Biking to the Ottawa International Airport from Downtown

There are a number of bike routes one may follow to get to the Ottawa International Airport from downtown.
Here’s my favourite.

Starting off from the corner of Laurier Avenue and Percy I headed south along the Percy Street bike lane. Percy and Laurier is an intersection that’s easily accessible from many points within the business core via the Laurier Bike Lane that slices through downtown.

 Bike lane along Percy
Bike lane along Percy

Percy continues on the opposite side of the tunnel under the Queensway sans bike lane.

Riding along Percy south of the Queensway
Percy south of the Queensway

I turned right on Fifth Avenue and crossed Bronson Avenue at the traffic lit intersection.

Traffic lights at Fifth Avenue heading across Bronson
Traffic lights at Fifth & Bronson

Once across Bronson I continued down Madawask Drive, then onto the pathway that cuts through Commissioners Park.

Access to path through Commissioners Park from Madawaska Drive
Lovely path through Commissioners Park. Always lots of flowers.

This path took me to the intersection of Preston Street and Prince of Wales Drive.

Path through Commissioners Park as it approaches Prince of Wales and Preston
Approaching Prince of Wales and Preston

I crossed at the lights and accessed the bike path that runs through the Arboretum along the edge of Dow’s Lake and the Rideau Canal.

Path through the Arboretum along the Rideau Canal
Ahhh…where are we going again? Oh yes, the airport.

I pushed my bike over the canal locks opposite Carleton University and continued west along the Rideau Canal Pathway as far as Mooney’s Bay.

Up & over the locks
Up & over the locks

The path continues over the Rideau River along Hogs Back Road.

Once over the Hogs Back Falls bridge take the path to the right that goes through Mooneys Bay park
Once over the Hogs Back Falls bridge take the path to the right that goes through Mooney’s Bay park

On the other side of Mooney’s Bay Park the path continues along Riverside Drive for a short distance. Riverside Drive is a very busy street with lots of speeding traffic. For much of its length there are paved raised shoulders between the sidewalk and the street, however these are mostly lacking along the stretch between Walkley Road and Quesnel Drive.

I see lots of cyclists at this intersection whenever I ride through this area. Most stick to the sidewalks because they have little choice, considering the crazy traffic and lack of shoulder space to ride along. This stretch of Riverside is screaming for bike infrastructure.

To avoid this nasty section I rode a short distance along the dirt path beside the sidewalk and crossed Riverside to the parking lot of the Anglican Church.

Crossed to the church parking lot, just beyond the cyclist riding on the sidewalk.
Crossed to the church parking lot, just beyond the cyclist riding on the sidewalk.
Entrance to church parking lot off Riverside
Entrance to church parking lot off Riverside

I rode through to the opposite side of the church parking lot to the short path that cuts through to Otterson Drive.

Short path from the church parking lot through to Otterson Drive
Church parking lot, to path, to Otterson Drive

I rode south along Otterson, then down the short path that links to Quesnel Drive. I then got back on Riverside Drive and continued south along the previously mentioned raised paved shoulders. They extend from Quesnel to Uplands Drive, apart from a few spots where Riverside intersects streets and bus stops.

Paved shoulder along Riverside Drive
Paved shoulder along Riverside Drive

Then I turned left on Uplands Drive for a short distance before continuing south along Bowesville Road.

Mid way down Bowesville there’s a NO THROUGH TRAFFIC sign, and a smaller green one below it that asks pedestrians and cyclists passing through to remain on the road. That’s because it cuts through the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club. There’s a steel gate a bit beyond the signs, however there’s space to ride by just to the right.

Signs midway down Bowesville, and gate a bit further on.
Signs midway down Bowesville, and gate a bit further on.

Once beyond the golf club property I crossed Hunt Club Road at the lights and continued south along Paul Benoit Driveway. This is a very pleasant road to ride down. Traffic wasn’t too speedy, the posted limit being 50km/h. There is also a paved path that runs along the west side of the road.

Paul Benoit Driveway
Paul Benoit Driveway

To get to the terminal I turned right where Paul Benoit Driveway ends at the airport, straight through the employee parking, then left at the end of the parking lot, which became a lane that airport employees use to walk back and forth to their cars. This lane leads right to the arrivals doors in front of the terminal.

Right @ end of PB Driveway...straight through parking...left @ end of parking...down lane to arrivals.
Turned right @ end of PB Driveway…straight through parking…left @ end of parking…down lane to arrivals.

The following concrete pillars located just outside the entrance to the airport at the arrivals doors have bike racks placed up against them.

Bike racks
Bike racks

Bonus – if conditions aren’t right for riding back in to town, there’s the OC Transpo 97 with Rack&Roll you can catch beside the last concrete column at the arrivals entrance.

Rack&Roll'ing on the 97
Rack&Roll’ing on the 97

I retraced my treads on my ride back, except for the last stretch north of the Queensway where the bike lane is along Bayswater versus Percy, as indicated by the purple line on the above map.

UPDATE – summer 2019: For a route heading from the airport to the downtown Byward Market click here.

Et voila!

Author: ottawavelo


6 thoughts on “Biking to the Ottawa International Airport from Downtown”

  1. Arriving at YOW with a bike is also simple. Arrivals are on the main floor. Go out the main door and cross over the street to the multilevel parking garage. Walk or ride through the garage to the back and out onto the short vehicle ramp onto Airport Parkway Private. Watch for coming cars then go against the flow for about 30 feet and down onto the ramp to Tracker Private (Check it out on Google maps) Proceed North on Tracker Private then turn right onto Silver Star Private. Turn left on Paul Benoit Driveway and continue through the Hunt Club Golf course. Turn left onto Uplands drive then Right on Riverside Drive. Continue to the bike path through Mooney’s Bay park. From there continue to Ottawa on the bike paths along the canal or the Rideau River…. Enjoy biking in Ottawa.

    1. We are flying into YOW with bikes in Aug. 2019 and will be cycling into town. Any changes or updates to this route that we would find useful? We are staying in the Byward Market area.

      1. Hi Kathleen. That’s great you are biking into town from the airport! To get to the Byward Market I suggest staying on the path along the north side of the canal, then crossing back over the canal at the pedestrian/bike bridge across from Ottawa U. This path ends about 2 blocks from the Byward Market. (normally you could ride all the way along the path that runs along the south side of the canal, rather than crossing at the Hartwell Locks but they are repairing a section of the canal wall closer to downtown and the detour isn’t great). Unfortunately there are no bike lanes from the end of Rideau Canal Pathway for the two blocks leading into the market area so, depending on the traffic, you might want to walk your bike along the sidewalk for these 2 blocks. I will try to post this route in June before you get here.

      2. Thanks for the info. Any update before August would be most appreciated. I am especially interested in the piece along Riverside drive. Is there still just the elevated shoulder and/or sidewalk? Happy summer pedalling.

      3. This post is great! Good directions so we shouldn’t get lost or run over. Thanks so much for posting it for us. We would love to buy you a beer for your efforts🚴‍♀️😎. We are in Ottawa Aug 25-28.

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