Citizens for Safe Cycling 4th Annual Family Winter Cycling Parade : The Route

The Fourth Annual Citizens for Safe Cycling Family Winter Parade takes place on Sunday, January 25th starting at 11am. This year’s route follows a 4km elongated east-west loop through Centretown, beginning and ending at the south entrance to City Hall. Here’s how it goes.

Ottawa City Hall south entrance
Ottawa City Hall south entrance

Riders will head south on Cartier Street for a short block before turning left onto Cooper Street. Cooper is a one way that curves south just before it reaches Queen Elizabeth Drive and becomes The Driveway. There’s a stop sign where The Driveway meets Somerset Street. Traffic on Somerset doesn’t have a stop, so crossing Somerset requires a gap in traffic. I’ve hi-lited on the map where this occurs at other intersections along the route. Gaps in traffic were frequent and generous at all intersections on the two wintry Sunday mornings I tested out the route at 11am.

Just beyond Somerset the route veers right on to MacLaren Street. MacLaren is a calm one way heading west through Centretown.

MacLaren Street
MacLaren Street

There is a potpourri of interesting architectural styles to be seen along MacLaren, like this well preserved home built for lumber baron JR Booth in 1909 at the corner of Metcalfe & MacLaren.

Booth residence
Booth residence

Or this assortment of styles from various decades throughout the history of Centretown.

Architecture along MacLaren St
Architecture along MacLaren St

The parade will then turn north onto Bay Street beside Dundonald Park. There is a bike lane along Bay Street that unfortunately isn’t cleared in the winter, but it is a quiet street on Sunday mornings in January.

Bay Street
Bay Street

The tour will then turn right onto the Laurier Street Bike Lane which IS cleared and salted throughout the winter.

Laurier Bike Lane
Laurier Bike Lane

After crossing Elgin Street the parade will turn onto the plaza on the north side of City Hall.

North side of City Hall
North side of City Hall

Riders will then follow the short path on the west side of City Hall to complete the loop.

Path beside City Hall
Path beside City Hall
FINISH/ARRIVÉE
FINISH/ARRIVÉE

POST EVENT UPDATE: It was a big success! Around 50 riders showed up. A thorough description of the event can be found on the Citizens For Safe Cycling website by clicking here.

The 4th Annual Winter Bike Parade! - Photo : Hans Moor
The 4th Annual Winter Bike Parade! (Photo : Hans Moor)

Biking to the Rideau Canal Skateway from Centretown

One of Ottawa’s finest winter assets is the the Rideau Canal Skateway. Walking there from most parts of Centretown is pretty good, but if you live on the western edge of the ward it may be more convenient to go by bike. Here’s how.

If your starting point is west of Bronson, find your way to Arthur street and head north (see blue line on the following map). There’s a traffic light to help get across busy Somerset. Turn right on Primrose, then left on Cambridge, which veers right and becomes Laurier. On the other side of the lights at the intersection of Laurier and Bronson is the start of the Laurier Bike Lane heading east, which is cleared and salted throughout the winter.

Laurier Bike Lane
Laurier Bike Lane

If you are starting on the east side of Bronson, the safest road to follow to the Laurier Bike Lane is Bay Street, a one way heading north. It has a bike lane that is not cleared in the winter, but sections of it are often partially visible, depending on the amount of snow.

I follow the Laurier Bike Lane all the way to the plaza at City Hall, just east of Elgin Street. I then cross Laurier at the crosswalk in front of the plaza and cut through Confederation Park where there are stairs down to the canal skateway. You can lock your bike to the steel tube railing that runs pretty much the length of the canal.

Rideau Canal Access point at Confederation Park
Rideau Canal Access point at Confederation Park

The canal is void of skaters in the above photo because this section hadn’t opened yet, however when it is good-to-go it tends to be very busy, especially on weekends or during Winterlude, so I often prefer accessing the canal at the end of Somerset street. To do so, I cut through the plaza and around City Hall (purple line on above map). I then follow quiet side streets and cross Queen Elizabeth Drive at Somerset where there is a crosswalk to the canal pathway. There are some cleared stairs that bring you down to the ice, just to the right of the pedestrian bridge over the canal, like so.

Access to skate way at the end of Somerset St
Access to skate way at the end of Somerset St

The paths along either side of the canal are cleared, so you can bike to to most of the many access stairs.

On the way back I followed the canal path to and through Confederation Park (green line on map).

Path through Confederation park
Path through Confederation park

This brought me to the corner of Elgin and Laurier, and back on the Laurier Bike lane heading west. The segregated & cleared portion unfortunately ends at Bay Street. There is a narrow non-segregated bike lane but it isn’t cleared. Laurier is a busy street. If the lane is full of snow I take to the sidewalk.

Laurier west of Lyon
Laurier west of Lyon

If you are staying on the east side of Bronson, the best street to take south is Percy. It too has a bike lane, but similar to the one on Bay, it isn’t cleared in the winter. I live west of Bronson, so I continue straight along Laurier and cross at the traffic lights at Bronson.

Et voila – happy skating!

Carla on opening day, 2015
Carla on opening day, 2015

Bears in the Capital! An Ottawa Bike Tour

Canada is home to one of the largest populations of bears in the world. They have inspired sculptors from across the country and been depicted in many of their works. I have yet to come across a wild bear on any of my cycling exploits, as have these fortunate cyclists, however I’ve happened upon a number of sculptural interpretations of the Ursidae family throughout the capital. So, if you are a lover of bears, or sculptures of bears, this tour is for you!

We begin at the intersection of Sparks Street and Elgin Street where stands this big bronze statue of a fishing grizzly by artist Bruce Garner (for tours of other sculptural works by Bruce throughout the capital, click here).

Territorial Perogative
Territorial Perogative

I then rode around the National Arts Centre via the ramp off Elgin Street, and cut through Confederation Park to the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument, sculpted by Lloyd Pinay. A life sized bear is one of four animals depicted in the base of the bronze sculpture, each representing spirit guides. The bear symbolizes healing powers.

National Aboriginal Veterans Monument
National Aboriginal Veterans Monument

Our next stop is located in the Jeanne d’Arc Courtyard in the Byward Market. To get there I cut through the plaza in front of City Hall, then along quiet residential streets to the bike & pedestrian bridge over the canal at Somerset St. I then rode along the Rideau Canal, and crossed Colonel By Drive at Daly Avenue. The stretch of Colonel By/Sussex St between Daly and George where it intersects Rideau Street does not have a bike lane and most times of the week it is filled with cars, trucks and buses jostling their way through this busy intersection. The safest time to try this tour would be early Sunday morning when biking through this area isn’t so dangerous.

To access Jeanne d’Arc Courtyard from the south requires walking along the York Street sidewalk just off Sussex for a short distance. Within the courtyard you’ll find Dancing Bear by Inuit sculptor Pauta Salia.

Dancing Bear
Dancing Bear

Our last destination is Green Island located in the middle of the Rideau River. To get there I made my way from the Jeanne d’Arc Courtyard over to St Andrew Street which crosses busy King Edward at a signalled crosswalk. I then took Rose Street to the path through Bordeleau Park.

The path through the park pops out onto Union Street and over the white bridge onto Green Island. The Old City Hall covers most of Green Island, and in the central open space sits this sculpture of a polar bear perched on a metal pyramid engraved with star constellations. It is one of a grouping of three sculptures by Catherine Widgery titled Objective Memory. The pieces are surrounded by water in the summer months.

Objective Memory by Catherine Widgery
Objective Memory

As I was riding home snowflakes started to fall signalling the arrival of our most recent storm. Unless we experience another freak thaw such as the one we just had between Christmas and New Year’s, this tour may have to wait until Spring. No worries, lots of great winter riding to come. All very bear-able.