Biking from the Ottawa Airport to the Byward Market

Kathleen will be flying in to visit Ottawa in August. After happening upon my previously posted route to the airport from Centretown she enquired about a bike route heading in the opposite direction from the airport to the Byward Market. Here’s what I came up with.

Once off the plane you will most likely be retrieving your bike from the oversized baggage counter located behind this sculpture of Sir John A. MacDonald and Sir George-Étienne Cartier. The official name of the airport is the Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport after these two gentlemen who played prominent roles in the founding of Canada as a country.

Bring a pump and any necessary tools to re-assemble your bike as they don’t have any to lend at the counter.

MacDonald & Cartier watching folks retrieve their luggage


Exit the terminal on the same level through the doors opposite the oversized baggage counter and take an immediate left along the sidewalk past the line-up of parked taxis.

Head north along sidewalk as soon as you step out of the terminal

This sidewalk leads you to a no-cars-allowed laneway with an opening for cyclists and pedestrians. Ride along this winding laneway to where it ends at a parking lot.

Opening to get you on the laneway

Cut through the parking lot to get to Paul-Benoit Driveway.

Cutting through the parking lot to Paul-Benoit Driveway

There is a paved path on the west side (your left) of this two lane street that runs straight all the way to Hunt Club Road, apart for a short section of concrete sidewalk near Hunt Club.

Path along Paul-Benoit Driveway

Cross Hunt Club Road onto Bowesville Road. Bowesville cuts through the Ottawa Hunt and Golf Club. Hunting has long been terminated on the grounds of this private club so don’t worry about getting accidentally shot but keep your eyes peeled for golf carts as they still have right of way.

Start of Bowesville Road after crossing Hunt Club Road

At the northern end of the golf club there is a black gate with an opening to the left allowing cyclists and pedestrians to continue along Bowesville Road.

Path around gate to continue along Bowesville Road

Bowesville Road ends at Uplands Drive. I’m not a big fan of Uplands Drive as many drivers love to speed along this busy road that still doesn’t have bike lanes but it’s a short block to Riverside Drive where one can use the sidewalk to get there.

Uplands looking towards Riverside (traffic lights) from Bowesville

Along Riverside Drive there is a paved bit between the road and the sidewalk. These often exist along speedy roads throughout the capital. These strips are not maintained as a bike lane but this one is in OK shape. There is a bit of concrete sidewalk to deal with before it starts, as well as in front of a couple of bus stops.

1) Asphalt strip starts a bit beyond the Esso station. 2) Condition of strip is mostly like this. 3) Strip merges into sidewalk in front of a couple of bus stops.

The worst section of the asphalt strip along Riverside Drive is  just before Quesnel Drive.

Worst patch of asphalt strip along Riverside just before Quesnel Drive


Beyond Quesnel Drive the asphalt strip dissapears for long sections so I turn right onto quiet Quesnel Drive. There are some sweet examples of mid-century-modern and 7o’s style houses along this calm residential street.

Mid-century modern and 70’s style houses along Quesnel Drive

Quesnel is a dead end but there is a short path that links it to Upper Otterson Place, another quiet street.

Path from Quesnel to Upper Otterson

Upper Otterson Place also becomes a dead end but there is another short path that links it to Otterson Drive. I don’t know if these two Otterson streets were ever connected. Both were named after the Ottersons who settled here from County Tipperary in Ireland. These streets cut through their farms back in 1879.

Path connecting the two Otterson streets

Otterson Drive ends at Walkley Road and continues across the intersection as Springland Drive. This intersection has traffic lights. I then turned left onto Mooney’s Bay Place which took me to another set of traffic lights leading across Riverside into Mooney’s Bay Park.

There is a bike path that cuts through Mooney’s Bay Park. If it’s a hot day you could stop at the beach for a quick swim.

Path through Mooney’s Bay Park

The last bit of the path through the park is a packed dirt road before arriving at Hog’s Back Road. Turn left along the path over the bridge along Hog’s Back Road.

Path along bridge over the Rideau River at Hogs Back Falls

Don’t cross the second bridge over the canal, instead follow the path that curls under the bridge and becomes the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway. This pathway normally continues all the way dowtown beside the canal and ending just a few blocks outside the Byward Market however a section of the path closer to downtown is closed for major repairs to the canal wall. There is an official signed detour if you choose to stay on the eastern side of the canal but this detour is horrendous with dangerous inadequate crossing lights across speeding Colonel By Drive with cars flying on and off at Main Street. Instead, before reaching the official detour, cross the new Flora bike/pedestrian bridge over to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.

Bike bridge over the canal near Clegg St (Flora Bridge)

Continue north along the bike path and cross back to the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway over the bike/pedestrian bridge at Somerset Street.

Bike bridge over the canal at Somerset (Corkstown Bridge)


View down the canal from the Corkstown Bridge Update Sept ’19: All those love locks have been removed.

Continue along the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway to where it pretty much ends at the intersection of Colonel By Drive and Daly Avenue. Cross Colonel By at the lights.

Canal Pathway ends at the intersection at Colonel By and Daly. Cross to the other side of Colonel By at these lights.

The Byward Market is just a couple of blocks further north along Colonel By Drive which turns into Sussex Drive but there is no safe bike infrastructure to get you to the Market from the intersection. Accessing the Byward Market safely by bike is a problem. There is a sidewalk one can push your bike along from the Daly & Colonel By intersection for the few blocks if you want to avoid riding in tight traffic.

View north along Colonel By Drive from the Daly intersection

Et voila – have a great visit!



Author: ottawavelo


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