Ask Ottawans if they cycle in winter and you'll get a blank look. "Way too cold". But ask if they skate on the canal and they'd likely tell you it's their favourite past time (20,000 people on a sunny Sunday winter day on the canal). With the right equipment and the proper attire, most days are great for cycling, providing the roads are clean. Cycling keeps you warm, unlike waiting at a bus stop (we talk from experience).
Here is a primer on winter cycling by Graydon Patterson, on dressing properly, outfitting your bike and other comments on winter cycling.
- dress in layers
- prepare your bike
- cycle carefully
- studded tires vastely improve the experience
- keep your bike clean and your chain oiled
- be visible: have good lights and wear reflective clothing if you share the road a lot.
Also check out our winter cycling map. The map is somewhat crowd sourced and maintained by local cyclists who can add though a Google account. Be aware it is not real time, so do also check through for example Twitter's #ottbike hashtag.