Rack ‘em up! Wellington West first in Ottawa to adopt new bike corrals

By Ted Simpson –

Two bicycle corrals have arrived in Wellington West as part of a new project by the City of Ottawa in the continuing effort to promote cycling in the city. They’re the first of their kind to be built in Ottawa.

There’s no missing Kitchissippi’s new bike corrals. Hintonburg’s Chris Harlock locks up his bike. Photo by Ted Simpson.
There’s no missing Kitchissippi’s new bike corrals. Hintonburg’s Chris Harlock locks up his bike. Photo by Ted Simpson.

Each corral occupies the equivalent of one large vehicle parking space and accommodates 12 bikes. One corral is installed at Wellington and Clarendon, in front of the Ottawa Bagelshop and a second at Wellington and Fairmont in front of Bridgehead.

The parking corrals are seasonal, and will be removed in October and reinstalled next May.

The idea originates in Portland Oregon where there are now over one hundred bike corrals, and it’s been in the works here in Ottawa for nearly three years. The city chose Wellington West as an established main street for the pilot project. Wellington West BIA Chair Randy Kemp saw it as an ideal way to ease bicycle congestion.

“There was a bike parking problem in front of the Bridgehead at Fairmont,” says Kemp. “I saw eight bicycles heaped onto one post-and-ring and it was like an epiphany, this is where the bike corral needs to go.”

A second location at Clarendon was chosen as the busiest block on the West end of the street.

“We really have two distinct neighbourhoods, Hintonburg and Wellington Village, and we want – to the best of our ability – to represent both communities,” says Kemp.

The installation of the corrals comes at the same time that the Wellington West BIA is set to announce that the neighbourhood has been granted a Cycling Friendly Business Area designation by the Ontario by Bike Network. This is the first area in Ontario to receive the designation.

BIA Executive Director Zachary Dayler says the idea is for Wellington not just to be a neighbourhood to cycle through, but a destination for cyclists. Dayler explains: “Cyclists can start, finish, and hang out in this area and their needs will be met.”

Response to the project has been mostly positive, though the corrals are not without their critics. Comments from the general public have ranged from “garish” to “ridiculous” and some are concerned about the visibility of the structure at night.

Response to the project has been mostly positive, though the corrals are not without their critics. Comments from the general public have ranged from “garish” to “ridiculous” and some are concerned about the visibility of the structure at night. Photo by Ted Simpson.
Response to the project has been mostly positive, though the corrals are not without their critics. Comments from the general public have ranged from “garish” to “ridiculous” and some are concerned about the visibility of the structure at night. Photo by Ted Simpson.

For nearby businesses like Bridgehead and Café My House that promote sustainability and environmental protection, the cycling project is a natural fit to their aesthetic. Briana Kim, owner of Café My House, offers a five per cent discount to her customers who arrive by bike.

“Encouraging customers to bike more is very important to me,” says Kim.

Wellington currently has 268 post-and-ring bike racks spread along the length of the street, and each holds two bicycles. The new corrals give excess bikes a place that is off the sidewalk and out of the way of foot traffic and patios.

The funding for this project comes from the City of Ottawa’s Parking Reserve that uses funds from the pay-and-display parking system.

What do you think of the new bike corrals? Send your thoughts to editor@kitchissippi.com.

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