Bike commute from Kenson Park to Overbrook

A number of studies have shown that a large proportion of commuters want to bike to work but hesitate to do so for lack of a safe route to follow. I have an open offer to scope out a safe bike route to anyone within the national capital region. All I need is two cross streets – one to start from and a final destination. Halden took me up on my offer, starting from the intersection of Woodroffe and Iris at the edge of the Kenson Park neighbourhood in the west end, to the intersection of Vanier Parkway and Coventry Road in the Overbrook neighbourhood. He’s already a regular bike commuter but thought it would be interesting to see the route I scope out compared to his. Me too! Here’s what I came up with.

The Blue line is the one I recommend- a very picturesque route almost entirely along bike paths. The red line is a short cut that shaves 15 minutes off but traverses the not-so-safe Bank Street Bridge over the Rideau River. More about that later. The green line shows the route Halden takes. After crossing the locks at Carleton he rides along the canal and cuts over to the Rideau River along Graham Avenue, Lees Avenue, then through the Ottawa U Lees campus. Lees is a pretty busy road so one’s comfort level with riding in traffic would be an important factor in choosing this route.

And away we go! First I headed east on Iris.

Nice quiet street. Easy on the Iris.
Nice quiet street. Easy on the Iris.

The Experimental Farm Pathway crosses Iris. I got on the path and continued eastwardly.

Experimental Farm Pathway at Iris
Experimental Farm Pathway at Iris

This interesting building is located just south of where the path crosses Maitland. I used to think it was some sort of power station associated with the hydro towers that ran past it. Well it is a power station but of a very different sort. It’s the Trinity United Church designed by the late Ottawa architect James Strutt.

Trinity Church
Trinity Church

The path winds up and over Carlington Heights, then down through the farm.

Branches budding on the edge of the farm.
Branches budding on the edge of the farm.

Things get a little screwy where the path meets Fisher. To continue along the path on the other side requires riding south along Fisher for a hundred yards or so and crossing at the lights, like so.

Crossing Fisher Ave
Crossing Fisher Ave

The path becomes Cow Lane, and then turns right on Morningside Lane.

Corner of Cow and Morningside Lanes
Corner of Cow and Morningside Lanes

Midway down Morningside Lane there is a small road on your left that takes you to an intersection with traffic lights across Prince of Wales Drive. The path continues along the road on the other side of Prince of Wales, and ends by the canal locks across from Carleton U. I pushed my bikes over the top set of locks.

Up and over the locks
Up and over the locks

On the other side of the canal I followed the path to the right (blue arrow). The red arrow is the way you’d go for the alternative route on the above map across the Carleton campus and Bronson, through Ottawa South and across the dreaded Bank St Bridge. The green arrow points is the direction Halden takes.

Route options on the south side of the canal
Route options on the south side of the canal
Biking up the canal (the blue arrow direction)
Biking up the canal (the blue arrow direction)

The path pops out at Mooney’s Bay and crosses over the river.

Bridge over troubled waters
Bridge over troubled waters

On the other side of the bridge the path dipsy-do’s back under the road.

Follow the painted yellow line
Path going back under Hogs Back Road

The scenery is quite spectacular all the way down along the path through Vincent Massey Park.

Rail bridge the O-Train takes to get across the river
Rail bridge the O-Train takes to get across the river

This path is called the Rideau River Eastern Pathway which I followed almost entirely to our final destination. It is a very pleasant path however there is one dangerous spot, and that’s the intersection of Bank St and the pathway/Riverside Drive. Riverside Drive is a four lane speedway. Cars crossing the Bank St Bridge heading south often try to hurriedly turn right onto Riverside on the red without looking to their right, regardless of the sign. As such they threaten cyclists and pedestrians on the path as they nervously try to rush around the corner, for example this car at the intersection this Sunday that came to a screeching halt well over the stop line.

Screech
Screech

The ghost bike at this same corner is a commemoration to Meg Dussault who was struck and killed by a cement truck in July 2013. UPDATE: May 2016The ghost bike has been removed by the city.

Ghost bike
Ghost bike

On the secondary route option suggested by the red line, crossing the bridge is what is proposed. There are sharrows painted on the road, suggesting cyclists share the road. This Muddy Bike post (click here) shows that this is an ineffective option, and I believe a dangerous one as it suggests this is a safe area for cyclists when it is quite the opposite. So, when my son and I biked to Billings Bridge Museum on Sunday we walked our bike on the sidewalk.

So, what to do once you get to the corner? I don’t move until I am sure the driver stopped at the corner sees me and seems aware that I have the right of way to cross.

OK, enough on the dangerous bridge, time to continue down the pathway.

Rideau River Eastern Pathway west of Bank St
Rideau River Eastern Pathway west of Bank St

They’ve re-opened the path under the Queensway where they are doing construction, but it’s through scaffolding and only wide enough for one bike so I went pretty slow in case a rider was coming the other way, giving me time to react.

Path under Queensway
Path under Queensway

Getting close to our destination, I turned off the path at the sign pointing to River Road.

Exit
Exit

I turned right off River Road onto Presland, and was pleased as punch to discover a pedestrian cross signal to get across the Vanier Parkway.

Crosswalk signal at Presland and Vanier Parkway
Crosswalk signal at Presland and Vanier Parkway

I continued along Presland for a jot until I turned right onto Forestlane. Part way down Forestlane there’s a small opening that allows you to pop out almost right at our final destination.

Opening in the wall
Opening in the wall

And There it is – the intersection of Vanier Parkway and Coventry Road!

Van&Convent

Winter biking from Chinatown to Sandy Hill

On Saturday I biked over to Sandy Hill to visit the studio of my friends Janet and Mitchell to see their latest paintings and sculptures. Here’s the route I followed across town and back. Blue line is how I got there. Purple line is how I got back.

The Laurier bike lane heading east will be kept clear of snow for the winter. Most of the bike lane heading west is to be kept clear as well, however the section heading west between Bays St and Bronson had lots of snow piled in it. I joined the bike lane at Bronson and followed it as far east as it goes to Elgin St.

View down Laurier Bike Lane from Bronson Ave
View down Laurier Bike Lane from Bronson Ave

UPDATE Sept 2014 – the Laurier Bike Lane has been extended east of Elgin in front of the Provincial court house and City Hall.

Laurier Bike Lane extension
Laurier Bike Lane extension

The Rideau Canal pathway is also cleared in the winter.

Canal Pathway
Canal Pathway

I turned off the pathway at the car-less bridge over the canal at the end of Somerset St W. Be careful crossing this bridge as it can be icy even with the spattering of sand strewn across its path.

Bridge over the canal at the end of Somerset
Bridge over the canal at the end of Somerset

Here is a view from the top of the bridge, including just a few of the many love locks hanging from the railing.

Love Locks
Love Locks

I crossed the driveway at the crosswalk and follow the path under the transitway bridge right up through campus.

Up to and through Ottawa U
Up to and through Ottawa U

There is a bike lane to follow as far as King Edward Ave. The street opposite is Somerset St E, which isn’t too busy, and cuts right across Sandy Hill. I followed it as far as Blackburn Ave, and turned right up Blackburn to get to the studio.

Worldview Art Studio
Worldview Art Studio
Janet at her easel.
Janet painting at her easel.

On the way back, after crossing the bridge over the canal, I decided to continue straight along Somerset W. It can be a busy street, particularly in the winter when the snowbanks leave you with little option but to take the traffic lane. The traffic tends to be a little calmer between the canal and Bank Street than between Bank and Bronson.

Somerset St W in the winter
Somerset St W in the winter

Et voila – two ways to bike across town in the wintertime.

Bike commute to Briargreen

Briargreen is a small community within Nepean built in the 1960’s which has been described as a ‘snapshot’ of mid-century architecture in Ottawa. Those who live there are fortunate to have two fabulous bike commute routes into town that are almost entirely along bike paths. Here they are. The blue line is the route I followed from Centretown to get there. Purple line is the alternate route.

Blue route first – Centretown to Briargreen. Cutting through the Experimental Farm is a bit tricky these days while they are doing construction work along Cow Lane, so I followed the pathway along the NCC Scenic Driveway, then turned onto the gravel path through the small section of woods that runs parallel to Fisher. UPDATE Summer 2014: The path along Cow Lane is all fixed up (see red line on map) which permits avoiding riding along the speediest section of the NCC Scenic Drive.

Wooded path parallel to Fisher
Wooded path parallel to Fisher

This brings you to the Experimental Farm Pathway which is presently being dug up as well just east of Fisher Avenue, but fear not. You can follow this very well trodden path on the right to Fisher.

Link from wooded path to Fisher Ave
Link from wooded path to Fisher Ave

Cross Fisher to Kent Street and weave your way to Kingston St. There is a path where Kingston crosses Hollington Ave that gets you back on to the Experimental Farm Pathway. One thing I love about this and many other sections of the recreational paths is how they look onto people’s backyards where the landscaping tends to be more relaxed and personal, like this garden being guarded by an interesting scarecrow.

Scare-everything!
Scare-everything!

Follow the Experimental Farm Pathway until Woodroffe Avenue, and cross to where it becomes the Pinecrest Creek Pathway. Follow along until you come to a turn off that takes you across the bus transitway. Take this turnoff.

Now things get a little tricky just south of Baseline Road where the path jogs around an OC Transpo parking lot. This jog in the path is confusing because it opens up to a huge parking lot with no directional signs to help you distinguish what is parking vs road vs sidewalk vs pathway. While trying to figure this out I noticed most folks don’t bother with this mini detour and just ride infront of the bus parking rather than go around, as shown here and indicated by the short pink line on the above map (zoom in).

You can go that-away.... or that-away!
You can go that-away…. or that-away!

If you do take the path, versus cutting in front of the OC Transpo parking, the photo below shows where it turns once beyond the bus parking.

Direction of path around Baseline bus stop
Direction of path south of the Baseline bus stop

Continue along the path until you come to this turn off which will bring you to Summerwalk Place Lane.

Path link towards Summerwalk Place Lane
Path link towards Summerwalk Place Lane

Weave your way to Centrepoint Drive, and cross over to Marble Arch Crescent. Follow Marble Arch Crescent until it elbows south. There on the right you will notice this short path link which will takes you right through to Briargreen!

Path link from Marble Arch Crescent into Briarcliffe
Path link from Marble Arch Crescent into Briarcliffe

Here’s a well preserved mid-century modern dwelling that caught my eye.

Mid century modern in Briarcliffe
Mid century modern in Briargreen

The alternative bike commute (purple line) turns north along Watsons Creek Pathway where it joins the Ottawa River Pathway. It’s slightly longer but very scenic with fewer roads to cross. If you are gonig downtown continue along the Ottawa River Pathway. If you are coming into town via the blue line route continue along the pathway that runs along the canal from Dow’s Lake.

On that note, if anyone requires info on a safe bike commute from, or to any specific location within Ottawa or Gatineau please text me below and I would be pleased to try and help out.

Happy commuting!