At the beginning of April 1998, the National Capital Commission (NCC),
a Canadian federal agency responsible for the capital region's federal
property including parkways and interprovincial bridges, arbitrarily
imposed a ban on cycling on a 0.6km bridge at the start of a nine month
reconstruction period. The bridge connects the City of Ottawa in the
province of Ontario to the City of Hull in the province of Quebec.
NCC claimed that the narrow 3.25m (11 feet) lanes made it "dangerous
for cyclists", despite the introduction of a temporary speed limit of
An instantly-formed coalition comprised of the Ottawa Bicycle Club,
Citizens for Safe Cycling, and a representative of courier
companies disputed the ban based on cyclists well established right to
travel on public highways, citing an Alberta court case which overturned
a cycling ban on Springbank Road, a highway just outside of Calgary.
In addition to the legal argument, the coalition ridiculed NCC's "danger
to cyclists" claim, explaining that cyclists, by riding vehicular-style
in the centre of the lanes, were in no danger unless motorists were prepared
to deliberately run over cyclists from behind.
It was soon apparent that
federal officials were mainly concerned, not so much with danger to cyclists,
but rather delay to motorists - although in peak hours even that would not
occur since traffic backs up the full length of the bridge anyway.
It was made clear to officials that the banning of cycling on public
highways (excluding specific vehicle roadways such as freeways) is
illegal. Within four days, during which two meetings with federal
officials took place, the ban was lifted.