No more sweaty angry middle aged cyclists in tight spandex ot lycra in front of the camera.

Ottawa’s First Plaid Parade a Big Hit


Approaching the Arboretum with around 200 people, crossing Prince of Wales.

It takes quite a bit to surprise me, but this morning on November 3rd at 11 am and only 3° Celsius (37°F) outside, I was taken aback by the large amount of cyclists gathering at Suzie Q Donuts on Wellington Street West. That is where the First Ottawa Plaid Parade started, yet another bike initiative that injects a bit more fun into Ottawa and nudging Ottawa forward to become a leading North American bicycle city.

Usually, I am not so sure about cycling in a circle with a group through town, but I am slowly starting to enjoy these type of events. I just didn’t grow up with bike events much, as cycling is so normal in Holland, that you don’t really create events around it. But as Shane Norris from RightBike In Hintonburg puts it: “it is all about community building with like minded people“. Don’t forget to check out the beautiful video at the bottom of this post.

Not only bearded guys in reflective gear any more in November.

So there we were, surrounded by press, chatting with friends and local cycling advocates. Watching just under 200 cyclists leaving Suzie Q’s, I thought of a question former Mayor of Ottawa Larry O’Brian (who?) once asked me in a meeting at the NCC with 15 mayors from Quebec and Eastern Ontario: “Why bother with cycling infrastructure when you can only cycle six months a year?” Clearly, there are many Ottawans who are not afraid for the cooler weather.

Well, there is one, but stylish. CBC’s Giacomo Panico with CBC scarf in the back ground appears to approve.

The 6 km loop was well thought out, with large parts going through Hintonburg, the Arboretum and the Experimental Farm, and also on the road. Crossing major arteries always pose a challenge as the group is large and slow. Crossing six lane Carling with little kids turned out to be a timing challenge, but eventually every one made it. Drivers were patient, with the odd one shaking one’s head. People along the road waved, home owners raking leaves (in plaids) wondered what was going on.

Can you be more plaid?

What a great idea! I actually had to go out to buy plaids, fortunately Value Village is around the corner. (By the way, ten years ago Value Village’s parking lots saw at the most 10 cars or so, now it is more like 70, a sign of the squeezed family budget times ahead. In an odd twist of supply and demand though, prices appear to have gone up compared with a few years ago, as demand for their stuff is rising). I couldn’t find pants, so I settled for brand new (but probably rejects) Dockers with a Houndstooth pattern. It is not the type of word that you learn in English text books in Holland, but Lana Stewart of Walk Ottawa pointed this new word out to me when I asked for her approval. Low and behold, that same evening a woman passes me in a coat with a giant Houndstooth pattern.

Tartan is one of the patterns known as plaid. This is Nelson Edwards, urban planner at the City of Ottawa and in charge of Down town Moves.
President of Citizens for Safe Cycling Hans Moor embraces Julie Goulet, who works at the bike department of the NCC. This is part of her bike immersion course. We’ll hear more from her, for sure. If you paid attention, you’ll see her on Bixi bike posters across town too. In the grey checkered jacket in the background, Citizens for Safe Cycling VP, Alex DeVries.
Ready for action.
The parade waiting to cross Wellington St.
Lining up the cyclists.
There is 2010 Bruce Timmermans Award winner and Hintonburg cycling diva Kathleen Wilker on her extra long bike.
And there is Oliva Chow’s assistant and general cycling advocate Catherine Henry with the polka dot helmet. Not the designer from Montreal, but always well dressed anyway.
Velofest organiser Dick Louch on his kid’s bike with milk crate and banana seat.
A helmet over a cap works too. Cycling at 12 km/hr, it is harder to stay warm.
There is François Levesque of Apartment 613 on the left, one of the partners in the event. François just became proud father of Sam, about a month ago.
Kids in plaids too.
Baskets and Fixis in one parade, who would have thought.
Endless varieties.
No more sweaty bearded angry middle aged cyclists in tight spandex in front of the camera. The camera on her head is still a bit nerdy though.
Probably Canada’s only mobile human powered bar is local beer brewer Kichissippi’s Beer bakfiets (cargo bike), here manned by Brad Kudurudz of Tall Tree Cycles. The pressure cannister is mounted on the luggage carrier. The bakfiets bar is custom tailored by Tall Tree Cycles in Ottawa.

If the video doesn’t work, click here. For another fashion & bike related blog post, click here.

Pictures by Urban Commuter Ottawa

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8 thoughts on “Ottawa’s First Plaid Parade a Big Hit

  1. Larry O’Brien admitted to there being six months of cycling? That’s quite generous of him considering that he referred to cycling as being a “summer” activity and he was not prepared to apply dedicated funding for cycling infrastructure during the last election.

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