I was about to recommend a route to a friend who is trying to figure out the safest bike commute from Island Park to Lancaster Road in the east end, until I realised I had never biked there during working hours. How good a recommendation would that have been? So at 4:30 yesterday afternoon, after driving home from Toronto, desperate to go for a bike ride, I tested out the route.
The purple line is the commute I would recommend to my friend, the red line is the additional path I took to get to the route and back.
The route starts in Fisher Park on the pathway that runs parallel to Byron, accessible from any of the adjoining streets. Follow the path as far as Island Park Drive.
It then continues along Island Park Drive to where it ends at Carling Avenue. As you can see the bike lanes on either side of the driveway aren’t overly generous in width and are a bit rough, but they are adequate. I felt safe. This is a popular road during rush hour as it leads to and from Pont Champlain across the Ottawa River, so proceed with extra caution along this stretch.
Things get a bit kooky at Carling. Continue across Carling to where it intersects Holland Avenue. A branch of the Experimental Farm Pathway starts here. Zip along until you reach a fork in the path. Bear right along the dirt path that leads into a wooded area. It weaves and floats up and down through towering trees, very magical.
Turn left once this section of path ends and continue all the way down Cow Lane, then right on Morning Side Lane. I’ve rarely seen cars on these roads.
Midway down Morningside Lane turn left. That takes you to a crosswalk across Prince of Wales Drive. Continue straight through. The road turns right towards the canal locks across from Carleton Universty. After crossing the locks and carrying your bike down a few stairs, turn right up the bike path. Now it gets a bit convoluted once the path reaches Hogs Back Road. The path goes under the road, then along Hogs Back Road over the falls, and back under before continuing down the opposite side of the Rideau River.
This path meanders along the river through Vincent Massy Park. On a warm summers evening the park is filled with families pic-nicking around the many tables and bbq’s. The design of this elegant service pavilion and canopy allow for rain water to be channeled off the roof into undergrounds cisterns, minimizing reliance on the municipal water supply.
Close by are these older pavilions designed in the modernist style popular of the late fifties and sixties.
Here’s a view further downstream where the O-train passes overhead.
Further down the path beyond Bank Street there is a trail sign directing bikers towards Pleasant Park Road. Once on this road it becomes the longest section of the route shared by bikes and cars. I am happy to report that riding along Pleasant Park Road at this time of day was… pleasant! I kid you not. The road is wide with ample room for both forms of transport and the road is in great shape.
There is an nice shortcut through Weston Park just before the eastern extremity of Pleasant Park Road. Now the messiest part of the route occurs just before reaching Lancaster Road, our final destination. That’s because St-Laurent Boulevard is a convoluted cluster at this point – a very tricky triangle to safely negotiate on a bike SO, I suggest cutting through the Elmvale Acres parking lot all the way to Smyth Road before crossing St Laurent at the intersection.
Then just a short ride down Lancaster Road to the Museum and voila! Mission accomplished. Now that I’ve travelled the route and ironed out a few bugs in the process I feel quite confident recommending this route.