Cycling Canada’s National Capital with “Polly” pakIT

Ottawa Ontario is Canada’s National Capital .  It is located in the east of southern Ontario, near the city of Montréal and the U.S. border.  Sitting on the Ottawa River, it has at its centre Parliament Hill, with grand Victorian architecture and museums such as the National Gallery of Canada, with noted collections of indigenous and other Canadian art. The park-lined Rideau Canal is filled with boats in summer and ice-skaters in winter. It is easily accessed by automobile, train, Airplane, bus or pakIT :-).IMG_20170616_1356495

In June 2017, I attended a conference hosted by the Governor General of Canada (His Excellency David Johnston).  The Conference was for Alumni of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference.  If you do not know about this Conference be sure to check it out at www.leadershipcanada.ca.

This was my first opportunity to fly with my Bike Friday pakIT (AKA Polly). This was the perfect journey to see if Polly was everything I hoped she would be and, quite honestly, one of the major reasons that I purchased a pakIT.  I custom built Polly to be as light as possible while still meeting my performance expectations.  I chose not to put a pannier rack of any sort also to reduce weight.  So here is how it went…

  1. Packing my pakIT: You know how they say, “The first time is always the hardest”? Well it is true. I watched the Ron Paulk packing video what seemed like a million times but I still spent the better part of 3 hours figuring out how to pack Polly, my helmet, clothing and the necessities for 3 days in Ottawa.  Remember, I was attending a Leadership conference, Lycra bike shorts were not on the suitable attire list.  As well, rain was in the forecast so that gear had to come too.  Some things I was glad I did:IMG_20170614_2246374
    1. Bought the pakIT packing kit. The heavy felt and protective tubes for the front forks and for the bike to prevent crushing were all well work the money
    2. Bought a Filzer Mini Roadie floor pump with a built in pressure gauge. Airlines require the tire pressure to be substantively lowered prior to travel.
    3. Placed all my clothes in Large and x-Large heavy-duty Ziploc bags. My pakIT has a rear de-railer and a chain. The potential for grease to get on clothing is high.
    4. Roll clothes into the Ziploc bags and squeeze to remove all of the air. This makes for very small items that can be placed in and around the bike parts
    5. Brought my Timbuk2 Messenger bag. This was the better than a backpack because it minimized coverage on my back and reduced sweating.
    6. Stable but beautiful footwear. I wanted something that was good for walking, looked awesome with a dress and was flat on the pedals.  All my shoes are Fluevogs, so the hardest decision was to bring only one pair 🙂 The Black, white and peach Mini Qtee was the chosen shoe. MINI_qtee-lo
    7. Rain shoes that I can wear with a dress. This is a bit of a tall order, but I have found that Crocs deliver on this front. They are lightweight and can look good, not fancy, but good with a dress.11215_48J_ALT140
  2. Polly meets Air Canada: Prior to leaving home, I weighed the luggage to confirm that I was below the applicable weight limit. I also checked in on-line and pre-paid for my check-in luggage so that upon arrival all I had to do was print the bag tag and head for the Gate.  Some things I was glad I did:
    1. I did not lock my luggage. What is the point? The Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) has a key anyway. This is a clear indication of nothing to “hide”.
    2. I did not declare during the check-in process that my bag contained a bike, because the bag was not oversized, not overweight, and I was not requesting any preferential handling. I suspect this saved me $50-$200 in “up-charges”.
  3. Check-in Experience: At the Airport my bag was weighed. It was likely because of the size of the Samsonite Flite case.
  4. Airport Security: CATSA did open my bag during travel in both directions. This occurred after I checked the luggage and prior to receiving it at the other end (i.e. the inspection was not done in front of me).  I can imagine what a folded and partially dismantled Polly looks like in an X-ray machine so if I were a CATSA agent I would inspect it too. They are just doing their job and I am thankful for the job they do.  They left a note in the bag to inform me of the inspection and that nothing was removed.
  5. Destination Pre-Planning: Some things I was glad I did:
    1. I reviewed the cycling infrastructure on-line prior to travelling so I knew where the bicycle network was relative to my hotel, conference location(s), dining locations, and tourist destination locations.
    2. I know Ottawa very well, so I had advanced knowledge of the City prior to doing my research.
    3. I chose a hotel in the heart of the cycling network and within a comfortable distance to all of my preferred destinations. I really like the hotel too, it is a boutique hotel called the Metcalf located just a few blocks from the Parliament of Canada and a beautiful bike ride away from the By-ward Market, a very popular restaurant district.
    4. I knew that I wanted to unpack Polly in my hotel room so I called ahead and made arrangements for an early check in.
  6. Unpacking: I arrived at the Metcalf Hotel by taxi before 9am and was checked in early as requested. It took me less than 20 minutes to unpack, rebuild, pump the tires and head out on Laurier Avenue on route to the Opening of the Conference at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec.
  7. Managing Polly at my destinations: Security for a conference that involves the attendance of the Governor General of Canada is high, but welcoming. I folded Polly in front of security, picked her up, indicated that no bicycle lock would ever be able to protect the bike and walked in.  I have found security staff to be “the best”.  I asked if they recommended a location to place Polly and explained she could not be locked up because of the nature of the bike, and in every instance, they recommended behind the security desk or within plain sight of it.IMG_20170615_1941269

In the evenings, I enjoyed the foodie nightlife of Ottawa with friends.  I brought the folded Polly into the Restaurants and aside from a few interested looks, it all worked out.

The overall experience of travelling with Polly was so good that I kept thinking something has “got-to-give”, but nothing did.

As a proud Canadian, I cannot pen a blog without crowing about the incredible City of Ottawa.  If you have ever considered travelling to Ottawa this is the year to do it.  2017 marks Canada’s 150 Anniversary as a Country and the Capital is decked out to receive visitors from across Canada and the world.  I worked in Ottawa for a bit and came to love the City in every season.

The City has made significant investments in cycling infrastructure.  It is a “Gold” Bicycle Friendly Community as designated by the Share-the-Road Coalition and the League of American Bicyclists.  There are hundreds of kilometers of off-road, paved bicycle trails.  These trails follow the banks of the Ottawa River and the Rideau Canal.  Most of these trails are cleared in winter months and available if you would like to explore a Canadian Winter by Bike.

In addition to the museums, the Parliament and other Government buildings, there are many destinations to cycle to in Ottawa including “burbs” known as Old Town, Westboro, Little Italy, the Glebe, and Chinatown. Cyclists can also cross into Quebec from Ottawa and connect to the “route verte” where they can travel across the beautiful province of Quebec on a combination of on and off-road trails.

If Ottawa is a destination of choice, pack you pakIT and plan to stay for a while, it is so beautiful I promise, you will not want to leave!

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“Polly” pakiT!

It is hard to believe, that a month has passed since my custom made, pakiT arrive.  Yep I picked Pink and White, because I could and because I love how vibrant the colour is.  I have never “named” one of my bikes before, but I really can’t help myself with this one…she is “Polly” pakiT 🙂

Over this past month I have put Polly to the test including flying her to Ottawa on Air Canada.  The performance of this bike is both amazing and unexpected.  I really knew very little about folding bikes but in just one month of riding I have learned a ton!

  1. Dresses work: because of the low frame the bike is perfect for cycle commuting in a dress
  2. Travel Time: Was essentially the same as riding my hybrid
  3. Performance: the bike provides a very solid, steady and comfortable ride.  One Facebook friend asked if it was “wobbly” as it looked like it would be.  The answer was a very clear no.   It does not feel wobbly at all.
  4. The fold: My work colleagues could not help but comment on how small the bike was folded. They are accustomed to seeing my other bikes and were very surprised at the small footprint of the pakiT
  5. Air Travel: that is a story for another Blog.  Suffice to say it worked, it worked better than I could have hoped and I was so happy to have my pakiT with me during a conference in Ottawa, Ontario Canada.
  6. Travel commuting with non-cyclists: The pakiT is the bike of choice when I know I am meeting people and then traveling together by car.  No special bike rack is needed, the pakiT folds and fits in the trunk.

deepfoldPakit

The bike was made, just for me, by “the Green Bike” company in Eugene Oregon.  They are marketed under the brand of Bike Friday.

PakitTag

I would like to expand a bit on the travel time.  The following is from the Bike Friday website and describes the travel distance very well as “Better Gearing”.  The website goes on to say “Small wheels don’t equate to slower speeds, or having to pedal more. What gives you speed when you pedal is the distance that the wheel travels for every full revolution of the pedals, this is called gear inches. It’s understandable to assume that a smaller wheel would have fewer gear inches than a conventional bike, because with the exact same gearing it does. But folding bikes compensate for this by using higher gear ratios. Take for instance a folding road bike like the Pocket Rocket, which uses a 53 tooth chain wheel and 9 tooth cassette cog to achieve 116 gear inches. That’s nearly 10 feet of travel for every full rotation of the pedals, which is just as good, if not better, than any standard full-sized road bike.”

The Bike Friday website also addresses the “wobbly” question as follows “Another feature that makes small wheeled bicycles great for touring or transporting kids is the low center of gravity, which is the balance point of the bicycle. With small wheels, the balance point is naturally lower to the ground, and the lower it is to the ground the more stable it is.”

It was one thing to read the above on the website and quite another to test drive it personally.  I was expecting wobbly, I was expecting that my ride would be slow, I was expecting that this bike would be my travel bike and in between trips be used less…I was wrong on all accounts.  Polly pakiT is so pretty; she is hard to leave behind for any reason!

Pakit

Living a Cycling Life

Along with my good friend Barbara, my husband Peter and I recently travelled to Budapest where we boarded a Viking River Cruise (vikingrivercruisescanada.com).  We sailed up the Danube River stopping in: Bratislava, Slovakia; Vienna, Durnstein, Melk and Linz Austria then ending in Passau, Germany.  Barbara and I are avid cyclists and frequently wanted to rent bicycles during the trip.  We know that touring a city by foot and by bike offer very different viewpoints and a bike can, of course, allow you to travel further, faster.  We spent a day in each destination.  The only location we were able to find a bike rental shop that was near to the harbour was in Passau.  During the trip we tossed about the idea of bringing bikes with us.  My astute husband took note of the conversation and asked me last week if my next bike might be a folding one?  There is a great saying in the world of bikes that the number of bikes you need = n (number of bikes you own) + 1. I said that I was actually thinking about folding bikes after our trip.  He said that he and my two boys have decided that for Mother’s Day 2017 they want to buy me a folding bike for me to take on vacation, in particular ones that involve air travel.  With Barbara’s help, Peter did the heavy lifting with regard to finding the folding bike company he thought I should buy this bike from which is Bike Friday (www.bikefriday.com).

BFFolding

I reviewed the website and of course, immediately fell in love with these bikes.  I was excited about the idea of building my own bike.  I used their on-line design tool and was somewhat scared off by the on-line build price.  They have a “pre-loved” section to their site and those prices looked more approachable so I picked up the phone and called them.  Phoning them was THE RIGHT THING TO DO.  I recommend if you are considering a Bike Friday to just pick up the phone and call them.  Walter, their Sales Consultant & IT Assistant, was the best!  He asked what my budget was and custom built me a pakit.  I was able to discuss and choose all of the components I wanted along with my frame paint colour and decal/wire colours.  They also took all of the measurements related to the most favorite ride I currently own along with my height, weight and age (not sure how age plays into the equation).  I really loved the buying experience with Walter and felt he was keen to ensure I received the bike I wanted at the price I could afford.  I  decided this was going to be the best “girl” bike ever and it will be pink and white!

BikeFriday

Because they custom make every bike I now must wait.  Their turnaround time is 5-8 weeks depending on the availability of parts.  My pakit is scheduled to arrive June 9th.

One Year Later – YES, YES & YES

Did I continue to cycle commute for the balance of 2016? – YES
Did I manage to keep exercise built into my daily routine? – YES
Did I return to a healthy body weight? – YES

My last Blog post was in April 2016.  This time also aligned with the move from winter cycling to summer cycling.  I thought it was more than overdue to provide an update.

As evident in the above before and after photos, I have lost close to 50 pounds over the past year.  I returned to a healthy body weight in October 2016.  Cycling was a large component of that transition the other was properly tracking my calorie intake and ensuring that I was getting enough to eat and making healthy food choices.  I follow the Weight watchers plan, because I need the structure that a program like that offers.

CONCUSSION

The year was not without setbacks, in the late summer, the front wheel of my hybrid bicycle slid off a trail edge near a gated entrance. I, of course, fell bringing the bike with me.  I cracked my bike helmet in this adventure and I received a concussion.  At the time, my stubbornness reared its ugly head and I addressed my concussion symptoms for about 3 weeks, after which I deemed myself good-to-go.  I know…I know…where did I get my medical degree from? and yes Dr. Google should not be relied upon.

Honestly I felt great until about November at which time my concussion symptoms seemed to really flare up.  I don’t know why it happened in November, but I have been receiving treatment for the concussion symptoms.  They did curtail my cycling for November and December, but I am cleared to cycle now.

PROUD MOMENTS

Cycling all of 2016 was, in itself a big achievement for me and one that I am thankful I took on.  In September I decided to stretch my comfort level and support Waterloo Regional Police Sgt. Pete Viol in his fundraising efforts for the Grand River Hospital cancer Centre. This saw me and my friend Barbara cycling for 5-days straight on and off 60-70 km/day each from Riviere-du-loup to Chambly Quebec.  This was an amazing adventure.  Much of the time was spent on the off-road Route Verte (http://www.routeverte.com/e/) in the beautiful Province of Quebec.  Training for this ride then undertaking it created wonderful memories.

DOUBTS

As January 2017 approached I doubted my ability to winter commute.  I suspect my concern was founded in the fact I was off the bike as a part of the concussion recovery.  This blog, was a game changer for me.  I  re-read my entries from 2016, I considered the weather I already proved I could ride through and I reminded myself I can do it I just need to gear up and make it happen!

So I am back into a routine of winter cycling, my “Batpod” Norco Fat bike continues to be a stable ride that increases my comfort level on snow and ice.  The daily exercise helps clear my mind, ready me for work and build my physical fitness levels.

I am not alone and routinely see other winter cyclists on the road.  The key to winter cycling, in addition to having a ride you feel stable on is LIGHTS, REFLECTORS and more LIGHTS.  It more important than ever to see and be seen in the winter so I ride with highly reflective gear and a flashing rear tail light day and night.

 

Still Cycling….And Lovin’ it!

April 11, 2016

Weather: Mainly cloudy. 30 percent chance of showers early this afternoon. Fog patches dissipating early this afternoon. Wind becoming southwest 30 km/h gusting to 50 early this afternoon. High 12. UV index 4 or moderate.

Attire: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) rain resistant, breathable knee length jacket, winter motorcycle gloves with high gauntlets, waterproof rain pants pulled over my skirt, short boot.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: long-sleeve dress, tights and a wool scarf.

The winter bike was back on the road today for my commute to work.  It feels like “old man winter” just does not want to release his grip on Southwestern Ontario.  Last night we had a mix of snow, freezing rain and rain.  The morning roads, in particular the bike lanes, still contained some of the snow and ice from last night. The Norco Big Foot was the ride of choice for the day.  It was as easy ride to work.  Hopefully the forecasted high winds will have passed us by before I head home.

Although I have not updated my blog for a few weeks, I can assure you that I have remained on a bike 3 to 4 times per week.  With the return of sketchy weather and crazy schedules requiring me to be more agile to get to meetings i.e. needing a car….I have turned to training indoors.

Trainer

Indoor Training Setup

I love my cycleops trainer set up and to motivate me I watch YouTube training videos created by the Global Cycling Network (GCN) www.globalcyclingnetwork.com .  They have large number of videos to choose from based on your set up and available time.  I have used the 20 min. spin class, the 20 min. fat burner, the outdoor training video and more.  If I chose a 20 min. workout then, depending on my time, I can do more both before and after the workout.  The great thing about spinning is that you can choose how hard you want to push yourself.  If I am at the top of my game, then I push myself.  If I am dead beat tired, but need the exercise to clear my mind, then I can let up a bit.

To watch the videos I mount my ipad on my handle bars using a set up designed to hold an ipad to a microphone stand.  I often train in the morning before my family is awake, so to listen to the video I use cordless bluetooth in ear headphones.  I did not want to spend a fortune on headphones so I purchased the rechargeable ones I own on clearance at Winners.

I really want to get my road bike off the trainer and on the road, but with the weather so up and down I have been in a quandary when to change out my rear tire from a training tire back to my road tire.

The long range forecast is looking up so hopefully, the next update will say that I have put down some 20-40 or more km road rides….thanks for reading!

Ride Don’t Hide!

Week 11 – March 15, 2016

Weather: Showers ending early this morning then mainly cloudy. Fog patches dissipating this morning. High 12°C. UV index 3 or moderate.

Attire: Rode indoors today on a trainer.

My ride today was actually a 30 minute spin class at Come Alive Fitness located in Waterloo, Ontario.  The ride represented the ‘kick-off’ for a road ride on June 26, 2016 called Ride Don’t Hide.  The event is in support of the Canadian Mental Health Association.  The fully supported 8 km or 47 km ride will take place on paved picturesque Waterloo Region roadways.

As many of you know, in 2013 I completed a 127 km Grand Fondo road ride in Niagara Region.  Just two weeks after that ride I was hit from behind by a car while cycling.  The driver was charged with failing to share the road with a bike.  My recovery from that preventable collision was long and sometimes arduous.

In 2014, just when I thought I was getting back on track, the ceiling in our living room collapsed in our home as a result of water entering the roof space through a damage chimney that we were not aware of.  This resulted in $140,000 of unplanned, un-budgeted renovations; not covered by insurance.  The stress of 2014 continued with our dog suffering a life threatening illness, 5 family weddings, 3 bridal showers (that I hosted), a torn meniscus in my left knee, a working trip to Spain and a contested municipal election.

I ate through much of my stress, gaining an unsightly amount of weight and then….I became breathless….all the time….I couldn’t concentrate at work…..  I didn’t know what was happening to me.  I thought I was getting asthma or that my allergies were out of control.   A visit to my doctor confirmed I was suffering from anxiety attacks brought on from stress.

Anxiety is a form of depression.  I think of it as a form of depression where instead of being depressed about what happened in the past I was anxious about what might happen in the future.

Exercise is a critical component to fighting mental health disorders and combined with medication I am really back on track.  I am losing weight gradually and continuing to try to cycle daily.

It is for these reasons that I will “Ride not Hide” in support of Canadian Mental Health on Sunday June 26, 2016.  Will you join me?

I’m Cycling in the Rain,  just Cycling in the Rain…

Week 11 – March 14, 2016

Weather: Periods of drizzle. Fog patches dissipating this afternoon. Wind becoming southeast 20 km/h gusting to 40 this afternoon. High 10°C.

Attire: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) rain resistant, breathable knee length jacket, cycling gloves, 180s ear muffs, waterproof rain pants pulled over my skirt, and Shimano SPD cycling shoes.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: long-sleeve sweat wicking top, skirt, tights.

There is a very fresh feeling that exists when you cycle in the rain.  The rain scrubs the air of pollutants and makes it just feel very clean.  With the proper rain gear, I really only feel the odd rain drop on my face and I arrive dry and ready for work.

Today was the first time I have rode using the clipless side of my pedals since January 4, 2016.  I love my Shimano SPD cycling shoes.  The SPD shoes have recessed cleats that connect into my clipless pedal so when I arrive at my destination it is easy to walk. The other type of clipless shoe is very difficult to walk in, some refer to is as a “duck walk”.  This system allows for a substantial increased use of the legs because you are now pulling up on the pedals as well as pushing down.  They take a bit to get used to because when you are connected to you pedals (known as “clipped in”) you have to remember to disconnect (known as “clip out”) when you stop.  When you are first learning how to use this system it is easy to forget and you simply fall over and take your bike with you.  How do I know?….done it (embarrassed to say more than once and in a dress).  My Norco A1 Forma road bike and my Trek Cacao commuter are both equipped with duel pedals so I can either ride with a regular shoe or with my SPD Shimano’s.  My Norco Big Foot, winter bike will only ever have regular pedals because I want to ensure my feet are free to move in the event of a slip or slide.  I met a fellow winter cyclist last month who was riding “clipped in” and he had just taken a bad fall on black ice.  If he had had his feet free perhaps the fall may have been less painful and maybe even avoidable.

“Build It and They will Come”, movie quote – Field of Dreams 1989

Week 10 – March 8, 2016

Weather: A mix of sun and cloud. Wind becoming southwest 20 km/h this afternoon. High 13.  UV index 4 or moderate.  Mainly cloudy. Wind southwest 20 km/h. Low 8

Attire: Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) rain resistant, breathable knee length jacket, cycling gloves, 180s ear muffs.

Variable Attire based on the temperature: sleeveless dress

Over the past few weeks I have spent time in meetings related to creating bicycle friendly communities.  On Monday February 25, I was privileged to speak at the Ontario Good Roads Association (OGRA) Conference in Toronto.  I was a part of a panel of speakers talking about building bicycle friendly communities.  Jamie Stuckless the CEO of the Share the Road cycling coalition (@STRCanada) spoke first.  The Share the Road Cycling Coalition is a provincial cycling advocacy organization working to build a bicycle-friendly Ontario. We work in partnership with municipal, provincial and federal governments, the business community, road safety organizations and other non-profits to:

  • Enhance access for bicyclists on roads and trails
  • Improve safety for all bicyclists
  • Educate citizens on the value and importance of safe bicycling for healthy lifestyles and healthy communities.

Jamie spoke about surveys that undertaken on behalf of their organization that identify without a doubt that the majority of Ontarians support government investment in cycling and other active transportation corridors.

The second speaker was Shawn Everitt who is the Director of Recreation for the Town of Blue Mountains.  Shawn spoke about the investments that the Town has made related to cycling and cycling tourism and was able to demonstrate that the investments have paid off dramatically. Town of Blue Mountains is a destination for cyclists and host the annual Centurion Cycling Race sponsored by Subaru.

I was the third speaker and my comments were focused on building an Accessible Community.  My opening remark is formed in a question related to “who am I”.  The following is an image of my slide.  Many people define me as many things such as a cyclist, a mother, a wife, and a sister.  I am all of these things, but I am also a temporarily able bodied person (TAP).  As a member of Council I know that investments in active transportation also ensure that I am investing in an accessible community.

TAB

On Monday February 29 I was invited to join the Ontario Minister of Transportation – Cycling Strategy Working Group.  This meeting was focused on provision of comments to the Ontario Government related to their #CycleON strategy.  At the meeting the government provided an overview of what they have done and what they plan to do related to delivering on a 20 year vision for cycling in the Province of Ontario.  There was resounding support for the plan, and many voices around the table that said Ontario is ready, the citizens are ready, and municipalities are ready.  Continued consultation is not needed….please Minister,  build it and they will come.

fieldofdreamscorn

BIKES BELONG…

While driving with my 85 year old father a while back we got to talking about cycling. Dad commented that there is always that “age old debate” on whether you should cycle on the road or on the sidewalk. I replied that there is no debate and that the Ontario Highway Traffic Act is clear. Bicycles are vehicles and are required to ride on the road. I went on to say that they are also required to ride with traffic or in other words in the same direction as a car.

I find myself wondering when it was that it was ever deemed to be ok to ride a bicycle on a sidewalk such that people think that is where bikes belong. In addition, the majority of all vehicle collisions occur at intersections, therefore riding on a sidewalk does nothing to prevent this conflict. In many cases, cyclists riding on a sidewalk often ride facing traffic resulting in a collision because they did not stop for a pedestrian cross-walk.

People also believe that bikes belong on the right hand side of the road and nowhere else. In times past where the majority of urban roadways were single traffic lanes in each direction, it was easy to ride on the right hand side and nowhere else. However, with urban roads now containing dedicated left turn lanes and dedicated right turn lanes cyclists are required to ride “in traffic”. Some motor vehicle operators chose not to understand that this is where bikes belong. I say chose because that is exactly what it is. They are making a choice to not “share the road”.

We can spend a ton of time arguing about the rights of the road, but to what end? For those who require the language, it is an offense to fail to share the road with a bicycle. More importantly, I believe we need to want to live in community with others. We need to want to share the road.

Lessons Learned from My Cycling Collision

After I was hit by a car while riding my bicycle on September 30, 2013, I found negotiating all of the things I needed to do very challenging.   In addition to managing health and wellness related issues, understanding who to call and when is not easy and can hinder your ability to get better, faster.  I have created this blog to help share what I have learned with others.  It is my sincere hope that you will never need to use this information.

1. Do not get up:  With adrenalin levels running very high, pain caused by a collision may be masked.  I was not rendered unconscious so I got up.  I could have had a fracture in my spine that may have been made much worse by standing up and moving. Assess the safety of your situation, but if you can remain in your “landed” position, do so until medical help arrives.

2. Call the police: Even if you were hit and the driver fled the scene, call the police. Report the collision.  Many cycling collisions do not get reported.  Changes to roadways are informed by collision statistics.  This is important information for Municipalities.

3. Seek medical attention:  Unless you are a trained medical professional do not self-diagnose.  It is very common that pain will set in many hours after a collision.  Your medical injuries often need to be recorded for insurance purposes.

4. Write your statement of the collision:  While every detail of the collision is still fresh in your mind write down the facts as you remember them. I started my statement on my cell phone while waiting in the emergency department at the hospital.  If you cannot physically do the writing try to dictate it to a support person. Include everything you know and what you observed.  This includes information like: Time of the day, how fast you were travelling; how fast you believe the car that hit you was going, weather conditions; road visibility; traffic conditions, make, model and colour of car.  Include a diagram if possible.  I printed off a Google Map of the road and marked each of my lane changes on the diagram. Below is the text of my statement:

Occurrence Number 13-228184
Cst. Z. Gent

At approximately 10:20 am on September 30, 2013 I was travelling west bound on Northfield drive in Waterloo, Ontario by bicycle. I was riding on the right side of the road (in the traditional bike space) and had crossed the level rail crossing. I was travelling at about 20-25 km per hour.

I started the process of moving over to negotiate a left turn at Parkside drive. Traffic was observed to be well behind me. I started checking my left side mirror to check for traffic in back. The way was clear and I signaled with my left arm extended; my intent to change lanes. I checked over my shoulder again, confirmed the way was clear and moved to the right side of centre lane. I again started checking my left side mirror to check for traffic in back. The way was clear and I signaled with my left arm extended; my intent to change lanes into the left turn lane to make a left turn on Parkside drive. I entered the right side of the lane in front of fire station 3. There was no vehicle in the left turn lane when I entered it. About 10 or 20 seconds later just past the rear exit of fire station 3 I heard the sound of car tires skidding on wet asphalt.

Then I was struck from behind by a grey vehicle. I fell very hard on my left side and my head hit the pavement and bounced. I was wearing a bike helmet. Damage to the bike did occur. I observed the left crank shaft to be bent. At the time of preparing this statement the bike has not been assessed by a bike shop mechanic.

In addition to the above I do wonder if the driver might have been distracted through the use of a cell phone or something of that nature. I make this comment because I was the only road user headed westbound. There was absolutely nothing else to see or pay attention to but me. It is my opinion that that this collision was not only avoidable but that any reasonably alert driver would have had no difficulty passing me safely and sharing the road right-of-way.

The observed road and weather conditions were as follows:

  • Overcast
  • Rain had stopped but the road surface was still wet
  • Visibility good to excellent

Attached to this report are three figures identifying bike movements across the corridor.

This statement was prepared by Diane Freeman, P.Eng. and delivered to Waterloo Regional Police on Tuesday October 1, 2013.

6. Call your motor vehicle insurance company: Ontario is a “no-fault” collision insurance Province.  When you are involved in a collision while riding your bike; you can report the collision to your motor vehicle insurance company.  If you have long-term health impacts from the collision your extended health coverage will be provided through this insurance.  Make time for this call as they will require all of the details of the collision including the police occurrence number.

7. Keep a log of your recovery: I don’t “idle” well.  In general I am a get over it and get going kind of person.  Recovery takes time.  Some days are better than others.  Random pain will occur.  Write all relevant information in a log book.  In the book I am keeping I have included information regarding my use of pain medications, medical appointments, loss of work time, pain associated with daily tasks, location of pain, strength of the pain, and type of pain such as shooting/stabbing/dull aches.  This is very useful on many fronts.  You will be able to visually see your progress to wellness.  You can use the information at medical visits so you do not forget anything.  It can also be used to support a 3rd party legal claim if you need to or choose to seek a legal remedy.

8. Repair and/or replace:  Take your bike to a reputable bike shop for repair and a thorough check of all structural bike components including the frame and forks.  If repairs are needed and completed keep all bills associated with the work in a file along with all the collision details.  If you were wearing a helmet (and I hope you all do) and you hit your helmet on anything then replace the helmet.  Keep the bill for the helmet replacement and keep your old helmet.  Many insurance companies request the helmet involved in the collision to be submitted to them with the bill for the new helmet.  They do this to ensure the old helmet is property disposed of an never used again.

9. Request a copy of the collision report:  If you need to seek payment for your broken bicycle and helmet, as I do, you will require the insurance information for the individual that hit you.  This information is included in the police collision report.  I continue to have a challenge with getting this report.  My insurance company has not been able to get it either.  Some things I have done include emailing the officer, phoning the police department and requesting to speak with the officer, leaving telephone messages requesting the officer return my call, attending the police station to see if the collision report may have been left for me to pick up (it has not) and leaving another message for the officer to call me.  I am now, after 3 weeks requesting to speak with the Staff Sargent.  If you still do not get the report, as citizens you ultimately fund police services so send an email to the Chief of Police and make your request to that individual.  With every attempt do not give up and please, please be polite.  The police seek to serve and in many cases are very busy, they are not withholding information and they are not trying to frustrate you.

10. Undertake a claim for damages: With “no fault” insurance I have been advised that I will need to call the insurance company of the person that hit me to make a claim for the repairs to my bike and any cycling gear including my helmet.  Depending on the extent of their coverage; my out-of-pocket costs may or may not be covered.  It may be that the driver never reported the collision if there was no damage to their personal vehicle. I find this process makes me feel like a victim all over again and I understand completely why some people seek personal injury legal assistance to negotiate these murky waters.  Making this claim is on my “to do” list once I get a copy of the collision report.

11. CYCLE ON: For me, cycle commuting is important “me time”.  I need it to clear my head, take in the wonderful fresh air and to strengthen my person through exercise.  The mental battle associated with getting on the bike and more importantly getting on the road is tough.  The longer you wait to do it the easier it will be to find new routines that no longer support active living and active transportation.  Two weeks to the day I got back on the bike.  I have been in conversation with my medical professionals and constantly self-assessing to ensure that cycling is not aggravating my on-going pain. I am not pushing my limits either.  I do not have the strength in my lower back or upper body to ride my road bike, but my upright commuter bike seems to be ok. I am not likely turning the pedals as fast as I did before the collision and I certainly feel tired upon arrival at my destination, but I am so thankful to be riding again.