Centretowners are blessed with a multitude of fine grocery stores where they can purchase all sorts of unique yummy stuff, be it homemade dumplings on Somerset, or stuffed sausages on Preston. But many Centretowners also need to get to a store that sells the staples at reasonable prices. The Real Canadian Superstore in Westboro is the closest, but it can be a nerve wracking bike ride to get there, especially during regular shopping hours. Instinct would suggest riding down Wellington St W, which turns into Richmond Rd. It is the oldest westwardly street in the region, retaining it’s narrow layout, lined with heritage buildings and historical anecdotes. But over time it has morphed from a human scale promenade to a car traffic, not-very-bike-friendly, ‘artery’. Most surrounding streets have much fewer cars and more room to safely bike along. Here are two suggested bike friendly routes that weave their way through such less travelled vehicular veins, one I take to get there (in orange), the other I follow to get back to Centretown (in blue).
Assuming all Centretown biker’s have discovered their favorite way to get to the O-train bike path, this route starts along the path at the base of the long incline on the south side of the Somerset bridge.
Head on up the incline to Somerset, cross the street, ride along the bike lane over the bridge, and take this mini-flight of stairs (bike trough included) down to Breezehill Ave N on the north side of the bridge, right beside Takaki’s.
You can avoid Somerset/Wellington by weaving your way to Armstrong St, as shown on the map. (n.b. If you choose to return along this route there is a bike lane along the short stretch of Garland St which is otherwise a one way heading north). Big bonus to this route is you get to go right past Parkdale Market and pick up any farmer fresh produce that might be on your shopping list.
You’re going to eventually have to cross Wellington. I suggest you do so at Caroline and Wellington. It isn’t a direct crossing, as per the photo below, so walk your bike all of 10 yards or so to the lights.
On the other side of Wellington you will find yourself on Harmer Avenue. Continue along Harmer to Byron, then follow the paved path that runs along Byron. This is one of the most civilized paths in Ottawa, accommodating a harmonious mix of bikers, dog walkers, kids walking/biking to school, etc.
From this path you can pop right through to the Superstore parking lot and weave your way to the bike racks at the western corner of the store on Richmond.
Now, how do you get all of THIS back to Centretown?!
Chaque à son gout (big back pack; trailer; cargo bike; etc), but I recommend expandable panniers like these ones. They are also excellent for touring. And buy your milk at the Shoppers Drug Mart at Bank along the Laurier bike lane. Cheaper, and avoids those heavy milk bags taking up valuable pannier real estate.
OK, alternative route #2 – heading home.
Cross Richmond Rd (which was Wellington further East) at Kirkwood.
At the end of Kirkwood take this path link to W. Village Private. Assume W. Village is the name of a distinguished Canadian soldier and carry right on through.
Cross busy Scott to Lanark Ave.
Lanark eventually veers West, which isn’t where you want to go, so hop the sidewalk over to Latchford Road, like so. Fear not, the sidewalk is ramped on both sides.
Weave you way easterly along quiet streets shown on the map until you reach Carleton Ave. Head north along the link to the Ottawa River Pathway. Here’s the elegant Parkway underpass that gets you to the river.
Follow the Ottawa River Pathway all the way to the turn off to the O-Train path, and head on home. Whoda thunk grocery shopping could be so much fun?