New Ottawa bike bridge forthcoming

On my first day of work for Environment Canada in August 2007, I was staying in the basement of a family friend in Orleans. I had never taken the transit route to the Terrasses de la Chaudière (TLC) complex and it was already hot in the early morning, doubly so in a suit and tie.

Since I was on an express bus, I falsely assumed that it would stop at every stop, like a subway train, even if nobody pressed the stop request. As such, I found myself zooming past the LeBreton Flats stop where I was meant to change buses.

I didn’t yet have a smartphone, and I didn’t know the route for the bus — so I didn’t know if waiting on the opposite side of the street would yield a bus going back to the stop I missed. Since I was still very early for work and the bus had only driven a few minutes between stops, I got off and began walking back east along the transitway.

Soon I was stopped by a police squadcar, who, despite my explanation of having my first day of work starting and not knowing the bus routes, insisted that I could not walk along the edge of the dedicated bus road. Oddly, they told me I should walk through an area of empty scrubland to a railway bridge, and walk across that into Quebec.

It seemed an odd choice for the police. Either they were trying to uphold the law or protect my safety, but neither objective was clearly served by this plan. Nonetheless, it would be years yet before the city fenced off the out-of-service Price of Wales bridge, so I was able to walk across without trouble, reach work early, and meet my first colleague.

I told her the story of my walk hoping it would be a small humanizing connection between the two of us, but she rapidly shared the story with the whole office.

I was reminded of the whole incident while waiting by my departure gate at Pearson airport this morning, because I ran across a news story about how the bridge is being converted into dedicated cycle infrastructure. That seems like a great choice. The nearby Chaudiere bridge is rather harrowing, with cars racing down the narrow lanes quite close to exposed pedestrians. The nearest nice cycle crossing is essentially at the far side of Gatineau, at the Alexandra Bridge. Hopefully, once the new bike bridge opens I will get the chance to try it on two wheels on a future Ottawa visit. The bridge is in a great location to connect the excellent riverside bike path to, first, the densest concentration of federal government buildings in Quebec and, second, the enormous Gatineau Park which begins as a thin wedge nearby.

A trend that apparently cannot be sustained

The timing of me getting pushed out of 611A Marlee Avenue seems to have been especially bad.

I have been room-hunting for months now, and what I have mostly seen has been individual rooms in shared apartments for around $1500 and up. That means paying more for a room than I ever have for a whole apartment, and so far none of the rooms I have seen have actually been desirable to live in.

Three trips

Particularly during the dissertation writing phase, I have largely been confined to Toronto and the GTA for the last few years.

That made my recent trips to Ottawa, Guelph, and the Catchacoma forest all the more appreciated:

My urgent tasks are finding affordable housing and a job, but I am looking forward to an active spring and summer of wilderness and crown land camping.

Ottawa visit

I took a short but lovely comms off vacation to see my dear friends Andrea and Mehrzad in Ottawa. Having left my phone turned off in a box at home along with the token I need to login to GMail and pretty much all other online services was de-stressing and liberating, though I spent most of the weekend playing with their funny dogs and their extreme cute tornado-haired baby.

The one significant block of time I spent alone was a 15 km walk past familiar Ottawa sights: the Chaudière falls with their newly expanded hydroelectric facility; the TLC complex with its new cages to protect people from falling brick fragments; my old favourite depanneur in Gatineau; the Alexandra bridge; official buildings along Sussex Avenue; a circumnavigation of the Rideau Hall grounds; and then a walk back west past the University of Ottawa.

As ever my friends were exceptionally kind to me, plying me with excellent food and sharing the amusing company of their young son, who I learned enjoys having me jump beside him and make velociraptor snarling noises.