Reflections on My 2013 Biking Season

Now that I bike all year there is no end to the season but the putting away of the summer bikes and taking out of the winter bike marks the end of a season for me now. (Note: click on images in this blog post to enlarge them.)

Remembering Mario

As I reflect on the past season I feel a sense of guilt for feeling that I have had one of my best seasons yet, for how can I feel that way when we have lost our dear friend Mario in a tragic traffic incident.

I first met Mario about ten years ago in pre-OMBA (Ottawa Mountain Bike Association) days when MTB Kanata used to organize weeknight Jack Pine rides and weekend rides on what were then called the Kanata Lakes trails, which included the SMH (South March Highlands) trails on both sides of the Terry Fox Drive extension (which didn't exist then) through the forest.

One of my first memories is a road trip to CFMBA (Charlottenburgh Forest Mountain Bike Area ) near Cornwall. During the ride Mario noticed some issues with the trails, so of course, being Mario, he was back again for several weekends doing trail work.

Back in those days MTB Kanata used to sponsor several teams in the Tour Nortel (now CN Cycle for CHEO) and of course Mario was always a big supporter. Here is an image from the MTB Kanata newsletter of one of the few times Mario has actually “gone public” about what he has done. You can really tell he loved riding that bike.

One of my first memories of Mario's patience was a group ride on Outback where he was riding sweep. I remember finding it very challenging but he kept encouraging me even as we kept falling farther behind everyone else. Finally after taking a bit of a secret shortcut that he knew about near the end we finished about an hour, or maybe much more, after everyone else. Rather than being upset with me for holding him back Mario was more happy that I had accomplished the challenge.

And of course Mario was not a fair weather rider – he rode all seasons and loved his winter riding, he even perfected the making of spiked tires for winter riding, which, of course he had to share with everyone else on the OMBA forums.

When I started to volunteer for trail days for a couple of seasons Mario was always one of the regulars and if he wasn't there it was probably because he was helping somebody else with something.

One of my best biking seasons ever was the season that Mario was leading Group D on the Thursday Night Rides. You could not find a better person to lead a group of struggling beginners on the trails and he always tried to provide variety in the trails. As well as the usual SMH trails he would take us on the old Kanata Lakes Trails including the old Lost and Found Trails behind the GFR parking lot and the trails on the other side of GFR. One of his favourite things to point out was the H-tree, a tree along the trail that had grown in the shape of an H. (I have to go and find that tree now). I always loved that about Mario because that is the sort of thing that I would notice and it just re-emphasized that for Mario, like many of us, mountain biking is not the macho stereotype that is all about mindlessly ripping around on your bike, but it is just as much about being in the forest with nature.

The last time I saw Mario was at this year's Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day where our two groups kept leap frogging each other, even though I supposedly had the slower group. He had a couple of slower riders that he thought might fit in better with our group and asked me if I would take them, and of course I said yes. But, being Mario he didn't want to single them out so he asked everyone to express how tired out there were in a number between 1 and 10 and then suggested those that said 5 or less join my group. But nobody wanted to leave Mario's group and that was fine with him, and fortuitous for me as we kept leap frogging and I got to see Mario more often that day than I otherwise would, short little meetings on the trail that I will cherish forever.

Mario is remembered fondly by the Ottawa Mountain Biking Association and Trips For Kids Ottawa.

Mario would want us all to think positively, particularly about mountain biking and cycling that he loved so much, and he would want us to get out and ride as much as possible.

Statistical Overview

TOTAL KM         HOURS         MTB KM         HOURS         HYB KM         HOURS         WB KM         HOURS
4944.75               317.58           860.75             75.63           3244.70           188.27          839.30           53.68

So what do the numbers say about this year's season. The first thing we notice is an increase in total number of kilometres over time, a new record each year, 4451 for 2011, 4754 for 2012 and already passed that on Nov 21, 2013 at 4767, and 4945 on December 7, 2013, well on track for a over 5000 km for the year.

It would be nice to think I am doing that much more biking but the increasing hours is not as great, going from 290 in 2011 to 318 by December 7, 2013. What we also see is a shift from mountain biking hours to hybrid hours, in 2011, 100 vs 162 and in 2013 so far, 76 vs 188. Winter bike hours went from 28 in 2011 to 54 so far this year.

Average speed this season on the mountain bike was approximately 11.3 km/hr, while it was 17.25 km/hr on the hybrid and 15.5 km/hr on the winter bike.

So for various reasons, trail and weather conditions and the fact that I am beginning to really enjoy the long hybrid rides, I am putting more hours on the hybrid, increasing my distance at a faster rate than the same hours on the mountain bike. The number of hours on the winter bike is primarily determined by when the City decides to start and stop dumping salt on the roads and paths.

CN Cycle for CHEO

The CN Cycle for CHEO is the first “event” of the new cycling season. The winter bikes go away at the end of March when the snow and ice are off the roads and paths and while the trails are drying out it is a month of “training” on the hybrid for the CN Cycle for CHEO (previously Tour Nortel) at the beginning of May. I have been participating in this fund raising ride for the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario for about 10 years. This year my daughter Jasmine joined me in doing the 70 km route at a pace of about 21.5 km/hr (75.5 km at 19.5 km/hr, if you include to and from the parking lot.). During our training Jasmine was a bit slower than my pace so I let her lead hoping to do a pace of about 18 km/hr, but she led us at a pace of almost 21.5 km/hr, my best pace yet. We both managed to make the 500 Club raising over $500 each.

Mapping Project

This season I continued my project to map the Greenbelt trails and finished mapping the western Greenbelt trails with the NCC Trail 10 trail system near Shirleys Bay.

All of the maps from my project are included on the Backroad Mapbooks Ontario GPS Map and when the next version comes out in the spring all my western Greenbelt trail maps, including the NCC Trail 10 system will be included.

Also during this season I mapped the trails adjacent to the Jackson Trails community in Stittsville, what appears to be an unofficial trail system with an uncertain future.

Also, on a day when I was looking for someplace new to ride I mapped most of the pathways in Stittsville, which I just realized I have not posted yet, so here is the overview map and watch for more detailed maps to be posted in the Hybrid Routes section of my Richard's GPS Trail Maps website in the, hopefully near, future.

Tuesday Night Rides

While, for various reasons I may put more kilometres on my hydrid, the high point of my biking week are the Tuesday Night Rides, also known as TNRs (® Andy AKA FaustCan).

The TNRs are intended to supplement the OMBA Thursday night rides in the South March Highlands but on the easier and more varied Greenbelt Trails. All riders from beginner to advanced are welcome and encouraged to participate. The trails we ride range from easy to intermediate technical.

The history of the TNRs goes back to the MTBKanata Jack Pine rides, and after those faded out, the MTBK Nora's No-Drop rides that I usually led.

The TNRs are a casual and fun experience with a great group of riders, usually led by myself or my co-leader Andy, who, if not kept in check will lead us off onto Untrails. We are always looking for new people to join the group and add to the fun.

To find out when and where the next TNR is just check the OMBA Ride and Event Calendar.

My daughter Jasmine usually joins us on the TNRs and next year my other daughter Maggie, and my wife Christine, might be joining us. I am looking forward to that.

Take A Kid Mountain Biking Day

My last bike event of the year is Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day where the the whole mountain biking community comes together to help Trips for Kids Ottawa get kids out of the house and away from the video games and into the bush to enjoy mountain biking, exercise and nature. My daughter Jasmine and I both volunteer to lead groups on the trails for this big event.

Below is Mario leading his group onto the trails at this event that he loved so much.

Winter Biking

I first started winter biking in December 2009 on a cheap $100 Supercyle, with studded tires that cost more than the bike, but I enjoyed it so much that when that bike died I replaced it in October 2011 with a used but better winter bike from Cycle Salvation. Later that season in February 2012, I modified itto make it more like a hybrid riding stance. And before the beginning of this season I added a panier rack and replaced the seat with a more comfortable one. The plan was to replace the chain and cassette at the end of this season but on my first ride I notice considerable chain slippage when I tried riding on trails or whenever I had to power pedal, such as going up hard hills. So it was back in to Eric at Phat Moose Cycles to get the chain and cassette replaced and now it is running like new. This is the winter bike in it's current incarnation.

The key to winter biking is keeping warm and I use the dressing in layers technique that I use for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing for my winter biking and wear my winter hiking boots instead of my biking shoes,.Winter biking has it's limitations but it does allow me to keep biking regularly throughout the winter.

Because many of the pathways are not cleared at all and others do not get cleared quickly, most of my biking is on the local community roadways, and again, because side streets are not always cleared quickly I have a number of regular routes that involve the collector streets in Bridlewood and Glen Cairn. However, I will sometimes go farther afield such as down Terry Fox Drive to Second Line and back via Old Crap Road, Huntmar Drive and Fernbank Road. Of course I have the advantage as a recreational cyclist rather than commuter to not have to be on the roads during rush hour.

Cycling advocacy

I have also used this blog and my Twitter feed to advocate for cycling issues.

In June I raised the issue of why the Prince of Wales Bridge isn't a bikeway and proposed a relatively inexpensive way to make it happen quickly. Since then the idea has been included in the City's Transportation Master Plan but as a much more expensive project in the distant future.

Photo Source

In July I blogged about Kanata's Secret Segregated Bike Lane, what appeared to be a low cost way to create a segregated bike, lane only to discover it was actually an “at-grade asphalt sidewalk“.

Perhaps my most important cycling blog post of the year was in August when, following a Twitter exchange, I posted Thoughts on Taking The Lane where I outlined the legal justification for cyclists taking the lane and stated:

While I am not one of those “vehicular cyclists”, that oppose cycling infrastructure because they think that the best place for all cyclists is on the roads competing for space with car drivers, I do believe that cyclists have a right to be able to ride on the roads safely. I also agree with the City of Ottawa when they tell cyclists “never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist”.

One of the most important ways that cyclists can ensure their safety on the roads is by taking the lane (riding in the middle of the lane of traffic) when appropriate and necessary

I also wrote a blog post in June relating to a proposal to widen roads through the Greenbelt to save commuters a few minutes in traffic during rush hour where I pointed out that:

Along this route proposed for widening there are two NCC parking lots, P6 and P11 with trail systems on both sides where crossing from one side to the other is already very difficult and dangerous. If any widening of these roads is allowed the NCC must insist that it include a solution that provides safe passage between the trail systems on both sides of the roads at the locations of those parking lots.


My life is good now and I am enjoying my retirement and cycling, especially mountain biking, is a very big part of that, thanks in large part to the friendly welcoming nature of the Ottawa mountain biking community. I enjoy cycling all year round but am especially looking forward to the next mountain biking season and the return of the Tuesday Night Rides.


The Bottom Line on the Parti Québécois Proposed Values Charter

I was going to write a long blog post on this but since so much has been written about it I think this captures the spirit and intent of the proposal succinctly.

The bottom line on Quebec's proposed values charter is that you can visit a hospital named after a saint with a crucifix in the lobby and be guaranteed not to be treated by a Muslim doctor in a hijab because they want to remove religious symbols from public institutions.


Thoughts on Taking The Lane

Updated 2013-11-11

As I am not an expert on cycling safety this post is not intended to be advice on how to safely take the lane but only my thoughts on the subject.

While I am not one of those “vehicular cyclists”, that oppose cycling infrastructure because they think that the best place for all cyclists is on the roads competing for space with car drivers, I do believe that cyclists have a right to be able to ride on the roads safely. I also agree with the City of Ottawa when they tell cyclists “never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist”.

One of the most important ways that cyclists can ensure their safety on the roads is by taking the lane (riding in the middle of the lane of traffic) when appropriate and necessary.

The Legal Right to Take The Lane

The legal right to do this is provided in the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8.

Slow vehicles to travel on right side

147. (1) Any vehicle travelling upon a roadway at less than the normal speed of traffic at that time and place shall, where practicable, be driven in the right-hand lane then available for traffic or as close as practicable to the right hand curb or edge of the roadway. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 147 (1).

The key phrase here is “where practicable” and while that is not defined in the Act it seems reasonable to assume that in legislation dealing with highway safety that “where practicable” would include where safe and that a right to take the lane would therefore exist where that is the only safe option.

Indeed the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Police Service and the Ministry of Transportation clearly agree with that interpretation.

The section of the City of Ottawa website: Cycling and the law states:

Rules of the road

Cyclists are required to ride as close as possible to the right curb of the roadway, except when:

●Travelling at the normal speed of traffic

●Avoiding hazardous conditions

●The roadway is too narrow for a bicycle and a motor vehicle to travel safely side-by-side

●Tiding alongside another cyclist in a manner that does not impede the normal movement of traffic

●Preparing to make a left turn, passing another vehicle, or using a one-way street (in which case riding alongside the left curb is permitted)

The Share The Road section of the Ottawa Police Service website states:

Riding Tips for the Road

1. Ride predictably and defensively.

2. Ride in a straight line at least one metre from the curb or parked cars.

3. You may occupy any part of a lane when your safety warrants it. Never compromise your safety just for the convenience of others.

And the Ontario Ministry of Transportation's Ontario's Guide to Safe Cycling states:

Taking a lane

In urban areas where a curb lane is too narrow to share safely with a motorist, it is legal to take the whole lane by riding in the centre of it. On high-speed roads, it is not safe to take the whole lane. To move left in a lane, should check, signal, left and shoulder check again then move to the centre of the lane when it is safe to do so.

It also states:

Accordingly, cyclists should ride one meter from the curb or close to the right hand edge of the road when there is no curb, unless they are turning left, going faster than other vehicles or if the lane is too narrow to share.

As well it states:

Around parked vehicles

Ride in a straight line at least one metre away from parked vehicles. Keep to this line even if the vehicles are far apart to avoid continuous swerving.

Cycle in a straight line past parked vehicles; do not swerve towards the curb when parked vehicles are far apart

When riding around parked vehicles, cyclists should watch for motorists and passengers who may open their car door into the cyclists' path.

And the Canadian Cycling Association CAN-BIKE Program: safety tips states:

Going…going, gone! When one lane disappears, use the other one

Highway Traffic Acts across Canada tell all vehicle users to occupy any part of a lane when safety warrants it. Bikes are vehicles too. In the event of parked vehicles, construction, snow banks, etc. If the lane is obstructed and there is not enough room to share the lane while passing the obstruction, take the whole lane to prevent vehicles from passing too close.

1. Look well ahead when you ride and pre-plan your position on the road.

2. Shoulder check first to make sure there is room and then signal before taking the lane.

3. Shoulder check again to make sure the drivers behind you respect your intention.

4. Take the centre of the lane and ride in a straight line.

5. Repeat 2 & 3 and return to the right most side of the lane when the obstruction is passed.

So we have established not only the legal right to take the lane but the fact that the authorities recommend it in appropriate situations.

Taking The Lane Safely

That of course does not change the fact that taking the lane can be intimidating, and even hazardous if not done carefully. After all, it is not wise to just pull out in front of bigger heavier vehicles going faster than you.

The first rule, and this applies to all cycling in traffic, is to be constantly aware of the traffic around you. No riding with headphones on or texting while cycling. Your life may depend on how aware you are.

You should also be aware of the road and driving conditions so that you can be prepared to ease into taking the lane safely, as you approach the conditions requiring it, and be able to do so without abruptly pulling in front of other traffic. And, of course only take the lane in urban traffic and not when the other traffic is travelling at highway speeds.

When To Take The Lane

The road conditions when I take the lane include:

● when the bike lane abruptly ends, which I interpret as the traffic engineer's way of telling me that there is not enough room alongside traffic and that I should take the lane,

● when the roadway alongside traffic is too dangerous to ride in due to pot holes or debris in the lane,

● in constructon or detour zones with lanes that are too narrow to ride alongside traffic

● alongside parked cars when simply staying out one metre risks getting forced into the dooring zone by passing motorists,

● and when the lane is simply too narrow to ride safely alongside traffic.

The bottom line on when to take the lane is when you believe that you cannot ride safely alongside traffic and that it is safe to take the lane. As the City of Ottawa states “never compromise your safety for the convenience of a motorist”.


Kanata's Secret Segregated Bike Lane

Yes, Kanata has a secret, or at least unpublicized, segregated bike lane on Huntmar Drive from Maple Grove Road to the Canadian Tire Centre parking lot, even if, for some strange reason, it is only on one side of the road.

This is not like the high profile (and more costly) Laurier Street Segregated Bike Lane (SBL). It is done on the cheap, with only the use of concrete curbs to separate the bike lane from traffic, but it is effective. It achieves the most important goal, which is to prevent cars from parking in the bike lane, as cars parked in bike lanes not only render them ineffective but make them dangerous as jutting in and out of traffic from behind parked cars is not a safe practice.

All that separates most sidewalks from roadways are concrete curbs and they are the safety standard for pedestrians so they can make a safe and cost-effective separator for bike lanes. This should be standard practice for most bike lanes. There may be special cases, such as in the busy downtown core, where more separation may be needed. However, white lines on the road should not be the standard when the use of concrete curbs only requires a small one time expense, probably less than the ongoing cost of repainting white lines.

As to the argument that it will make snow clearance and street cleaning more difficult than the current practice, which seems to be to just plough all the crap into the bike lanes, well we need to change that policy anyway.

We can only hope that this is a quiet pilot project and that we will see more of these (starting with the other side of this section of Huntmar Drive) and that it will indeed become the minimum standard for Ottawa bike lanes. Just don't tell Allan “Roads are for Cars” Hubley about this.

What Are These White Lines All About

While we are talking about bike lanes, what about pseudo bike lanes. These are on what I would call collector streets in our neighbourhood. And yes, they look like bike lines. However they have no signage and are not marked on the cycling map as bike lanes. And the fact that cars are allowed to park on them makes them ineffective and possibly even dangerous if used as bike lanes. Indeed, on these streets I follow the general rule of keeping to the right of the roadway but if a series of cars are parked in these lanes I keep to the middle to avoid jutting in and out from behind parked cars.

Perhaps they are parking lanes, but as you can see they are not wide enough for parking within the lines. If they were in the country it would be obvious, they would be paved shoulders, but in a suburb.

I think they are just “make the cyclists feel good” lanes.

After posting this I received this via Twitter:

Charles A-M ‏@Centretowner
@the5thColumnist @auxonic technically it's not a bike lane but an at-grade asphalt sidewalk. I tweeted pic of this 2y ago.
27 July 2013 20:49


The George Zimmerman Verdict: How Does an Aggressor Successfully Argue Self Defence

After my initial shock at hearing the verdict and my attempt to rationalize it I have further reflected on the verdict.

Perhaps it all comes down to the difference between Canadian and Floridian/American attitudes to vigilantism.

I consider myself to be a reasonable man and my interpretation of self defence does not allow for an aggressor to claim self defence. For example, you cannot start a fight with someone and kill them and then argue that because they fought back you killed them in self defence.

In this case, perhaps because the actual physical altercation was not witnessed, the jury seemed to have difficulty seeing who the aggressor really was. I had no difficulty determining that at all. The aggression started with the vigilante stalking of Trayvon Martin (who was doing nothing wrong) by George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman was clearly the aggressor. George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin. George Zimmerman was guilty of murder.


The George Zimmerman Verdict and The British Justice System

The not guilty verdicts in the George Zimmerman trial for the murder of Travyon Martin may be a result of the British criminal justice system (that is shared by both Canada and the United States) and it's most important principle that it is better that the guilty go free than the innocent be convicted.

One of the earliest expressionless of this principle was Blackstone's formulation: "It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer", further amplified in the United States by Benjamin Franklin: "It is better 100 guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer".

This principle is expressed in practice by the principle that juries must find an accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in criminal prosecutions.

So we have a jury presented with a case involving an altercation with no witnesses and a defendant that apparently has significant injuries and that, along with other factors, may be enough to create reasonable doubt in the jurors minds and thus a not guilty verdict.

None of that changes the fact that Zimmerman, having a vigilante attitude, profiled Martin (whether racially or otherwise) and pursued him even after being advised not to by authorities - a chain of events set in motion by Zimmerman and controlled by him that led to the death of Trayvon Martin who was doing nothing wrong when Zimmerman set these actions into motion.

A reasonable person would conclude that, even if not criminally guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, George Zimmerman was responsible for the death of Trayvon Martin.

One would expect a very different outcome if a wrongful death claim was filed against Zimmerman where the standard of proof would not be beyond a reasonable doubt but a preponderance of the evidence.

Federal prosecution under federal civil rights law may also result in a different outcome.

The U.S. Department of Justice said Sunday it would review the Travyon Martin-George Zimmerman case to determine if it should consider prosecuting Zimmerman, who was acquitted in a Florida court in the shooting death of the unarmed black teenager.

"Experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes within our jurisdiction, and whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the Department's policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial," said a statement released by the department.

As further events unfold we should all heed United States President Obama's call for calm.


City of Ottawa Kanata South (Terry Fox to West Hunt Club Road) Class Environmental Assessment Study – The NCC Role in Protecting the Greenbelt

Submission to The National Capital Commission
Richard W. Woodley
Bridlewood, Kanata, Ontario
June 21, 2013

I am providing this submission to the National Capital Commission (NCC) because I see the NCC as the Guardian of the Greenbelt while I see the City of Ottawa more as the guardian of roads and car drivers.

Information on this proposal and study is available on the City of Ottawa website here:


This proposal is in response to the perceived needs of Bridlewood residents for more roads to take private automobiles downtown during rush hours, the same time as the public transit system is optimized for. It relates more to a desire to use private automobiles with less inconvenience of time delays than a real need to improve transportation links downtown, which could be better done by improving public transit options.

The original proposal to solve this perceived problem was to, essentially, extend Terry Fox Drive to the 416 by extending Hope Side Road, which it connects directly to (essentially the same road with only the name changing), through the Greenbelt to the 416.

Apparently, according to the City, everybody agrees that that would be environmentally inappropriate, although I suspect the City simply realized that the NCC would not approve that so they decided they might as well jump on the environmental bandwagon.

So now we have a “compromise” proposal to widen and realign Old Richmond Road and West Hunt Club Road between Hope Side Road and the 416. While perhaps not as draconian as the original proposal for a new road through the Greenbelt, this new proposal still compromises the integrity of the Greenbelt by widening the road corridor through it and purposely increasing traffic through it and thus increasing the risk to wildlife and degrading their habitat.

And the reason it is proposed to do this is to reduce the inconvenience to Bridlewood car drivers during rush hour, the majority of whom could very effectively use the public transit system that is optimized for that time period. A much more effective solution would be to improve the public transit service to deal with any projected needs for more transportation capacity to downtown.

But this is really not about need but the desire of people to use private automobiles, many of them with only the driver in them, during rush hour.

I would urge the NCC to not rubber stamp this proposal from the City but to take their responsibility as Guardians of the Greenbelt and protectors of the wildlife and habitat within it very seriously before approving a proposal based on desire rather than need.

The NCC should also only consider the option that has the least impact on wildlife and it's habitat, the three lane, rather than four lane, proposal.

And finally I wish to draw to the attention of the NCC, although I am certain it is already aware of this, that along this route proposed for widening there are two NCC parking lots, P6 and P11 with trail systems on both sides where crossing from one side to the other is already very difficult and dangerous. If any widening of these roads is allowed the NCC must insist that it include a solution that provides safe passage between the trail systems on both sides of the roads at the locations of those parking lots.

Respectfully submitted

Richard W. Woodley

This submission is also being sent to:

Angela Taylor, P Eng. Senior Project Engineer Transportation Planning Branch Planning & Growth Management Department City of Ottawa Angela.Taylor@ottawa.ca

Valerie McGirr, P. Eng. Consultant Project Manager AECOM valerie.mcgirr@aecom.com

Ottawa City Councillor Allan Hubley Ward 23 Kanata South Allan.Hubley@ottawa.ca

This submission is also being published on my blog The Fifth Column


Prince of Wales Bridge: Why Isn't This a Bikeway

(click on image to enlarge)

As early as 2005, after the rail line was discontinued and the City of Ottawa purchased the bridge for possible future public transit use the NCC proposed using the bridge as a pedestrian and cycling bridge (Wikipedia: The Ottawa Citizen. (15 November 2005), NCC plans to link Ottawa, Gatineau with new recreation paths).

Since then the bridge has sat idle, although I assume, since the city purchased it for future public transit use, it's structural integrity has been maintained.

Such a shame. All those wasted years when the cost to use it as a Bikeway, even if temporary, would be minimal and if action had been taken in 2005 we'd be getting to close to ten years of use now. But it is never too late to do the right thing.

(click on image to enlarge)

All that would be needed is for a wooden boardwalk with railings to be built over the steel rails and approaches connected from the recreational pathways that are already on both sides of the Ottawa River. The timing is ideal with the newly built O-Train Multi-User Path (MUP) following the rest of the rail line on the Ottawa side all the way to the recreational pathway along the Rideau Canal. This would make an ideal link in the region's pathway system. The minimal cost would justify the expense, even if temporary, and it could be another ten years, if ever, before the bridge is used for public transit.

It is time for our elected, and unelected, officials to find ways through the bureaucratic roadblocks and make this happen for the citizens of Ottawa and Gatineau.

(click on image to enlarge)
Photo Source


Why I Believe Rob Ford

I believe Rob Ford was telling the truth because of what he did not say.

He did not say:

I have never used crack cocaine.
And he did not say:
There is no video of me appearing to use crack cocaine because I have never been in a situation where I appeared to be using crack cocaine.
So, because of what he did not say, I believe that Rob Ford was telling the truth, very carefully.


The Rob Ford Scenarios

So what are the possible explanations for the infamous Rob Ford video. Rob Ford says it is just ridiculous, but beyond that he offers no explanation. So we are left to our own speculation. But there must be some explanation for the fact that the journalists that saw it thought that it was indeed Rob Ford, so let us look at the possible scenarios.

The Ford Nation Conspiracy Theory Scenario

Its all a conspiracy by Somali drug lords, American media, The Toronto Star, the NDP, CUPE and the Toronto Cyclists Union to discredit the man they hate the most.

The Sophisticated Video Editing Scenario

A group of low level drug dealers produced a sophisticated fake video appearing to be Rob Ford smoking crack.

The Stumbled Upon a Rob Ford Look-alike Scenario

A group of Toronto druggies just happened to know someone who looked like Rob Ford and thought it would be fun to make a spoof video and one of them had the idea to try to sell it to the media for big bucks.

The Fooling Around With His Football Team Scenario

Rob Ford was at a party with some of his beloved minority football players and thought it would be cool to pretend to be smoking crack cocaine and somebody made a video.

The It Is What It Appears To Be Scenario

Just that. That it is what it appears to be.


Mayor Jimmy Really Doesn’t Get It

The following twitter exchange exemplifies Mayor Jimmy's petty reaction to criticism.

I suppose I should be thankful I have not been blocked yet, like so many of the mayor's critics.

Jim Watson ‏@JimWatsonOttawa
Pleased to join @Eli_Ward5 and @AllanHubley_23 and Cyril Leeder at Tanger Outlet ground breaking in Kanata

Richard W. Woodley ‏@the5thColumnist
@JimWatsonOttawa @AllanHubley_23 @Eli_Ward5
paving farmland and clearcutting forests sure makes our mayor happy and proud #developersrule

Jim Watson ‏@JimWatsonOttawa
@the5thColumnist and where do you live? Oh yes, a former farmers field.

What can I take from this but the suggestion that somehow anyone who lives on what used to be farmland or wilderness has no right to oppose the inappropriate development of farmland or environmentally sensitive lands. That is a pretty neat trick to basically take away the rights of anyone who lives in a city, in this case the city of Ottawa, to oppose the development of farmland or environmental lands. After all, most cities, including Ottawa, started as rural agricultural areas and before that was wilderness.

But no, because we might live on what was once farmland or wilderness does not take away our rights to be concerned about and oppose inappropriate development.

Mayor Jimmy may want to label us as crazy environmentalists who should all live in cabins in the bush but we are not against cities and development but rather understand that boundaries need to be set, and rules need to be followed, to allow for appropriate development, and appropriate development is not defined as whatever developers want.

Does Mayor Jimmy really expect home buyers to determine what lands are developed by their purchasing choices made after the fact. Does he really think that would work. That people will not buy houses that are already built because they think they should not have been built there, knowing their decisions will not bring the farmland or wilderness back. Does he really think he can transfer the responsibility for proper decision making by the authorities who actually have power to the virtually powerless consumers of these mega corporations' housing developments.

It is the responsibility of the political authorities at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to set limits and establish priorities to protect agricultural land environmental lands. And as more land becomes developed and agricultural and environmental lands become scarcer it becomes more important to protect them. We need to strengthen, not weaken these protections. We need to be more vigilant, not less vigilant, in enforcing the rules.

Politicians, like Mayor Jimmy, need to take these responsibilities seriously and not dismiss criticism in a petty way simply because it is expressed by people who actually live in the City of Ottawa, the people they are supposed to represent.



Well it's been awhile, Even though I have had blog post ideas going through my bead I just have not felt like sitting down and writing lately. The Fifth Column will resume even if I am not certain exactly when.


If a Tree Falls in the Forest is it not Canadian if it Originated in Norway

I remember way back when when I was in school, not back in the days of the one room schoolhouse but back in the days of the eight classroom schoolhouse with one class for each grade when everyone walked to school, learning about maple trees and maple leaves. We learned about the Norway Maple, and that it's name came from it's origins in Norway but I do not recall learning that it was an evil illegal alien that should not be identified with anything Canadian such as our currency.


Rogers and Me Part 2: When You Have A Monopoly I Guess You Don't Have to Tell Your Customers What They Are Paying For

After my original attempts to get Rogers to answer my questions via e-mail failed I posted my questions to Google Drive (originally Google Docs) and tweeted the location to them and finally got answers via Twitter, 140 characters at a time.

That brought me to the next stage of the decision making process, which was deciding between the Digital Plus and VIP packages. So that should be easy - go to the Rogers website and see just what the differences between the two packages are. Not so easy I discovered. I expected to find a listing and description of the Basic package, and then what Digital Plus adds, and then what VIP adds. But it does not work that way. They only list the full complement of channels for each package and you have to go through them yourself to determine just what additional channels you get with the each package and then you only have a list of names. So then I went looking on the Rogers web site to find descriptions of the channels they wanted me to pay to subscribe to, without success so, I tweeted @RogersHelps again, resulting in this exchange.

Richard W. Woodley ‏@the5thColumnist @RogersHelps is there a place on your website where I can find a DESCRIPTION of all the channels in the VIP package, not just list of names

Nicolas @ Rogers ‏@RogersNicolas @the5thColumnist Hi Richard, I'm afraid we don't have a description of each channel individually.

Richard W. Woodley ‏@the5thColumnist @RogersNicolas rather astounding that you can't provide customers with a description of what you're trying to sell to them @RogersHelps

So I did my own research and made my own list which I posted to Google Drive here and I am still considering my options. But it is rather astounding that they expect people to buy a package without knowing it's contents, and more so that they can get away with it. The power of a monopoly.


The Teachers Dilemma

Nobody wants to give in to a bully. Indeed teachers teach students not to give in to bullies and teachers are expected to be role models and teach by example.

So the teachers, when the bully took away their collective bargaining rights with draconian legislation that took away their right to strike, used the only legal avenue they had to fight back against the bully and refused voluntary activities.

They knew the government had pushed them into a corner so that their only legal way of fighting back would impact students and keep them from doing things they loved to do. I am sure they were looking individually and collectively for a way to bring things back to normal for their students while still taking a stand against the bully government.

When they found another way to make a last stand against the government with minimal impact on students, Dalton McGuinty said no that is illegal, the only protests we will allow you to undertake are ones that harm your students.

So what next.


Teachers Political Protest Not a Strike and Not Illegal

First of all it is not a strike because it is not part of the collective bargaining process because with a government imposed contract, imposed under a draconian law whose constitutionality is under challenge, there is no collective bargaining process. Secondly the political protest is aimed at the government as policy maker and legislator, not as employer.

It is not illegal because political protests are not illegal in Canada, even if Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty wish they were.

Not that the teachers are completely free of consequences. For one they will not be paid for the day, and secondly their contract provisions may provide for discipline for absences not approved by the employer. But any such action will be subject to the grievance and appeal provisions of their contracts. That being said the usual discipline by employers for such absences is suspension from work without pay. So theoretically the school boards could force the teachers to take time off work without pay as punishment for taking time off work without pay. Sort of like suspending students for truancy.

The biggest irony, or perhaps more appropriately described as hypocrisy, is that Dalton McGuinty has his knickers in a knot over teachers taking a day off without pay to protest a process that has imposed a contract on them that requires them to take days off without pay.