Opening 35 years ago, RentABike Harry Musson says, was born when he and his University of Ottawa classmate were cycling together along the scenic Rideau Canal (Ontario’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site).
“It was after a lecture on Economic History and we were arguing about what we’d heard,” Musson said. “Then he ended the conversation by saying, ‘Would you be interested in getting into the bicycle business?’ and I said, ‘Sure.’” He added that he always loved cycling along the canal, ever since he first came to Ottawa.
After that conversation, Musson said that he and his partner took over the small bike rental business that originally ran out of the Fairmont Château Laurier. “So we had an opening there and that’s where we operated for the first 25 years basically,” he said, adding RentABike is now located across the street from the historic hotel, just along side the Rideau Canal.
Musson said that in Ottawa, the pathways for cycling along the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River are popular. Ottawa itself, is actually home to more than 600 kilometres (373 miles) of recreational pathways. But for Musson, he noted that he prefers cycling east of the downtown core to take in the beauty along the quiet Rockcliffe Parkway, which is also known as the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway.
“The vegetation and the landscaping is lovely,” Musson said. “But it’s also the architecture and some of the stories you can tell about the people who have lived there over the years.” He added that the Rockcliffe Park neighbourhood is also characterized by old pine forests. “They’re just beautiful,” he said.
Musson noted that RentABike offers a guided tour along this parkway and through the lovely Rockcliffe neighbourhood. “The residential roads are excellent, so it’s very scenic, very quiet and very safe,” he said, adding the tour stops at interesting sites such as Rideau Hall and Rideau Falls.
According to Musson, Ottawa is “amazing [when] compared to other places” as it’s a mix of great urban elements and beautiful green spaces. “Around the world, where are you a stone’s throw away from a pond or a hill, from a centre town location?” he said. “You can be on a wonderful pathway and you can be looking at the rivers or other waterways.”
Musson added that though Ottawa is a big city, it’s also like a big town. He noted that in Ottawa, you can walk or cycle along one of the pathways and you’ll run into people you know. “It’s a nice thing because in a lot of places around North America,” he said, “perhaps the cities are very very large and there’s not that sort of intimacy, or that level of familiarity with everything.” Musson said that he likes being able to recognize people on the street.
RentABike will open for the 2016 season on April 8 and new this year, Musson said, the local company will offer walk-in tours in partnership with Ottawa Cycling Tours.
According to Musson, individual tours will be offered two to three times daily and visitors won’t have to book them ahead of time. “So that’ll be a nice little difference,” he said.
At RentABike, you can rent a bike for an hour, a full day, a few days or even a week. Here, you’ll find more than 200 new bikes in various styles that will suit child to adult cyclists. And don’t worry, your chosen bike comes with everything you need; a helmet and a bike lock.