Back in 1959 a Kingstonian by the name of Mel Barr bought a bunch of land Southwest of Ottawa with the intention of building a racecourse. Those plans got messed up when the Rideau Carleton Raceway beat him to it, so he sub-divided the land and sold it to various developers. This started a flourish of housing developments in what was previously an expanse of rural homesteads. And so it was…and so it continues to be, as the majority of the remaining landholdings in the area are owned by developers who continue the suburban trend started by good old Mel. Early Saturday morning I plotted two bike routes to Barrhaven and headed off to test them out. The blue line shows the route I took to get there, purple line is how I got back.
There is a paved shoulder along Prince of Wales Drive from Dows Lake to Hunt Club Road that looks mostly like this ….
…except where the shoulder dangerously disappears just before and up to Rideau Heights Lane like so. I rode along the strip of gravel off to the side.
Beyond Hunt Club Road there is a paved shoulder to bike along, albeit narrower and in rough shape, like so.
Design plans do exist to widen Prince of Wales between Hunt Club and Woodroffe Avenue to include bike lanes but the project’s implementation phase is scheduled anywhere between 2016-2022.
Riding conditions improve dramatically along the sections of Fallowfield Road, Merivale Road and Leikin Drive that I followed. The shoulders are in much better shape and identified as bike lanes, like so.
The residential area I biked through seems to have been developed in the 70’s and 80’s, based on the size of the trees and style of architecture. A good thing about having various species of big trees on front yards in many suburban developments is how they lend some distinction to properties whose houses are very similar in design.
The area was also developed before the regional amalgamation when it was still part of the city of Nepean, as suggested by the design of these park signs. They have been around long enough now to have acquired a 70’s retro feel – poured concrete structures, big comfy corner radii and Helvetica typeface in all caps.
Time to head home. I followed Fallowfield to this very nice recreational pathway that runs along Woodroffe through the Greenbelt.
The path circles behind the Nepean Sportsplex and crosses West Hunt Club Road at this dedicated cross walk.
Eventually the path meets Woodfield Drive which I followed to Merivale Road. This section of Merivale doesn’t have the generous bike lane experienced further south. But it does have a paved strip one sometimes finds between busy roads and sidewalks, like so.
I followed it as far as Colonnade Road. Colonnade has no shoulder. Fortunately a bike path turn off is just a short ways along, like so.
UPDATE – August 2015: A new bike path along Colonnade, linking Merivale Road to the bike path described above has been installed!
I continued along the path until I reached the option to turn along a path that follows Nepean Creek, which I did.
I then followed it up to Viewmount Drive, which has this great big allotment garden running alongside it.
I followed Viewmount until it reached Fisher Avenue. Ah, Fisher, if only it had bike lanes. It would accomplish wonders in advancing the popularity of bike commuting for so many Ottawans living south-west of downtown. The room is there. At present however, there are none and it’s a dangerous stretch as a result. It wasn’t too bad at 7 am Saturday morning, but I’ve riden down it during regular weekly working hours and it’s pretty scary. If I was following this route as my bike commute from Barrhaven I might consider heading south on Fisher and riding along Prince of Wales into town. But for this route I headed north along Fisher until it met up with the Experimental Farm Pathway.
So there you go – two ways to bike to Barrhaven. Neither perfect, but still very do-able and, for the most part, very pleasant. I look forward to re-visiting Mel Barr’s old stomping grounds, to further explore the subtle layers of character introduced over its relatively short history of modern development.
p.s. Here’s another route I followed to get to Barrhaven last summer – (click on this red text).