My car has three wheels...and I'm the engine
When I bought my trike last fall, my plan was that it would not only be great for riding recreationally – for fun and fitness – but that it could serve as a daily mode of transportation – it could be my “car." And, with another way to get around, maybe I wouldn’t have to spend quite so much time waiting for buses. While there are situations where riding my trike is impractical – I can’t, for instance, ride it when I am going places with the boys, as neither of them are comfortable on a bike at this point – I have used it for much of my getting around this spring and summer, so much so that I have taken to buying bus tickets instead of a monthly pass.
Yesterday I ran some errands on my trike. First, there was a short trip to meet the boys and their mom at the doctor for their annual checkups. That was a quick 4.3 kilometre ride, mostly down Lodge Avenue, which is a fairly quiet residential street (although, like many Winnipeg streets, littered with cracked concrete and potholes). As with many, if not all, non-recreational rides in Winnipeg, the last part of the ride entailed an improvised sidewalk journey to a traffic light in order to safely cross a major street, in this case eight lanes of Portage Avenue.
After the appointment I wanted to make a trip to Staples to pick up a few “odds and ends." After weighing my options, which included triking to the Polo Park area (with lots of construction and roads pushed way beyond their capacity), the Staples downtown at Portage Place (which is not a bad ride, when one follows the paths and low-traffic roads between Portage Avenue and the Assiniboine River), and Unicity (straight west on Portage from the doctor’s), I decided to head to Unicity. The ride out Portage Avenue was quite pleasant – despite it being one of the main streets in the city it is, as I mentioned above, quite wide, and there wasn’t much traffic at quarter to eleven in the morning.
Unicity was once an actual mall, but is now nothing more than a collection of big-box stores. When I arrived I quickly realized that nobody expected anyone to cycle here. As I rode between rows of park cars and up and down the storefronts, it became clear that not only were there no actual bike racks, but there was virtually nothing at all to which I could properly secure my trike. Eventually, as I had done on previous trips to the Home Depot, I locked my trike to one of the shopping cart corrals scattered throughout the parking lot.
After a quick visit to Staples, I loaded up my trike and got ready to head home. Between panniers and stuff strapped to the top of the rack, you can pack a surprising amount of stuff onto the trike. ICE even has a special set of bags that hang off the seat that would provide even more capacity than panniers alone. And then there are trailers! How I would love to have a trailer but, alas, I have no idea where I could put it; the closet in my apartment is already full of trike.
For the ride home I thought I would try the Yellow Ribbon Greenway/Trail, which runs from near where Sturgeon Creek meets Saskatchewan Avenue all the way east, south of the airport, nearly to Polo Park. Much of this trail is a paved path, completely separated from the road…
…but in the tradition of Winnipeg cycling infrastructure there is the occasional diagonal road crossing thrown in, just to keep you on your toes (and no, one doesn’t actually ride diagonally through the intersection, of course).
In the end, the ride home was about nine kilometres and, at my leisurely pace, took me just less than half an hour. While those of you who drive to run your errands may scoff at spending half an hour getting home from an errand only nine kilometres away, those of us who take the bus, and regularly wait ten, fifteen or more minutes just to catch the bus (not to mention the fifteen or twenty minutes on the bus, often standing or bumping elbows with the person sitting next to you) are pretty accustomed to it. Personally, I prefer actually going somewhere to standing around waiting, even if the journey takes a little longer.
So that’s one of my experiences “getting things done" on my trike. I’m certainly not a hardened cycle-commuter at this point; I still have a lot to learn and discover. But I would be interested to hear from others who do a lot of their errands by cycle, particularly in Winnipeg, but also other cities.