Brendan was enquiring about a bike route from the Ottawa Youth Hostel to the intersection of Rochester and Poplar Streets. Here’s what I came up with.
The Ottawa Youth Hostel is pretty fantastic. It lives in the 150+ year old Carleton County gaol right downtown. Unfortunately it is located on an island with all forms of speeding vehicles circling around it including transport trucks.
So, first challenge is how to ingress/egress from this hive of aggressive traffic. After exploring all options, I decided to take the set of stairs up to the Mackenzie St Bridge, located right beside the hostel parking (hélas, this route doesn’t work so well for those with trailers or loaded panniers).
Having carried my bike up the flight of stairs, I headed west over the bridge along the sidewalk to the signalized crosswalk. There are bike lanes along the Mackenzie King bridge but they hug the centre meridian. Half way across the signalized crossing one may choose to get on the bike lane heading west, as suggested by the orange line on the above map, but the lane disappears once arrived at Elgin, a busy 6 lane street with speedy traffic and no bike lanes – enough to discourage many an intrepid pedalist.
A safer option I followed was to walk across the aforementioned signalized crossing (back to the blue line on the above map), and continue west along the sidewalk on the other side towards the stairs that go down to Confederation park.
Once arrived at the bottom of the stairs, I rode diagonally through the park to the corner of Laurier and Elgin.
The wonderful segregated Laurier Bike Lane begins on the west side of Elgin.
I followed Laurier to the end where it veers south and becomes quiet Cambridge St. I then turned west on Primrose, and south on Arthur along which there is a traffic light to get across busy Somerset St.
South of Somerset is a web of one-way and two-way streets that require a bit of navigating to arrive at the intersection of Poplar & Rochester, as per the above map.
Heading back downtown I followed the same route, apart from the few deviations in purple. The short stretches of Rochester, Booth and Somerset on the way back can get pretty busy especially around rush hour, so walking these may be preferable.
Members of the community surrounding Bayshore Park came up with a great idea – to build a brick oven for people to come together and cook. The city has a Better Neighbourhoods Program to help support such initiatives. On Saturday I packed up some prepared bun dough and biked over to the park to attend one of their scheduled oven lightings, and it was fantastic.
The blue line on the map below describes the route I followed to get there. Purple lines are deviations I took on the way back.
Our adventure begins at the base of the hill leading up from the O-Train path to Somerset St, both of which are cleared of snow! If anyone needs a bike route to get to this starting point, send me your cross street and I would be pleased to figure it out.
I crossed Somerset and followed the cleared bike lane to the west side of the bridge. UPDATE: On January 5th this bike lane and the one on the opposite side of street were not cleared of snow, and it is uncertain when or if they will be plowed. When they aren’t cleared I take to the sidewalk, as cars tend to speed when heading up and over this bridge.
The bike lane ends suddenly on the other side so I took the short set of stairs to the right, down to Breezehill Avenue.
I then wove my way along quiet streets through the Hintonburg and Wellington Village neighbourhoods, all the way to the intersection of Scott Street and Carleton Avenue where there are lights to safely cross speedy Scott Street. I then followed the cleared multi-use path that runs along the north side of Scott.
The path continues to be cleared beyond Churchill where Scott ends, as far the parkway along the river. The path that runs along the south side of the parkway isn’t cleared, however there is a very well trampled desire-line path to Fraser Avenue that was easy to follow, especially with my studded front tire.
I biked up quiet Fraser and across Richmond road at the lights to access the multi-use path that runs between Richmond and Byron all the way to New Orchard Avenue.
I crossed back over to the north side of Richmond at New Orchard Avenue where there are traffic lights. The bike lane heading west along Richmond starts at New Orchard, however the level of snow clearing varied. Between New Orchard and the bridge it wasn’t great, however the lane heading over the bridge was cleared.
Once over the bridge I turned onto Regina Lane that runs parallel to Richmond for a short spell. There’s a great mural part way down the lane. More detailed photos of the work can be found here.
I continued along residential streets through the Lincoln Heights neighbourhood, and took advantage of a small opening in the fence along Greenview Avenue to access Farrow Street.
The final challenge was to get to Bayshore Drive without having to ride along busy Carling Avenue. This required following a couple of short, well traversed but not cleared, pedestrian paths between Kempster to Wylie avenue and Oakley to Birchdale avenue.
Then it was across Carling to Bayshore Drive, along Woodridge Crescent, and into Bayshore Park where sits the communal oven. When I arrived there were a whole bunch of wonderful people cooking and sharing an assortment of dishes. Tom, the head baker of the day cooked up the little buns I had prepared and they turned out perfect! Everyone was very pleased.
To know more about how the oven came to be check out this CBC interview with John McDougall the oven builder and Mete Pamir, one of the community organizers. They also have a Facebook page with more history.
Time to head home. On the return trip I couldn’t ride back along Regina Lane because it’s a one way heading west. Closer to Centretown, I avoided Breezehill because it’s hard to see cars coming when crossing Bayswater heading east, as the two streets meet on the inside of a curve. Crossing Somerset at the top of the Breezehill stairs to get to the bike lane heading east is a bit tricky as well, as it’s hard to see cars coming over the crest of the bridge.
A fellow cyclist is in need of a winter bike commute route from Barrhaven to the corner of Merivale and Baseline. That’s because the bike path along Greenbank which he follows on his summer commute is full of snow. The green line on the map is his regular summer route. Here’s a description of a winter route I plotted and tested a couple of days after this season’s first big snow fall, identified by the blue line on the map. I started from Merivale & Baseline. The purple line is a slight variation I took on the return trip.
Our journey begins in the parking lot at the end of Granton Avenue that fronts onto Clyde. Granton is accessible via a short, well trodden path to the left of this photo.
I wove my way along quiet residential streets to always-busy Meadowlands Drive. There isn’t a traffic light where Meadowlands intersects Sullivan Avenue, however there is a cross signal half a block east in front of the school which I took advantage of on my return trip as there was no let up in traffic. I also had to use the sidewalks along Meadowlands to get to and from the crosswalk.
I continued down Sullivan and turned west on Novice towards Woodroffe Avenue.
The biggest obstacle to commuters heading south of Ottawa are the two sets of east/west railway tracks. It’s a challenge to choose which of the minimal number of places to get across are the safest. On this route the crossing of the first set of tracks happens along the busy six lane Woodroffe underpass. There are bike lanes along Woodroffe, which were mostly cleared, except for one spot heading south where it suddenly was filled with snow for a short stretch. Up until that spot the sidewalk wasn’t cleared, but now it was, thus the snow in the bike lane. There are bus lanes beside the bike lanes and there weren’t any buses coming up behind me so I managed to bike around the short section of snow filled bike lane. If there were buses roaring up behind me I probably would have chosen the sidewalk.
I continued along the Woodroffe bike lane which was mostly cleared, however the crossing at Hunt Club Road was pretty treacherous with six lanes of impatient traffic meeting six other lanes of impatient traffic. I chose to avoid this intersection on the way back (see purple line on map) which I’ll describe in more detail further down the post. I’ve also been told by a local cyclist that the Woodroffe bike lane between Knoxdale and Hunt Club is often filled with snow due to the limited space between the road and the concrete sound barrier. The purple line detour avoids this as well.
I was pleased to get off of Woodroffe at the entrance to the Nepean Sportsplex, and onto the CLEARED multi-use path that runs along the east side of Woodroffe all the way to Fallowfield Road. And it’s a pretty spectacular ride too. There’s a section that floats through a tall pine wooded area, while the rest is mostly farmland.
There’s a bit of an obstacle course where the path crosses the second set of tracks, but it’s very manageable and safe if navigated slowly.
I crossed at the intersection of Woodroffe and Fallowfield over to the cleared bike path that runs along the north side of Fallowfield to Via Park Place.
At Via Park Place I crossed at the lights over to the very well cleared path that continues along Fallowfield before veering south alongside the Transitway and train tracks.
I got off the path at Berrigan Drive and followed it across Greenbank Road. Greenbank is a busy street, and when there are signs warning drivers about a red light camera as you approach, one can imagine what a frantic intersection it promises to be. I didn’t find it too crazy or dangerous, but I did consider the sidewalk.
I then rode along Wessex and Exeter Road to the round-about at Jockvale Road. I was very pleased to notice a cleared path running along the south side of Jockvale Road, which I followed over the train tracks.
I was impressed to see Barrhaven United Church thriving on another form of heavenly energy – large sections of their roof are covered with solar panels.
Not far beyond the train tracks I turned off the path along this short cleared link that brought me to Pickwick Drive.
I then wove my way along quiet residential streets to my final destination – the corner of Flanders St and Peacock Crescent, deep in the heart of Barrhaven.
Now I had to get back before it got dark! Here’s a view of the farm along the Woodroffe path.
Here’s a description of the detour I took to avoid the crazy Woodroffe/Hunt Club intersection (purple line on the above map): I turned onto the path that runs parallel to the entrance to the Nepean Sportsplex.
The bike path ends at the edge of the parking lot. I biked through the expansive lot to the north/east corner where the path continues for a short distance to a signalized crosswalk that is MUCH more civilized than attempting to cross Hunt Club along Woodroffe.
I then rode along residential streets, popping out onto Woodroffe at Medhurst Drive. Once again the bike lanes were partially cleared. The sidewalk was completely cleared.
Once beyond the train tracks I turned off Woodroffe onto Norice, and retraced my route all the way back to the little path at the end of Granton Avenue that leads to the building at the corner of Baseline and Clyde. Ta-dah!
A friend was wondering whether there was a safe winter bike route from The Glebe to the RA Centre. There is, as per the map below, but it’s quite circuitous – sadly so, when you consider how physically close the two destinations are from each other. At the time of the RA’s conception, driving was the de facto mode of transpo and, by default, still is. As we wait for the powers-that-be to bring our city’s cycling infrastructure up to par, I suggest the following as the safest winter bike route to get there. I also recommend a studded front tire for winter riding.
Winter cycling along Bronson is to be avoided. I crossed Bronson at Fifth Ave where there are traffic lights.
The other side of Bronson becomes a pleasant meander along Madawaska Drive to Commissioner’s Park which explodes with tulips come springtime. A minimal number of city paths are cleared throughout the winter which often forces one to rely on shared Desire Lines, i.e. trampled down paths popular with pedestrians regardless of whether plowers were instructed to clear them or not. I followed this one that cuts across the park to the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Driveway. This path is proportionally more trampled relative to the skate-ability of the canal.
On the other side of the driveway I rode a short distance along the plowed-and-salted Rideau Canal Western Pathway to Preston Street. I crossed at the lights to the usually cleared bike lane along Prince of Wales and followed it for a short distance to the lights at the entrance to the Arboretum. If biking along Prince of Wales seems (understandably) spooky, the sidewalk between Preston and the entrance to the Arboretum is clear, and usually empty.
Once safely in the Arboretum I rode along the cleared/not salted path that ends at the bottom of the hill that officially isn’t to be used for toboganning.
I then relied on some of winter cyclists best friends – dog walkers! The Arboretum is extremely popular with dog walkers who, within hours of a snow fall, recreate a network of well trampled paths. My destination was the canal locks across from Carleton University which can be traversed 12 months of the year. The paved path along the canal proper isn’t always trampled flat, however there is one that goes up through the Fletcher Wildlife Garden which hi-lites the beauty of Desire Lines. They exist where people want to go. In the winter, dog walkers park in the Fletcher Wildlife Garden parking lot. From there they work their way down through the arboretum, not along the official paved path that hugs the canal, but along the old service road that leads down from the parking lot.
Another reason I like to follow this route is the passion the Fletcher Wildlife Garden maintenance crew has for this microcosm of varied natural environments. Around every corner along the myriad of intimate paths they have created initiatives that engage visitors to the subtleties of the surrounding natural environment, like this insect hotel.
I crossed at the locks and followed the Rideau Canal Eastern Pathway, which is cleared-&-sanded, all the way to Hogs Back.
The path up and over the falls is salted as well, as is the path along Hog’s Back Road to Riverside Drive.
Brookfield Road across Riverside Drive is quite wide and there is usually ample space along the shoulder to ride along even in the winter. Drivers do tend to speed along this stretch of road, so the option of using the cleared and usually vacant sidewalk is a possibility.
I then crossed at the roundabout over to the cleared & salted path that winds down beside the transit station and up to Heron Road. I then crossed at the lights at Heron, and continued along the equally cleared and salted path behind the Sir Leanord Tilley building.
While driving to the airport I’ve often noticed two small pillbox shaped pavilions on either side of Bronson which I assumed to be some sort of utility stations, but are actually access points to an all-season pedestrian tunnel under Bronson. The wide circular stairwell has very shallow steps and ample room to either push or carry ones bike.
Once on the east side of Bronson, I cut along the salted path towards the tall government buildings. I rode around to the other side through the parking lot and found myself on quiet Data Centre Road, which goes down the hill towards Riverside Drive.
Before reaching busy Riverside Drive, there’s a turn to the RA Centre.
The national capital region has a fine network of recreational pathways used by many cyclists throughout the spring, summer and fall to get to work, however only a small portion of the paths are maintained throughout the winter. This results in many cyclists having to abandon their regular ride in to work throughout the snowy months, or attempt to find a safe alternative route. BK was enquiring about a route from Lincoln Fields in the west end of town to Colonnade Road further south, since sections of the Pinecrest Creek Pathway aren’t cleared of snow. Here’s what I discovered.
Our journey begins at the intersection of Assaly Road and Richmond Road. I rode through the intersection, then around the Lincoln Fields Shopping Centre through the parking lot.
There are traffic lights on the south side of the shopping centre to get across busy Carling Avenue over to Connaught Avenue.
Connaught eventually veers east just before the Queensway and becomes Roman Avenue. There’s a path that cuts between houses at the eastern corner of Roman Ave. This path was cleared but not salted for a short 40m section. Beyond that the path was both cleared and salted.
The cleared/salted section of path follows alongside the Queensway to the OC Transpo transit stop. I carried my bike down the stairwell one level to the Transitway. I could have taken the elevator.
This allowed me to access the Pinecrest Creek pathway, which is plowed and salted to Iris St.
I wasn’t expecting to see the Pinecrest Pathway cleared and salted south of Iris St, but it was, and, as one cheerful cyclist riding in the opposite direction confirmed, all the way to Algonquin College! In hindsight I suppose this is done to provide students access from the transit station. That’s a guess. Regardless, it was a pleasant surprise.
Things get a little wacky along the path just beyond Baseline. In snowless conditions, most cyclists ride along the wide sidewalk in front of the transit stop entrance (towards the left on the photo below) to access the path on the opposite side, versus following the official route (off to the right on the photo below) that veers around the transit stop. Looks like the sidewalk is plowed but not salted, so I took the official path.
To get across Woodroffe Ave I left the path and crossed at the intersection opposite College Avenue.
I rode along College and turned off the path that accesses Ryan Farm Park. I was expecting the path through Ryan Farm Park to be cleared & salted as it is one of the few access points to the campus from the huge residential area just to the south where many students dwell. It was, but only to the edge of the park. There is a path that appears to be plowed/not salted along the western edge of the park, but the predominant desire line which I am confident is trampled flat within hours of a snowfall by hundreds of students, cuts right through the park. I relied on my studded front tire to get me across safely.
I then wove may way along quiet residential streets, eventually accessing Meadowlands Drive from Rowley Avenue. I often hear mention of Meadowlands in radio traffic reports, which is usually indicative of a pretty busy street. It was indeed, however the single lanes are quite wide. Not too encouraging for winter riding I realize, as that’s where snow gets piled. This route follows Meadowlands for just half a block, and the cleared sidewalk was safe enough to walk your bike. Or, one could ride along the sidewalk if there are no pedestrians, but I’m not suggesting anyone do that.
I then rode south along Perry St as far as Meadowlands Public School where there is a short cleared & salted path I took to access Glenridge Rd.
I followed Glenridge to Viewmount Drive. The section of Viewmount from Glenridge to Merivale is lousy. Minimal shoulder and lots of impatient traffic. My route followed Viewmount for an extended block. I took to the sidewalk.
Viewmount isn’t as bad east of Merivale. There’s a generous shoulder to ride along half a block beyond Merivale. I turned south at the intersection of Grant Carman Drive, which leads to a bike path. This path, which accesses Colonnade Road, was cleared, not salted. At a distance of 325m to Colonnade it’s a fair distance to push one’s bike. Once again my studded front tire kept me upright.
I would not recommend riding along Merivale to access Colonnade. I consider it to be one of Ottawa’s most dangerous roads to bike along in any season.
Riding this route has made me realize sections of recreational paths are cleared if they provide a pedestrian link, for example to the OC Tranpo stations or to schools. Also, the extent of clearing seems to depend on whose jurisdiction or property the paths are on. It’s all a bit unpredictable, but definitely worth exploring in search of a safe winter bike commute route.
The raised and segregated bike track that runs along both sides of Churchill Avenue between Byron and Carling recently opened to the public. There’s a very good description of it right here. This morning I went and tested it out. The video below the map follows its chemin heading north from Carling.
I found it to be a very civilized form of bike infrastructure.
The Sawmill Creek Pathway extension is completed and it’s fantastic! It now connects to the Brookfield Path at it’s northern end and runs south as far as Hunt Club Road. I’ve hi-lited the pathway in green. The blue line is the route I followed to get to and from Centretown.
Here’s where the Sawmill Creek Pathway begins along the Overbrook Path, just east of the train tracks.
The path ends at Hunt Club. Unfortunately the transition from here to anywhere else is pretty rough.
On a previous occasion I turned east on Hunt Club to get to South Keys mall. To do so I stayed on the sidewalk for a short distance before cutting left through the parking lot just beyond the train bridge.
UPDATE, Summer 2015 – The Airport Parkway Bridge opposite South Key Mall opened in 2014. See this post for more.An access to South Keys Mall has been created via a short pedestrian tunnel under the O-Train tracks a bit south of the pedestrian bridge. Signs are confusing but I checked with OC Transpo – bikes are allowed through the tunnel but walked, not ridden.
On this occasion, I chose to head west along Hunt Club. the transition across the transit way and Aviation Parkway off ramps was rough. Once beyond these spots there is a bike lane, however it doesn’t start for a few hundred yards. All very complex, so I prepared this little video to help explain. The video starts where the Sawmill Creek Pathway ends.
So apart from this nasty little section, the extension of the Sawmill Creek Pathway and the bike lane further along Hunt Club allows for a fine link over to Uplands Drive and areas south of the city.