2013 Tulips on Two Wheels: a Bit of Holland in Ottawa


Our booth along the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site.
Our booth along the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site.

One of Citizens for Safe Cycling’s goals is to make the public more familiar with the many issues that arise around cycling. There are many ways to stay in touch through social media and meetings, but we often preach to the converted at our meetings and to our followers on Twitter and Facebook. Those are the people who put effort in finding us. But there is a whole demographic out there who cycles but doesn’t realise what it takes to build Ottawa’s bike infrastructure. And with infrastructure we don’t mean bike lanes only, but also bike parking for example.

Risa, talking to passers by who ended up by two of our new T-shirts.
Risa, talking to passersby who ended up buying two of our new T-shirts.

So last year we initiated a new activity, our ‘Tulips on Two Wheels‘, spearheaded by Risa and Simone. We put up a booth along the Canal near Canal Ritz (a local restaurant, once visited by President Clinton, not that that influences the choice of the location though). We planned it such, that the tulips should be starting to bloom. It was a sunny day and we had lots of people stopping by. Fairly late in the planning, we learned we had chosen the same weekend as Jane’s Walk Ottawa. We added a bike tour along the tulips, led by Alex deVries. There were also two bike mechanics of Cycle Salvation, a social enterprise operating under the umbrella of Causeway Work Centre, who looked after free bike tune ups in our booth.

Citizens for Safe Cycling organised two free well attended bike tours along the canal and the tulips about the Netherlands tulip legacy.
Citizens for Safe Cycling organised two free well attended bike tours along the canal and the tulips about the Netherlands tulip legacy.

This year, in 2013, we officially integrated with Jane’s Walk Ottawa, with Alex’ bike tours in the 2013 Jane’s Walk schedule. We had another great day, and it felt like a thousand cyclists were passing our station. It was a constant flow of families cycling by. Our mechanics were busy all the time. The weather was great and we talked to lots of new people who had never heard of us. Our new banner worked great in attracting attention to the booth.

Our bike mechanics were busy all the time.
Our bike mechanics were busy all the time.

If there is one message we took home from all the people we talked to, it was that people love to bike more, love to see more bike infrastructure and love to see the city to become a real bike city. We talked to people who just started to cycle (again) encouraged by either friends or family or discouraged by the ever increasing cost of owning a car. We talked to out of towners from Haliberton to BC and Newfoundland who wanted to see the tulips and chose the bike to get around, we talked to people who needed maps, we sold a few T-shirts and bike seat covers with our logo.

It was a great day to connect with people. Look out for us again next year. After two years, we have refined the event, although it stands and falls with descent weather. Here are a few impressions of the day.

This was pretty much the picture for most of the day.
This was pretty much the picture for most of the day.
Father and child reunion on the bike.
Father and child reunion on the bike.
Lots of people on casual bike trips.
Lots of people on casual bike trips.
An endless stream of cyclists. Later in the season we can check the counter results on the City's Open Data website.
An endless stream of cyclists. Later in the season we can check the counter results on the City’s Open Data website.
One of Alex' bike tours is just starting here.
One of Alex’ bike tours is just starting here.
Two women who used the OC Transpo bike rack service to get into town to bike around.
Two women who used the OC Transpo bike rack service to get into town to bike around.
And of course, the Bixi bikes were in high demand too.
And of course, the Bixi bikes were in high demand too.

We could not have asked for a better day to promote cycling: sunny, 24 degrees (75F), no wind and the first tulips were blooming. At times, it felt like standing along a Dutch bicycle path along the canal in the middle of the famous Dutch tulip fields. Who said that Canada is not suitable for cycling again? Thanks to all the volunteers to make this possible and to MP Paul Dewar for supporting us with this event.

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