Bike commute from Rockcliffe Park to Downtown and Chinatown

I received a couple of requests for commuter routes starting from Rockcliffe Park. One was how to get to Chinatown and the other was how to access the path along the Ottawa River below Parliament Hill. I combined the two since the following recommended routes vary only slightly. Here goes.

Blue line is the route I followed from Rockcliffe to Chinatown. Red line is the slight variation heading home in the opposite direction. Green line is the route towards the path that runs behind Parliament Hill.

Our adventure begins in the Village Green, an intimate and contemplative public space near the centre of Rockliffe Park.

The Village Green
The Village Green

I exited the Village Green at the corner of Mariposa and Springfield, and headed west on Meriposa.

Something tells me the Yarn Bombers have been by....
Something tells me the Yarn Bombers have been by….

I then turned at the first left down Sir Guy Carleton St and followed it right to the end to the Soeurs de la Charité convent.

East wing facade of the Soeurs de la Charité convent.
East wing facade of the Soeurs de la Charité convent.

Turned right on Maple Lane and followed it to where it met up with Lisgar Road.

Yarn Bombers on the loose!
Yarn Bombers on the loose!

Turned left on Lisgar, which skirts around the Governor General’s Residence, delineated by one of the fanciest fence and fence post combinations around.

Fancy fence post
Fancy fence post

I turned right on Dufferin and continued all the way down to the river. I got onto the Rideau River Eastern Pathway by turning left and headed up river.

Getting on to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway
Getting on to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway

The path goes under St Patrick Street, which, according to the cyclist in the orange shirt up ahead, was covered in water a week ago.

Path under St Patrick St.
Path under St Patrick St.

I continued along the path, which is a very beautiful ride along the river, all the way to the Cummings Bridge, and the one messy spot on our tour.

Approaching Cummings Bridge along the river
Approaching Cummings Bridge along the river

There is a bike lane over the bridge heading west, but it is presently cut short by construction happening on the west side of the bridge like so.

Construction - bike lane ends
Construction – bike lane ends

I suggest crossing over to the south side of the bridge back at the lights and walking your bike along the sidewalk. Fortunately it’s a pretty interesting bridge to cross by foot. For example, you can look out onto Cummings Island which was once accessible and had a general store with the only phone service in town.

Cummings Island
Cummings Island

There isn’t a bike lane heading east over the bridge, and it’s an extremely busy artery with buses and impatient commuter traffic, so I highly recommend walking your bike along the sidewalk heading east as well, construction or no construction.

On the west side of the river there are three very well trodden desire line paths of various steepness that head up to Besserer Park. The path furthest up shore is the least steep, like so. UPDATEMay 2015 There is now a paved bike lane where the desire lane path used to be, as described in this post.

Path up to Besserer St
Path up to Besserer Park
... and through Besserer Park to Besserer St.
… and through Besserer Park to Besserer St.

I pushed my bike up to Besserer Park then zig-zagged my way along quiet streets (Besserer, Wurtenburg, Daly, Cobourg) to Stewart St which has a very freshly painted bike lane line.

Bike Lane along Stewart St
Bike Lane along Stewart St

Stewart is a one way heading west, so on the commute back to Rockcliffe take Wilbrod St which is one way heading east (see red line on above map).

After crossing busy King Edward I headed one more block west and turned left on Cumberland, then right on Wilbrod. I then cut through the Ottawa U campus in front of Tabaret Hall.

Tabaret Hall
Tabaret Hall

I crossed Laurier and continued through the campus on the other side. The road takes a little jog left then right onto a multi use Jean Jacques Lussier with a very wide pedestrian lane, a bike lane heading south and a car lane with a bike sharrow. Ugh, so close. For more on my opinion on sharrows visit this post (click).

Jean Jacques Lussier Lane
Jean Jacques Lussier Lane

It then veers to the left and becomes Marie Curie. Don’t go onto Marie Curie. Instead turn right,which will take you along a mini switch back bike lane and under Nicholas St, to pedestrian lights that get you across Colonel By Drive.

Pedestrian & bike Nicholas St underpass
Pedestrian & bike Nicholas St underpass

Then it’s up onto the pedestrian bridge over the canal, then right onto the bike path along the canal on the other side. To continue west to Chinatown I cut through Confederation Park to the corner of Elgin and Laurier where I joined the Laurier designated bike lane and followed it all the way to where it ends at Bronson, across Bronson, and down Cambridge St N to the heart of Chinatown.

To get to the path behind Parliament Hill I went straight, versus cutting through Confederation Park (see green line on the above map). The path follows right along the canal. Rather than staying on the path many cyclists choose to ride up the NAC traffic ramp. I find it a bit dangerous because cars do travel quite quickly down the ramp, and there are ‘do not enter’ signs at the bottom of the ramp, so if you were to get hit I’m not sure who they would go after. I also once saw the police give a ticket to a cyclist heading up the down ramp.

As the path approaches Sappers Bridge there are two short flights of steps to climb. This might explain why many cyclists choose the NAC ramp versus the path, however there are bike gutters on the edge of the steps that make it easy to push your bike up.

Bike track along stairs at Sappers Bridge
Bike track along stairs at Sappers Bridge

Continuing under Sappers Bridge takes you out the other side on the path that goes down behind Parliament Hill.

Path down beside the canal locks and below Parliament Hill
Path down beside the canal locks and below Parliament Hill

Et voila!

Author: ottawavelo

bicycler

6 thoughts on “Bike commute from Rockcliffe Park to Downtown and Chinatown”

  1. Thank you very much for what you do! This is great advice to someone who doesn’t know the city very well, such as myself.

    I have a question for you; I live near the intersection of Aviation and Montreal near CMHC. I’ve been looking for a good way to get to the pathway behind parliament. One option is to bike down Ogilvie past the St. Laurent shopping center and go through Vanier via Presland to the Rideau, then cross at the transitway and head towards the canal via Lees and Graham. I’m hesitant here since I was clipped by a car on Oglivie a few days ago and it’s usually pretty busy. My other option is to go north via the Aviation Pathway and follow that to Sussex (which is under construction), take the Union st Bridges, and bike through the market.

    I’m semi-uncomfortable driving on busy roads. Any good routes through Vanier/the market that you would recommend?

    1. Thanks for liking the blog!

      I agree – Ogilvie Road and sections of Sussex are not the safest roads to bike along. I have a route in mind for you, so I’ll check it out and try to blog it early next week. Stay tuned!

  2. Thank you for these posts – your efforts to cycle safely and communicate your routes are an inspiration and much appreciated!

    1. Thank you for your kind words! Cycling is such a great way to travel on so many levels – it’s healthy, it’s environmentally friendly, it’s economically healthy for local businesses, and it’s easier on the pocket book than driving. As cycling continues to grow in popularity, demand for safe bike infrastructure on all streets will only increase. Until then I hope to continue to do my best in helping riders find their way safely across the city, as well as try to hi-lite what a great region we live in.

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