides!