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

Author: ottawavelo

bicycler

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