Biking to Algonquin College from Alta Vista

As the new school year begins many students are looking for a bike route to their campus. Susan requested one to Algonquin College from her home in the Alta Vista ward. Here’s what I came up with.

Our ride begins at the corner of Colson Avenue and Saunderson Road. Head west along Colson, a quiet residential street lined with big trees and a beautiful leafy canopy.

Riding along Colson Avenue

Turn left onto Haig Drive then cross Dauphin Road to get to Portage Ave. Portage becomes a dead-end for cars but merges into a bike path that runs along the edge of Lynda Lane Park.

Bike path along the edge of Lynda Lane Park

This leads you to Lynda Lane which is a slightly busier street but there is a bi-directional bike lane on the western side of the road that brings you a block over to Pleasant Park Road.

Bike path along Lynda lane to Pleasant Park Road

Pleasant Park Road is a busy street that cuts east-west through Alta Vista. Many cyclists tend to use it because it is direct and the lanes are wide enough to accomodate a car and bike. There are also a couple of stop signs that help calm down speedy drivers. Unfortunately it doesn’t have bike lanes.

Biking along Pleasant Park Road

An alternative to riding along Pleasant Park Road would be to cycle down Billings Avenue, which is a calmer street that runs parallel to Pleasant Park as far as Rodney Crescent (see orange line on the above map), however it doesn’t have traffic lights to get across busy Alta Vista Drive.

Pleasant Park dips down to where it meets Riverside Drive. There are lights to get you across Riverside to a bike path that links to the Rideau River East Pathway.

Path across from Riverside leading to Rideau River Eastern Pathway

Ride along the very picturesque Rideau River Eastern Pathway to Bank Street for a few hundred yards. This brings us to the the worst section of our route – crossing the Bank Street bridge over the Rideau River. One may chose to ride in the roadway but that would force you into in a narrow car commuter artery that barely has enough room for the existing four lanes of impatient drivers. There are sharrows (a bike logo with a couple of pointy lines) painted on the surface of the outside lanes that are barely visible. Research has shown sharrows to be worse than useless, they are dangerous as they instil a false sense of confidence in cyclists by suggesting they are safe bike infrastructure when they aren’t. A safer alternative to riding in the roadway over the Bank Street bridge is to walk your bike along the protected sidewalk. One small consolation is this bridge isn’t very long.

View heading north over Bank St Bridge shows two options – riding on the Road ….. or walking your bike along the protected sidewalk. I recommend the sidewalk.
Narrowness of Bank St Bridge over Rideau River, view heading south

Sadly, safe options for biking across the Rideau River in this part of town do not exist. I’ve shown an alternative route on the map at the bottom of this post that continues along the Rideau River eastern Pathway up to Hogs Back Drive, but Hogs Back Bridge is closed for repairs requiring you to walk your bike across the boardwalk detour over the canal. While this detour is nice and accomodating, the time required to access and negotiate it is most likely the same as walking your bike across the Bank Street Bridge. Also, working your way to and through the intersection of Prince of Wales Drive and Hogs Back Drive is a dangerous mess.

So, back to the suggested route. Once across the bridge take the path that circles under the bridge and up past the Olympic medal display to Warrington Drive.

Path continues past the Olympic medal interpretive display

Continue along Warrington Drive, a nice quiet street that runs along the river, then turn right onto Wendover Street which brings you to Cameron Avenue. Cameron is a one way heading east, however there is a bike lane heading west. Very convenient. Follow this path all the way to Brewer Park.

Bike lane heading west along Cameron Ave

Ride along the path that cuts through Brewer Park to the lights that take you across Bronson Avenue.

Lights across Bronson Avenue to the Carleton University campus. Whoever’s at the wheel in the red car is a lousy driver.

Once across Bronson cut through the Carleton University campus over to Library Road as per the above map. The only tricky spot heading across campus is the tunnel under the O-Train tracks. It’s a little narrow and has a sharp turn to the right at the western end.

Tunnel under the train tracks

Take the paved link from Library Road to the crossing at Colonel By Drive.

Paved path off Library Road to the crossing of Colonel By Drive

Once across Colonel By push your bike up the ramp to the canal.

Stairs with ramp to push bike up to the canal locks

Getting across the canal requires carrying your bike up and down a couple of steps and pushing your bike over the locks.

Crossing the Hartwell Locks

Take the path perpendicular to the canal that leads to a service road which doubles as the start of the Experimental Farm Pathway.

Path perpendicular to the locks that takes you to the service road (take either the dirt path or the paved one these cyclists are using)
Start of the Experimental Farm Pathway along the service road

Now you will be following the Experimental Farm Pathway for quite a distance all the way to Woodroffe Avenue. It is mostly paths with some stretches along quiet roads with a wonderful mix of scenery. Fortunately the pathway is quite well signed.

Sections of the Experimental Farm Pathway between Prince of Wales Drive and Fisher Avenue

The only messy spot is the crossing at Fisher Avenue. Fisher is a busy street that requires lights to get across, but the crossing doesn’t allign with the path on the west side of the Fisher and the trail sign isn’t visible from the lights.

Experimental Farm Pathway continues a short distance north of the crossing at Fisher

There also isn’t a bike lane heading north to get you from the crossing to where the path continues. This forces one to take to the sidewalk or ride along the space between the sidewalk and oncoming bike lane.

View north along Fisher to where the Experimental Farm Pathway continues west

So, the Experimental Farm Pathway at Fisher is a bit of a mess, but once back on the path on the other side of Fisher things continue smoothly westwardly.

Experimental Farm Pathway between Fisher and Woodroffe Ave

The Experimental Farm Pathway ends at Woodroffe Avenue. There are lights to get you across this very busy street. On the other side of Woodroffe the Watts Creek Pathway continues just to the left of the fire station.

Arrow showing where Watts Creek Pathway begins across Woodroffe Ave beside the fire station. My panorama camera setting created those teeny-tiny cars.

The path dips down along the transit way. Take the exit off the pathway where the sign points to Baseline.

Exit off Watts Creek Pathway towards Baseline

This path then crosses the transitway then goes under Baseline Road. Things get a little tricky just south of Baseline where the path circles around an OC Transpo parking lot. Most cyclists don’t bother with this mini detour and just ride infront of the bus parking .

You will see the Algonquin Campus on the other side of Woodroffe. I continued along the path beside the transitway and crossed over to the campus at College Avenue.

Et voila!

Here is the alternative route that continues along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway at and crosses the river at Hogs Back versus at Bank Street.

Ride to Champlain Park to see an outdoor exhibit on Bur Oaks AND a whole lotta Shakespeare going on!

A while back I posted a winter bike route to Champlain Park where one can check out a fascinating outdoor exhibit describing the few remaining majestic Bur oaks within the community that are descendants of an ancient Bur Oak Forest along the Ottawa River.  This month the park is host to a couple of works by Mr Shakespeare! August 9th A Company of Fools will be performing their popular production of Romeo and Juliet, while earlier in the month you could catch Bear & Co’s performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Here’s a summer route to Champlain Park starting from Centretown that follows bike paths pretty much the entire way.

A Company of Fools production of Romeo and Juliet (photo: Andrew Alexander)

Outdoor exhibit on the Bur Oaks on the west side of the Champlain Park Field House

Et voila!

Bur Oak canopy, Champlain Park