Saturday, May 15, 2010

cycling is an art

On the Sparks Street Mall near Bank a store has this bicyle outside its windows. Clearly it is an advertisement, designed to draw people closer to the windows and shop door. It is nonetheless a welcome addition to the Mall. It also indicates the increased status of cycling in Ottawa and society in general, when bikes are now a suitable element of "art".

Downtown Ottawa is ... dull. I think a good part of that is due to gross over-regulation of everything: patios, signs, setbacks, mandated tinted glass so dark you cannot see into the shops, etc. Therefore the art cycle shown here, and the parked bikes at 240 Sparks shown in the previous post, actually enliven the mall. Imagine that: parked bikes enliven the mall.


  1. You really think the merchants of the central business district are itching to do something bold, if only the City of Ottawa would let them? Personally, I don't think so. They make their money selling stuff to civil servants on lunch break and to tourists the rest of the time. Give them all kinds of freedom, and they wouldn't change a thing.

  2. While it's fair to say that Ottawa's business community can be said to be "comfortable" and more often than not, "timid", I do think that if the city's by-laws had been implemented with more an eye to the entrepreneurial (read: more freedom for business to operate), we would have attracted businesses (and business people) that are interested in trying new and bold things. Unfortunately, with the example of Sparks St., you have two lethargic elephantine administrations sitting on you.

  3. chris: only two admins? NCC, Sparks St BIA, city ... ouch and ou-la-la that would be burdensome.
    radionx: I was a downtown merchant for 21 years, not touristy, not lunch trade ... and believe me the options to do anything are very limited. We changed window posters ... put out a potted tree (repeatedly stolen and or vandalized)... the best reaction we ever got was putting out a wad of what looked like US money in a bundle and watched people scoop it up. Actually, second best was using a remote control radio shack racing car on the sidewalk controlled from inside. Part of this time was the heyday of cycle couriers and we had so much traffic (4-6 outbound items per hour) they all sat on our window sill waiting for the next order -- now that was live art!

  4. Isn't there a cyclists' gear shop in the Market itself these days?