Biking down Nanny Goat Hill

Nanny Goat Hill is a rise of rock that cuts through a section of Centretown, separating Chinatown from Lebretton Flats. It is roughly defined by the yellow line on the map below and extends from Bronson Ave to Somerset St. A longstanding challenge for many cyclists heading north or west has been how to negotiate a safe way down this mini-precipice.

One of the few options that avoids having to dismount your bike is to take the steep hill down Bronson, identified by the red line on the above map. But Bronson is filled with speeding traffic at all times of the day flying blindly over the crest of the hill, except at rush hour when it tends to look like this:

Traffic jam on Nanny Goat Hill along Bronson
Traffic jam on Nanny Goat Hill along Bronson

The recently opened path link that cuts below Nanny Goat Hill Community Garden connecting the Laurier Bike Lanes to the Albert Street Bike Lanes, as per the purple line on the map, has done wonders to facilitate avoiding Bronson. It is also the safest option of all for those pulling a trailer. Here is a clip starting from the intersection of Laurier and Bronson down to the Albert Street Bike Lanes.

Another north-south option is to take the set of stairs that joins the upper and lower sections of Empress St, as shown in orange on the above map. This set of stairs has a trough along which you can push your bike.

Stairs with bike trough joining upper and lower sections of Empress St
Stairs with bike trough joining upper and lower sections of Empress St

Many cyclists ride east-west down Somerset, as per the light blue line on the map, however I’ve seen a number of cyclists get hit by drivers along this stretch. I’ve also seen a cyclist get doored by a someone getting out of their parked car, as well as many other close calls along Somerset. It’s a popular commute route where aggressive drivers have been known to threaten cyclists who dare to take the lane. Suffice to say it is not one I would recommend. UPDATE Augutst 2018For example, this cyclist getting hit by a driver, Somerset & Bronson.

My preferred east-west option is to carry one’s bike down the stairs that join the two sections of Primrose – see dark blue line on the map. While much safer than riding down Somerset, this set of stairs unfortunately doesn’t have a trough which makes it difficult for those with heavier bikes, loaded panniers or little kids in tow.

Stairs joining upper and lower sections of Primrose
Stairs joining upper and lower sections of Primrose

Et voila – a few options to get down or around this challenging geographical feature.

Author: ottawavelo


One thought on “Biking down Nanny Goat Hill”

  1. It has been awhile since I walked…not biked…around Nanny Goat Hill. I guess I am ready to bike the area. We lived in Lebreton Flats on Sherwood Street and when my mother walked us by Nanny Goat Hill (about 1951) I was thrilled with the name. It sounded so friendly. So next spring I’ll try some biking there. Nice music for the video.

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