30 Days of Biking – day 8: Checking out the O-Train path

I biked to a meeting on Clemow Avenue in the Glebe this morning. Afterwards I decided to check out the bike-ability of the O-Train path. I sensed it was still snowed in, but ya never know….

From Clemow I chose to pedal along Percy over to Fifth Avenue because there’s a light at Fifth and Bronson. Bronson’s a nasty street to cross sans traffic lights. On the other side of Bronson you’re on Madawaska Drive.

Madawaska Drive, just west of Bronson
Madawaska Drive, just west of Bronson

I was hoping the path through Commissioners Park from the end of Madawask would be clear. No such luck, but bike-able if you don’t mind the ice and slush.

Path through Commisioners Park
Path through Commisioners Park

Crossed Queen Elizabeth Drive to the Canal Western Pathway, which has been cleared all winter, over to the start of the O-Train Path off Prince Of Wales Drive. This part is still iced in. They’ve recently cut down a whole line of trees along this stretch, I’m guessing victims of the Emerald Ash Borer.

O-Train path between Prince of Wales and Carling
O-Train path between Prince of Wales and Carling

The path on the north side of Carling is mostly clear of snow but very muddy & mucky.

Carling to Young
Carling to Young

From Young things improve with the paved path, but there are still some slushy patches. Conditions were much better, very bike-able, between Gladstone and the incline up to Somerset.

Gladstone to Somerset
Gladstone to Somerset

The underpass is not so good. Someone put down wooden pallets to get across the ice and puddles.

Somerset underpass
Somerset underpass

I got off the path just on the other side of the underpass.

So, with todays rain and highs of 13 degrees from Thursday on, I’m guessing things will be much better by the weekend. Hope so. Want to organize a group bike outing along the O-train path to the Experimental Farm on Saturday.

30 Days of Biking – Day 7: Off to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Île

Today I had to drop off an eight foot long clear plastic tube to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Île in Gatineau, to be incorporated into a set I designed. A section of path I usually take to get there is still covered in snow, as I learnt from Jambes-Folles, an intrepid local rider who has also taken the 30 Days of Biking pledge. So I followed her Tweeted advice on a safe alternate route. Merci Jambes-Folles!

Blue line shows the route that got me to Les Ateliers. Curiosity got the best of me, so I took the snowy route back, i.e, the red line, that takes you under the bridge.

How does one carry an eight foot long plastic tube on a bike? I strap long light items such as this to the side of my big red camping back pack. This technique works for cross country skiis and painting easels as well. The only precaution is to avoid low hanging branches and distracted drivers mouthing,’What the..!’.

Carry on.
Carry on.

And away we go, down the Laurier bike lane as far as Bay Street, then north along the Bay St bike lane to Wellington where the path rolls over Portage Bridge. The bike counter installed last year by the NCC is on but the display is stuck at zero. Fear not – according to Jambes-Folles the machine is still tallying the number of riders crossing the bridge on this site she forwarded to me.

Portage Bridge bike lane counter
Portage Bridge bike lane counter

On the Gatineau side, just before reaching the Rue Laurier intersection, I usually dip right onto the Voyageurs Pathway which you can follow under the bridge, but that’s where it’s snowed in, so, On J-F’s advice, I crossed at the lights and followed this path on the south side of Rue Laurier heading West until it joined the Voyageurs Pathway further on. This alternate path gets a little narrow for a very short section closer to where it joins the Voyageur Pathway, so should you come across a pedestrian along that stretch, walking your bike would be a safe bet.

Across the Portage & Rue Laurier intersection ......... and along the path on the south side of Rue Laurier
Across the Portage & Rue Laurier intersection ……… and along the path on the south side of Rue Laurier

I normally ride up Rue Eddy but I discovered it’s closed at Rue Wellington due to construction, so I rode up Leduc instead, which is a better option anyway, as it’s a quieter street.

Les Ateliers, which you can read more about on this post, is located at the corner of Rue Garneau and Leduc.

Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l'Île
Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Île

Tube delivered, time to head home. There are lots of squat temporary stop signs like this throughout downtown Gatineau these days to watch out for.

Petit panneau
Petit panneau

I had a bit of extra time so I chose to test out the path under the bridge. It is indeed icy, mushy and difficult to ride along. Should be good in a week or so if the warm weather keeps up.

Under the Portage Bridge, Quebec side
Under the Portage Bridge, Quebec side

Once back on the Ottawa side of the bridge I decided to check out the snowiness of the Ottawa River Pathway. It was worse. Coupled with the shattered bottles strewn all over under the bridge I recommend waiting until most of the snow has melted and the glass all swept up.

Under bridge Ontario side
Under bridge Ontario side

Part of the goal of my blogging throughout the 30 Days of Biking was to recommend safe routes to go about daily tasks in the region. On the way back I instinctively rode up Nanny Goat Hill along Bronson. This is not a safe thing to do, particularly at the corner of Bronson and Slater where cars roar up the hill, sometimes clipping the edge of the sidewalk. If you go this way I suggest pushing your bike along the sidewalk on the east side of Bronson. An even safer alternative, as suggested by the green line on the above map, would be to ride on the bike path along Albert to Empress St. At the end of Empress there is a set of stairs with bike ramps to push your bike up, as described in this ramp tour post.

Et voila, mission accomplie!

30 Days of Biking – Day 6 : Chinatown to Ottawa South, option number three

Hockey season is over, so this afternoon my son and I rode to Old Ottawa South and dropped off his team jerseys to be re-used by another player next season. This is the second time in my 30 Days of Biking adventures that I’ve pedaled to Old Ottawa South. The first was on day 3, however this time we followed a slightly longer route that avoids the not-so-safe Bank St bridge over the canal. Here’s how.

First we biked to and through the Experimental Farm, as described in this post, and crossed the Rideau Canal at the Hartwell Locks.

Crossing over the Hartwell Locks
Crossing over the Hartwell Locks

We cut through the Carleton University Campus, where we noticed this self serve bike repair stand against the wall of the School of Architecture. Good idea.

Bike repair stand at Carleton
Bike repair stand at Carleton

We then pedalled across Brewer Park along paths to Ottawa South, dropped off the jerseys, then followed the same route to get home as per my previous day 3 outing. A fine day for a bicycle ride.

30 Days of Biking – Day 5: Chinatown to Westboro

A group called Westboro Beach On the Move organised an afternoon series of biking events, so on this the 5th instalment of 30 Days of Biking I took the opportunity to ride over and check it out!

From Chinatown I rode over to Armstrong in the manner desctibed in this post. I crossed Parkdale Avenue at the traffic light. I then turned north onto Hamilton where Orange Gallery is located.

Orange Gallery
Orange Gallery

Turned left onto Spencer St and continued west, taking advantage of the traffic light to cross busy Holland Ave., then right onto Carleton to get to the traffic light at Scott. I then continued westwardly on the bike lane that runs alongside Scott.

Bike lane along Scott
Bike lane along Scott

Scott ends at Churchill. I veered left on Churchill to Madison Avenue where the event was taking place. It was great – there was an OC Transpo bus to show how to mount my bike on it’s Rack and Roll stand. Great to have a dry run. Gave me confidence to give it a try for real! The OC Transpo driver was very helpful.

I had hoped to take advantage of their free tune-ups but hadn’t reserved a spot. I did manage to participate in a muscle stretching workshop, where we were shown a great bunch of exercises to limber up and help prepare muscles important for riding.

‘Twas a fine outing.

30 Days of Biking – Day 4: Off to see some ordered destruction

The huge Sir John Carling Building located on the edge of the Experimental Farm is being demolished, and they are being very meticulous about it. Various materials are sorted into piles of debris in what was once a vast parking lot. It’s all visually stunning, so early on day 4 of my 30 Days of Biking adventure I biked over there and took photos.

Update – July 13, 2014: The Sir John Carling Building came tumbling down early this morning in spectacular fashion in a controlled explosion.

I followed the route described in this post in reverse with one minor change. Rather than ride diagonally across Commissioners Park from Booth and Carling to the corner of Preston and the Queen Elizabeth Driveway over a packed path, which is presently mush, I cut straight over to the Queen Elizabeth Driveway from Booth along a cleared path. Didn’t know they plowed this link. Then I followed the Recreational Pathway along Dows Lake to Preston & Queen Elizabeth.

Path from Booth&Carling to Dow's Lake
Path from Booth&Carling to Dow’s Lake

Sir John Carling Building, or at least what’s left of it, is located a short ways up Prince of Wales Drive.

Rebar
Rebar
Metal pile
Metal pile
Rubble
Rubble

Et voila!

30 Days of Biking – Day 3: Riding to the Ottawa South Community Centre

Today I rode to the Ottawa South Community Centre to fill out a spring registration. Could have done so online, but I needed a task which included getting in the saddle for day three of the 30 Days of Biking challenge!

Starting from the Chinatown Arch at Cambridge and Somerset, you could ride east along Somerset to the bike path along Percy, but crossing Bronson at Somerset is harrowing for cyclists and pedestrians alike. Modalmom recommended crossing Bronson at Arlington, as it has become a much safer and quieter place to cross since a traffic light was added to this intersection. I tested it out, and the theory proved true.

I rode along Arlington to Percy and followed the bike path under the Queensway. The path ends on the other side, but Percy’s still a safe street to ride along through the Glebe to Fifth Avenue. From Fifth I wiggled my way along residential streets as shown on the above map to the corner of Wilton and Bank. Now this route to get to the Ottawa South Community Centre would be perfect, if not for the Bank Street bridge over the Rideau Canal. Cars love to fly over this old pont, making for a tense traverse.

Heading over Bank St Bridge
Heading over Bank St Bridge

The Ottawa South Community Centre is housed in an old fire station.Built in 1921 on Sunnyside Avenue, it was designed by W.F. Noffke in the Spanish Colonial Style. The inside has recently been completely renovated into a slick contemporary looking facility. The person who served me at the front desk was very very helpful. Success!

Ottawa South Community Centre
Ottawa South Community Centre

The route home (in red on the map) is a couple of kilometers longer than the one I took to get there, but avoids having to cross the Bank St Bridge. I continued down Sunnyside and made my way to Echo Drive. Echo runs parallel to the canal, just above Colonel By Drive. It is a quiet street, popular with cyclists, pedestrians and joggers.

I crossed the parkway at Clegg Street to the Rideau Canal Pathway.

Looking north down the Rideau Canal
Looking north down the Rideau Canal

After riding up and over the pedestrian/bike bridge at Somerset I continued along the path that runs on the north side of the canal. To avoid riding along Laurier between the canal and Elgin I cut through Confederation Park to where the Laurier Bike Lane starts on the west side of Elgin. From there it was smooth sailing all the way home. Ta-da!

30 Days of Biking – Day 2: From Chinatown to the Royal Bank in Hintonburg.

A quick look at a map will tell you the most direct route from Chinatown to Hintonburg is straight down Somerset and Wellington St West. However there are a few nasty spots along that artery. Here, as travelled today on day two of my 30 Days of Biking pledge, are my preferred routes there and back.

One of the many reasons living in Chinatown is so great is the wonderful selection of produce stores and restaurants. There is also a lot of quick turnover street parking along the stretch between Bronson and Preston, and not much room on the road to share with traffic, lest a door on a parked car swing open. I am very vigilant when I approach parked cars. I check to see if there is anyone sitting in the passenger seat, making sure there is sufficient time to stop, just in case. School of hard knocks. I’ve been doored. It sucks. Once beyond Preston there is reprieve with a recently introduced bike lane on the bridge over the train tracks. Unfortunately the bike lane ends on the other side of the bridge like so.

Code for 'Ride on and you might get smushed'.
Code for ‘Ride on and you might get smushed’.

From then on Somerset/Wellington West becomes very narrow, busy and dangerous, with lots of on street parking. I avoid it all by taking this short flight of steps, immediately to the right of the sign shown in the above photo.

Steps & trough down to Breezehill.
Steps & trough down to Breezehill.

I then ride along quiet Breezehill Ave, cross Bayview Road, and turn right on Garland to Armstrong. Armstrong is a great east/west street that runs parallel to crazy Wellington. Nice and calm.

I turn onto McCormick St to get to the Royal Bank on Wellington. This takes you past Right Bike, the wonderful bike sharing group, whose headquarters happen to be on McCormick.

Right on Right Bike!
Right on Right Bike!

My route back is indicated in red on the above map. Garland is a one way heading north for cars, but there is a lane for cyclists heading south. There is also a new LCBO at the corner of Garland and Somerset, which I took advantage of and popped in to buy a bottle of wine to have with supper!

one of the most treacherous spots along Somerset is the south west corner at Preston St, as so vividly described in this bloggers post. For some reason, perhaps because of the extra turning lane at this corner, drivers become goofy dangerous and impatient to turn south onto Preston. When riding home with my kids from Devonshire school on Breezehill I would avoid the corner by turning right onto the Public Works laneway, that turns into a mini underpass below Somerset through to City Centre. The underpass is quite narrow so extra caution is required to make sure no cars are coming the other way.

Somerset bridge underpass
Somerset bridge underpass

I then take a combination of quiet streets, as indicated on the above map, over to Primrose. There’s a pedestrian light to get you across busy Booth St. Now the minor hick with this solution to avoiding the corner of Somerset&Preston is having to carry your bike up this set of stairs. If you’ve ever lived in a second or third floor apartment this should be easy-peasy.

stairs

At the top of the stairs there is a lane that takes you up to where Primrose continues.

Path up to Primrose
Path up to Primrose

Ta-da!