The RA Centre is a great big wonderful exercise facility on the south side of the Rideau River, just west of Billings Bridge. Ironically, it’s a tricky place to bike to. A rider was looking for a route from Lebreton Flats to the RA Centre that avoids having to ride along Bronson. And who can blame him? Bronson is a major traffic artery the explodes into a six lane speedway south of the Rideau Canal. Between the Canal and Carleton University flexi-posts are installed in the summer to reinforce the presence of bike lanes along both side of Bronson, but south of Carleton there’s just a faded white painted line, or none at at all, particularly across long on/off ramps that cyclists are expected to coast through as drivers distractedly jostle each other at crazy speeds in their attempts to merge on and off Bronson.
Here is a description of the route identified by the blue line on the following map, which is similar to a previously posted winter route from the Glebe to the RA Centre, but the lack of ice & snow allows for a few shortcuts on the approach to the RA Centre.
The purple line (an option suggested by an old friend) follows the Rideau River Pathway once across Hog’s Back Falls. This more picturesque and less convoluted option has one tricky spot – getting across very busy Riverside Drive. Best place to cross is at the lights to Data Centre Road. Data Centre Road doesn’t have a bike lane but there is a sidewalk one can follow to the entrance of the RA Centre parking lot.
The route begins at the western tip of Lebreton Flats along the Ottawa River Pathway.
After riding along the Ottawa River Pathway for a short spell I turned inland along the Trillium Pathway that runs parallel to the O-Train tracks.
Across Carling Avenue the path goes from paved to gravel and remains so as far as Prince of Wales Drive. There are plans to pave this section, as well as improve the crossing once arrived at Prince of Wales. Until such time, another alternative is to walk along the sidewalk on the south side of Carling for a short distance to the bike paths that cut through Queen Juliana Park, as suggested by the orange line on the above map. This is a particularly good option on the return trip from the RA Centre.
I turned right along the Prince of Wales, which has a painted bike lane, and followed it a very short distance to the lights that took me across to the Arboretum.
I rode through the beautiful Arboretum along gravel paths which brought me to paved Rideau Canal Western pathway that skirts the edge of the canal up to the Hartwell Locks.
I rode up the hill to the furthest set of locks and carried my bike three steps to be able to push it across to the other side. If this crossing is really crowded I cross the second set of locks, but it has rarely been so busy for me to exercise this option.
On the opposite side of the canal the path continues all the way up to Mooneys Bay.
The path curls up and continues to the right alongside Hogs Back Road over the falls. I then continued straight along the path to the intersection at Riverside Drive.
I made my way to the opposite corner from where the path meets Riverside Drive.
That took me to a small desire line that cuts kitty corner away from the intersection into the Canada Post campus.
I followed the road around to the opposite north/east corner of the campus to a path, which in turn leads towards a short switch back heading up to Heron Road. Arrived at Heron, I followed the sidewalk to the lights, crossed there, and headed back a short distance to the path on the opposite side.
This path curls around the now fenced off grounds of the old CBC headquarters. Part way around the curl there’s a sharp turn to the right that leads to a small pillbox shaped building.
That’s the entrance port to a very cool underground passageway beneath Bronson Avenue. It requires carrying one’s bike down a few steps. The passageway pops up in mirror fashion on the other side of Bronson.
Once popped out the other side, I followed a concrete path that traced the contour of a very interesting modernist building.
This eventually brought me to a paved path that went down to the back of the RA Centre.
Once at the bottom of the path one can ride around the building to access any of the many entrances.