The O-Train is shut down until September – YIKES!
Here is a suggested bike route alternative for O-Train commuters.
Blue line is the north-south voyage, Green line is a slight variation heading the other way, red line is another option.
UPDATE June 2014 – The Sawmill Creek has been extended, simplifying the route described in the original post substantially. I have indicated the extension on the map below in purple, and describe it in detail in this June 2014 post.
First, the north-south journey. The new bike path along the O-Train from the Ottawa River to Dow’s Lake officially opens May 7th but it is possible to access and travel the length of the path, no problemo.
At Carling Ave the path continues across four lanes and a meridian.
There’s a traffic light a short distance west at Champagne Ave S where one can cross.
Once you reach Prince of Wales Drive cut through the Arboretum. Don’t let this kooky sign discourage you.
Cross the canal at Hartwell’s Locks across from Carleton University.
Next, bike through the Carleton campus and along Bronson Avenue over the Rideau River. There is a bike lane along Bronson, but if the speeding traffic along this stretch makes you uncomfortable then choose the alternate route hi-lited in red on the map. It takes you along the canal and over Hogs Back Falls which I describe in more detail on this post. That said, I felt safe riding along the bike lane on Bronson. I think my choice of clothing which had a passing resemblance to many a peace officers bike uniform (bright yellow bike jacket, black rain pants and blue helmet) may have helped encourage the traffic to slow down – note the brake lights on these passing cars.
The section along Bronson is short. Once over the Rideau River, take the first exit and follow along quiet bike paths which affords you this interesting perspective of the Edward Drake Building.
Crossing Heron Road is a bit tricky because the path on the opposite side isn’t obviously marked. Cross at the nearest traffic lights a short distance west and come back on the other side, where you can access the path beside the train tracks and continue on, like so. This is the Heron road O-Train stop.
This path brings you to the Brookfiled Road round-about. Continue along Flannery Drive, then turn left on Springland Drive. This train track underpass at the end of Springland Drive joins up with Cromwell Drive on the opposite side.
Meander along and turn left on Avoncourt Way to Walkley Road.
Walkley isn’t great to bike along – 4 lanes and usually lots of traffic. There is some shoulder room, providing a fine opportunity for the authorities to install bike lanes similar to those previously travelled along Bronson to make this safer and more accessible. This route requires travelling along Walkley for a short distance only, so walking your bike on the sidewalk would be an alternate option if one doesn’t feel comfortable biking this stretch.
Once on the bridge overlooking the Airport Parkway you will find yourself looking down at the bike path. To get there you can either carry your bike down the covered OC Transpo stairwell, or take the public elevator on the opposite side of Walkley.
Now it is possible to take the bus to satisfy the O-Train blues, but I’ve heard the service isn’t quite as dependable as the train…
.. and you will discover biking is a great way to go.
Continuing along the path you will happen upon and ride along the Sawmill Creek Wetland, a fantastic series of ponds and a natural habitat for all sorts of birds. Red winged blackbirds were in abundance this weekend.
If you’ve ever headed to the airport you may have noticed this structure being built along the Aviation Parkway. It’s eventually going to be a public pathway over the Parkway!
This north-south route ends at Hunt Club Road, just beyond the last O-Train stop. There you may see this fantastic old telegraph pole entirely draped in vines.
The ride heading back is very similar with one major variation. To get to the bike lane heading north on Bronson you need to get to the other side. I followed the road that goes down from the Edward Drake Building and circles under the bridge. Unfortunately it also becomes the Bronson south off ramp towards Riverside Drive, another four lane road. Once having biked under Bronson I carried my bike up these stairs to get to the Bronson bike lane heading north.
SO, for the south-north trip I suggest ignoring Bronson altogether and taking the red route shown on the above map, from the Brookfield round-about.
Dear O-train commuters, I am quite confident that, after a test ride or two, you will be convinced biking is a great alternative and, dare I say, you may never go back…