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One lap of Pelee Island

The family booked a couple of days in a cottage on Pelee Island, and of course the first thing that popped into my head was that I had to bike all the way around it, a distance of about 27 km, dead flat. My whip of choice was the Haul a Day, since it would be fun to be joined on the ride with Lucy. Here we are setting off on East Shore Rd, near the northeast corner, headed north.

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Lots of way finding signs. It seemed that at least a third of the roads on the island were marked as bike routes.

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Here we are at Scudder’s Marina on the north end. Google Maps still seems to think that the ferry arrives here, but in fact the ferry terminal moved to the south west corner some time ago. One of the few stores on the island is nearby.

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Headed west on North Shore Rd, you can see a row of small cottages for rent on one of the few sandy stretches of beach on the north shore.

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The southern most school in Canada, by which I take it that there is only one school on the island.

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Just as we turn south on West Shore Rd, I see a tree of shoes at Hooper’s Corner.

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Just a little further on, this memorial to a cancer victim.

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Sunset Beach on the west side, one of the few sandy beaches on this side.

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Most of the west side is rocky, with the properties across the street from the water. You can see the ferry marina off in the distance.

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There are a small cluster of commercial buildings near the ferry terminal. Here is the OPP detachment.

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This is apparently going to be a craft brewery.

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There was also a bike rental place, an ice cream store, and most importantly, an LCBO.

Biking past the winery, we headed further south on McCormick Rd.

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This is the furthest south you can go in Canada by road, the trailhead to Fish Point. Note that the parking lot is full, and yet only two of the bikes were locked up. No cars in evidence. Maybe Pelee Island is my kind of place!

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Leaving our exploration for Fish Point for another time, we cycle towards the southeast corner of the island. At this intersection, we are directed north, although we were highly intrigued by the sign for “the last mohican”.

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Headed north on Stone Rd.

DSC01499East Park Beach. The entire east side was more or less sandy beach. I was told by a local that the beaches were about half their usual width due to high lake levels this year.

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Most of the properties on the east side were right on the water, and many of them were either behind a protective berm or on stilts.

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And our ride is done for the day.

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Our one lap left a few places yet to be explored. We were determined to go back to Fish Point, which is the furthest inhabited point in Canada. A short hike though woods and by wetlands brought us to land’s end.

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Here is Lucy as far south as we could get. The island in the distance is Middle Island, which is a nature preserve.

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Looking a Google Maps, you can see that the sand spit is much shorter than usual. The blue dot is where we are.

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All of Canada is north of Lucy. Latitude-wise, we are south of the California/Oregon border!

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While we hiked back along the beach, I saw a fat bike riding along the surf line. It was only as it drew closer that I realized that it was equipped with a bobike kid seat. It was the kind of thing that I would have done if fat bikes were available 13 years ago. Way to go, bike dad!

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The next day, we set off in the early morning to see the northernmost part of the island, Lighthouse Point. Here is the trail leading north.

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The trail ends at the beach as we trek further north.

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The lighthouse!

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You can actually go a little further north of the lighthouse, but there was not much to see.

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On the way back, the largest remaining wetland on the island to the right, and some nice houses on the left.

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Overall, I’d say that Pelee Island is ideal for family biking. We saw many family groups with kids biking. Granted our one lap of the island was done on a Sunday afternoon in late August, but during that entire time, we got passed by perhaps ten cars. I’d say that about 3/4 of the roads were gravel or dirt, so narrow tires would not be the best choice.

Lucy and I bid adieu to the island after a very pleasant stay.

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The extended family met up in Banff, and today we rented some bikes to take a spin around the Banff golf course: a lightly travelled paved loop.  We started on the 200 block of Bear Street, which was billed as a woonerff.

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In reality, they removed some parking spaces and made some patios and bike parking, but the car through traffic didn’t seem to pay much attention to the fact that they didn’t have the right of way all the time. On the plus side, there were three bike rental companies on this short block.

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Here is our group getting staged.

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and we’re off, headed to a multi use trail along the Bow river.

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Along the river.

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Pausing for a group photo on the new pedestrian/bike bridge which is just a little ways from the old crossing.

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Passing a horse drawn carriage.

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Regrouping after a pause at the foot of Bow Falls.

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Between us, we had rented three of these Fiori tandems, which are made by Norco.

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The golf course loop is a peaceful ride through beautiful scenery.

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lunch break by the river

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and we’re off again.

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My nephew always wants to be in the lead.

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Unfortunately, Dad’s stance on his tandem didn’t afford him a great view of scenery.

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Mom was my stoker for most of the ride.

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Just before the end, I switched stokers to younger daughter, and there was a noticeable uptick in speed.

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Pausing at the top of the climb by Bow Falls.

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And back across the river.

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Banff seems to be trying to promote cycling, There are certainly a few really nice pieces of infrastructure such as the bridge, as well as the path between Banff and Canmore. In the town itself, most of the bike routes had wayfinding signage and sharrows. The main safety enhancement is that the speed limit in town has been lowered to 30 kph, and by the way the traffic was moving, it seemed to be enforced.

 

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This past weekend, I was able to make a return visit to G&O Family Cyclery, Seattle’s specialist cargo bike and family bike dealer. Since my visit two years ago. the shop burned to the ground, and was finally back up in a new place about a block north of the old location.

The new store is significantly more spacious than the prior location.

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In the front window, I could see the newly updated model of the Xtracycle Edgerunner, and a Reise and Muller cargobike that I didn’t recognize.

Once again, stepping inside, I’m in cargo bike heaven, with lots to gawk at. The red Bullitt with the custom wood box was being picked up by an excited customer.

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Here is a customer’s Family Tandem, just like ours, but with lots of nice additions, like a BionX motor, rear moose rack for a Burley Piccolo, double legged kickstand, a sprung Brooks saddle, and grip king pedals.

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A tern folder with the integrated Bosch e-assist, in front of a variety of Reise and Muller e-bikes.

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The latest version of the Yuba Spicy Curry, which I was told had a much better  e-assist than earlier versions.

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The frame mount for a front basket on the new Xtracycle Swoop.

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A Yuba stride bike with a front basket and very cute colour scheme.

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Carsick Design sling bags with a custom logo.

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The pièce de résistance: a Butcher and Bicycles tilting trike. I absolutely had to try it.

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Co-owner Davey Oil was very gracious and explained a couple of things about it before I took it for a test ride. This pictures shows the only time during my visit where he didn’t have a smile on his face.

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Riding the tilting trike was fascinating. I was advised that at low speed, it steers like a normal trike, where the tilting feature is almost irrelevant, but above about 15 miles an hour is where it makes a transition to the feel of a two wheeler. In truth, with my unfamiliarity with the combination of the tilting, the Bosch e-assist, and the NuVinci transmission, riding it was like ten minutes of full sensory overload. While I never got a chance to be fully comfortable with the starting, on a short downhill stretch I got the feel of the tilting, where it steered just as stably as a (two wheeled) bakfiets. Davey said that aside from its superior high speed stability, it was a bike particularly suited to parents with children with developmental difficulties, where the ease of loading passengers with the opening front panel was a big factor in its favour.

Davey was very kind letting me pick his brain about the cargo bike scene in Seattle. I noted the fact that e-assist seemed to be a much bigger part of their inventory, and he emphasized that for Seattle, not only was e-assist very helpful, but high speed stability was equally important for all the downhills. I neglected to take pictures of the one lonely Haul a Day on the shop floor, but he pointed out that it was the model with the heavy duty frame (“Haula Abdul”), and that they had a custom component spec that was much more suited to local conditions. Much of the feedback to Bike Friday in developing the heavy duty model came from G&O.

He also pointed out some of the features of the new Xtracycle Swoop, in particular the thru axle front fork that makes it much more stiff, as well as eliminating the possibility of front wheel ejection while using the disk brake.

The other bike that he spent some time discussing was the Reise and Muller Load which is the darker blue bike in the first picture. He said that the combination of the stiff frame and dual suspension was a revelation, and that the resulting high speed stability made it an ideal bike for Seattle’s hills, despite its somewhat limited cargo capacity.

Once again, I’d say that Seattleites are very fortunate to have a shop like G&O that not only has a comprehensive selection of cargo bikes, but even more importantly has the expertise to advise customers on the very best bike/trike for their needs.

Side note: on my way to and from the shop, I was able to check out the newly painted 92nd St bike lane, and I liked the fact that it had green paint at every cross street.

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I am truly blessed to have these two fine fellows as friends. Tim Potter (left) is the director of the MSU bike project, long time bike advocate, and webmaster for the Ride of Silence. http://www.rideofsilence.org/main.php His brother Jeff is also a life long cyclist and blogger at http://www.outyourbackdoor.com/DSC00441

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Cycle Hamilton  is a relatively new cycling advocacy group. They were running a Cycle Advocacy Week, and I figured that a ride they ran today would be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the bike infrastructure  and to get a bit of a feel about what was going on in my hometown. Given that it’s been 40 years since I’ve actually lived there, I knew that a lot had changed.

We gathered at City Hall. Kudos to them; this is the first bike related event that I’ve ever been to where more people showed up than were “going” on Facebook. There was a mix, everyone from a bike dad with son to a bunch of roadies in Lycra.

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Johanna (co-founder of Cycle Hamilton) gives us the scoop on the ride before we start. She says that today’s ride focuses on the fact that a popular route up the escarpment, Sydenham Rd, is due for some infrastructure improvements, but that bike lanes are not included in the plan, even though this route is on the Cycling Master Plan.

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And off we go. Look, a bidirectional bike lane!

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Parking buffered bike lane on Charlton.

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Note the wayfinding signs.

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Entering a section of trail that goes along the northern border of Chedoke golf course.

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Stop to regroup.

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Here we go.

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The lead group.

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The rail trail.  Very nice and wide.

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Threading through the Mac campus.

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and down towards Dundas along Cootes Dr.

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Dundas.

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Pulling up to the Shed Brewery.

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A brief stop to figure out who was going to brave the hill. It turns out that pretty much everyone was going to do it.

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Here we go.

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Not steep yet.

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OK, time for the granny gear.

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People arriving.

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Proof that I made it. Thanks to Mark for taking the photo.

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The historical marker talks about how this is called Clara’s Climb, after Clara Hughes.

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These folks rode Sobi bikeshare bikes.

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Group shot.

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That’s Dave, chair of Cycle Hamilton, in the centre.

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The ride down was quick, and then it was time for beer. The Shawn & Ed Brewing company was kind enough to let us bring bikes in. I hauled a heavy lock up that hill for nothing!

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A good turnout. I was told that the building used to be a firehall, and then a curling rink, and now a beautifully retrofitted brewery.

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It was great to talk to these guys about what was going on bike wise in Hamilton. We argued over who had the more dysfunctional city council. Of course, I could always pull out the Rob Ford card. Their main issue with the bike lanes is that they don’t form a continuous network. Sounds familiar.

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The fellow on the right Mark Chamberlain, runs a ride called Bike for Mike that raises funds to provide underprivileged youth with bikes. They have a multi pronged approach to getting young people on bikes, including having them earn their bikes by pledging to bike to school, etc. They are taking the long view on encouraging the next generation of bike riders and potential bike advocates.  I can’t remember the exact date of the next ride, but I believe that it is going to be the first Sunday in May.

A few pictures of infra on my way back downtown. We biked by this sign on the way out.

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I like this bollard shielded bump out for pedestrian safety and traffic calming.

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The bike lane on Herkimer which is the one way complement to Charlton. These bike lanes just went in this year just went in this year.

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Thanks to Cycle Hamilton for running this event!

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Update: Don’s much better pictures on facebook.

Update #2: my ride report from Bike for Mike 2017.

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Biking in Oslo

I’ve made a quick trip to Oslo on business, and after arriving in the city before 7 am, it was time to check out what it’s like to bike around early Sunday morning. I elected to buy a season subscription to the bike share system (299 NOK is about $50 CDN), rather than renting on a day by day basis from local shop Viking Biking. Here is the bike station nearest my hotel.

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After a quick launch of their app, it prompts me to take a specific bike by number. Each ride can span up to three hours which is very generous. The season runs from April to November.

Here is the bike. It has a Nexus 3 spd hub, and also 24″ Schwalbe Big Apple tires. As bike share bikes go, this one is pretty light. I can boost up the front wheel to mount curbs pretty easily on this one.

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This is typical of one of the official bike lanes downtown. Note the wayfinding signs. At the same time, parts of the marked bike routes did not have obvious bike lane markings, and were more akin to the bikeways that you would find in Vancouver.  Biking this early in the morning with limited car traffic was a pleasure.

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One of the pages that I visited about biking in Oslo (apparently not this one) noted that the Akeselva river was a good route to follow. It has a beautiful multuse trail along parts of its length, but just because it’s along a river doesn’t mean that it’s flat. Fortunately I rode it in the downstream direction. This is a picture of a steep section: note the fairly substantial waferfall.

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A little further down, another waterfall.

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Another bridge, this time encouraging the practice of putting padlocks on it.

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Right beside this point, I note a huge forest of bike racks, and some swanky buildings. Turns out it is the Oslo National Academy of the Arts.

Early in the morning, people are fishing down at the waterfront.

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Lots of bike parking near the ferries.

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I eventually make my way westward around the harbour to a swanky new neighbourhood called Tjuvholmen. Here is a waterfront promenade with cafes that haven’t opened yet. (note that it was not possible to find a cafe open before 9 on a Sunday morning, although I did ride by a bakery earlier in the ride).

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Going as far as I could, I ended up just a little past the Astrup Fearnley Museum, and then water.

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Lo and behold, I’m beside an outdoor bathing area, and there were already two hardy souls in the water around 8 am. I did check the water and it was surprisingly warm. I regret not bringing a swimsuit.

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At this point, I do a quick check with the cycling app to see where the nearest station is. You can see that Google maps thinks I’m in the water.

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Turns out that the nearest station is right beside the Nobel Peace Prize museum.

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All you do to return a bike is lift up the front wheel slightly and engage a bracket just above the fork. You can take any open slot.

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and now the app tells you that you’ve returned the bike.

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To check one out again, you click “unlock bike” on a page associated with the nearest bike station.

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Here is the prompt page that tells you which bike to take.

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Now off further to the west along this bidirectional bike path to check out the Bygdøy neighbourhood which has a cluster of museums.

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The huge amount of foot traffic is coming from that cruise ship.

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I hope this is Norwegian for “share the road”

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On my way to the Norwegian Folklore Museum, I’m directed onto this gravel path that is a nice green break from the city streets.

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Eventually I got to some museums to see stuff like this:

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I will note that the nearest bike station to the maritime museum is still a brisk 20 minute walk away, which is a bit disappointing, given that they are promoting biking in this area. In this respect, short term renters might be better opting for a rental bike with a bike lock, like these from Viking Biking, but bike share is cheaper on a per day basis for more than two days.

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I saw these signs posted in the neighbourhood that seem to argue against further expansion of bike infrastructure in this corner of the city. (It turns out that the bike lanes appear to have been approved over some local opposition).

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By now it’s mid afternoon, and when I get back to the same promenade that I shot earlier this morning, it looks like this:

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and now people are having trouble finding open slots to park at the bike share station as well

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and later that evening, I see the truck used to redistribute bikes.

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Overall, it’s been a fun first day, made better of course by biking. The bikeshare system works well, although I wish that I could park anywhere (like Glasgow). Perhaps the best solution would have been to have a cheap cable lock so that you can park away from a bike share station for sub three hour periods. That would have given me a bit more flexibility moving around today.

The other thing I can recommend is the Oslo Pass. It gives you free admission to many museums, and free use of public transit as well. Very easy to get your money’s work in either a 24 or 48 hour period.

Update: a few more shots around town.

Here is a bike lane with speed bumps. I couldn’t help noticing that many cyclists avoided them by riding on the sidewalk.

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Contraflow lane, Oslo style.

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I really like the realism of the bike part of this sculpture.

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Bike counter. Unfortunately, the display was multiplexed so you can’t see the numbers in this photo.

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Dapper sells clothing, Brooks, and haircuts. Unfortunately, their bike shop around the corner was closed at the time.

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Was in Hamilton this weekend, and I noticed some changes on Locke St since our last visit to the neighbourhood. Firstly, I see that Steam Whistle Brewery bike repair stations have made it to the Hammer.
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Also, it seems that the bikeshare system is a hit, and I noticed some nice enhancements at this station. I like the fact that the advertising on the rack and sign is hyperlocal.

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Also, it looks like wayfinding has been added as part of a 100 in 1 day project. This should be done in Toronto.

 

 

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