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

30 Days of Biking – Day 27 : Ride to the Centretown Community Garden Project and Théâtre de l’Île

The annual Spring clean up of the Centretown Community Garden Project took place this morning so I rode over to lend a hand. Lot’s of fantastic folks all getting together to clean up the site and yack about what to plant this year.
I then biked over to Théâtre de l’Île with my talented assistant Mika to get some set work finished up. Short jaunts but energizing none-the-less on day 27 of 30 Days of Biking.

The Centretown Community Garden is located at the corner of Lisgar and Lyon St N. To get there I followed the same route as described on Day 1 (seems so long ago) as far as Lyon St. Then it was half a block on Lyon to the garden.

Spring clean up at the Centretown Community Garden
Spring clean up at the Centretown Community Garden

It was a fine day for a ride to the theatre. The sky above the Chaudière dam was impressive when we biked over the Portage Bridge.

April sky over the Chaudière dam
April sky over the Chaudière dam

The ride home was great too.

Riding home

30 Days of Biking – Day 26 : Riding to the Canadian Museum of Science and Technology

I needed to pick something up at the Museum of Science and Technology so I rode there, on Day 26 of 30 Days of Biking. Blue line on the map shows route I followed there. Red line is the one I took to get home.

One thing I like about riding at this time of year is the opportunity to notice details within the landscape less visible once the trees have sprouted leaves. Such as this pavilion, attached to the back of the slowly disappearing Sir John Carling Building presently being torn down. I hope it avoids the wrecking ball. You can take this narrow path up to take a closer look.

Up the path........ to see the pavilion
Up the path…….. to see the pavilion

I then biked through the Arboretum, crossed the locks across from Carleton U, and rode up the bike path towards Mooneys Bay.

The path gets a little convoluted at Mooneys Bay. You can ride over the falls along the path on the west side of the street, but you won’t see the falls, which are pretty spectacular at this time of year. or you can cross back under the road and ride over the falls the east side, as I did and indicated on the above map, where you will catch great views of the falls. It means carrying your bike up a few steps.

Stairs to climb..... to view the falls
Stairs to climb….. to view the falls

I rode down along the Rideau River Eastern Pathway (no more flooding) then turned up Pleasant Park Road, which around Pleasant Park Woods, isn’t so pleasant. This huge swath of trees has been cut down because of the Emerald Ash borer bug.

Sad Pleasant Park Woods
Sad Pleasant Park Woods

I took a short cut through Weston Park to Weston Drive. It’s the one with the colourful works of crochet stretched on the chain link fence.

South entrance to Weston Park
South entrance to Weston Park

Weston Street is on the other side of Weston Park, which I followed to Othello St. I rode north along Othello then cut through the Elmvale Acres Shopping mall parking lot to the intersect at Smyth Road and St Laurent Boulevard.

I then rode through the huge park in front of the museum, which brought me up close to a giant old locomotive and the big silver rocket.

Hello rocket!
Hello rocket!

Bike parking is located just to the north of the main entrance.

Museum is behind you.
Bike rack near museum entrance. Not that white dome

On my way home I turned off Pleasant Park road onto the bike path that goes past the allotment gardens and followed the same route described in this post.

Et voila – only 4 more days to go!

30 Days of Biking – Day 22 : Rainy Day Ride to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Ile

Today I had to bring a bunch of big painting drop cloths to Les Ateliers du Théâtre de l’Ile in Gatineau, so I stuffed them in my panniers and biked there. Now I may have driven there on this rainy day if I hadn’t taken the 30 Days of Biking pledge – a personal promise to pedal every day throughout April.

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Good thing I did, because I would have missed an opportunity to pause and contemplate the brooding Edgar-Allen-Poe-ish beauty that hung over the region on this rainy spring day. Take, for example, the mist rising over the majestic Ottawa River, as seen from the Portage Bridge.

Mist rising over the mighty Ottawa River
Mist rising over the mighty Ottawa River

Or the big old abandoned carbide mill on Victoria Island.

Carbide mill on Victoria Island
Carbide mill on Victoria Island

Vieux Hull has some fine examples of heritage architecture to admire while passing through.

Gatineau1

Old buildings in Vieux-Hull
Old buildings in Vieux-Hull

Don’t know too much about these buildings, but on May 2nd I hope to learn more on a free tour À la découverte du patrimoine du Vieux-Hull, one of this years Jane’s Walks.

Et voila!

30 Days of Biking – Day 18 : Ride to Hog’s Back Falls

Hog’s Back Falls is a pretty spectacular sight at this time of year as a result of the spring melt off. The falls were created at the time of the construction of the Rideau Canal, as explained in this very interesting post. On day 18 of 30 Days of Biking, my son and I biked over to check them out, and discovered some wonderful vantage points.

To get there we followed the O-Train path as far as Young St. That’s where the path surface changes from asphalt to packed dirt. (UPDATE Spring 2019: The path is now paved all the way to Prince of Wales Drive!). We rode through the arboretum and crossed the canal locks at Carleton University. (The purple line is an alternate route should the path through the Arboretum still be snowed in).

That got us on the canal pathway which we followed all the way to Mooneys Bay. The canal is still empty allowing for some great views of the locks, including this one at Mooneys Bay. The patine on the stonework is pretty fantastic. Nic says it looks like the walls of a medieval fortress!

Canal lock at Mooneys Bay
Canal lock at Mooneys Bay

The path circles under and up onto Hogs Back Road over the falls. You can’t really see the falls from this path, but you sure can hear them. Once on the other side of the bridge the path circles under Hogs Back Road once again, which takes you into Hog’s Back Park, from where you can go right up to the edge of the falls.

View of falls from the south shore
View of falls from the south shore

There’s a path that goes right over the falls, allowing you to stare straight down into the torrential frothing.

One point perspective of Hog's Back Falls
One point perspective of Hog’s Back Falls

On the north shore you can follow the path down onto the exposed rock.

Exposed rock
Exposed rock

There are a few short sets of stairs so you may wish to lock your bike on the opposite shore. We brought ours, allowing us to follow another path on the north side of the falls under Hogs Back Road. This path joins the one that continues along the canal.

Path under Hogs Back Road on the north side of the river
Path under Hogs Back Road on the north side of the river

I know this way-finding description around the falls is confusing, so zoom in on the above map to the area around the falls and it will make more sense.

I highly recommend riding over and checking out the fury of the falls before the snow melt excitement subsides.

30 Days of Biking – Day 17 : Ride to Courtwood Crescent

Courtwood Crescent is short street with small office buildings nestled in a tight triangular industrial zone south of the Queensway, west of Carlington Park, and east of Maitland. At the mention of industrial zone the backs of most cyclists justifiably bristle. That’s where trucks hang out, from pick-ups to transports, and where drivers of such vehicles often don’t expect to see two wheeled self-propelled pedallers. But they should, because everyone needs to feel safe biking to work. So here’s how I accessed and got out of the Zone on a job errand, on day 17 of 30 Days of Biking.

First, I had to get myself a new riding windbreaker. The 18 year old MEC-collectors-item I’ve been sporting was getting very tired, even with the new reflecto sewn on by Carla that helped me survive riding through the winter. So I stopped off at Bushtukah, who didn’t quite have what I was after, and MEC who did. Only realised when I got home that the jacket I LOVED (and bought) was a women’s large. It’s a windbreaker that needs to keep me dry and visible. Whatever works.

MEC Derecho Jacket
MEC Derecho Jacket

Purchase made, I rode south on Roosevelt, then across the lights at Cole and Carling. South of Carling is where things start getting industrial – i.e. lot of trucks, road sand accumulated over the winter street cleaners will probably never see, and supersized potholes. Even so there was enough shoulder space to feel safe with minimal street parking. The traffic felt less erratic and dangerous than the stretch along Richmond between Bushtukah and MEC.

Woodward Ave
Woodward Ave

What I find unique about this area of town, is that right beside the industrial muck and trucks sits a park, with an excellent hockey arena, two baseball diamonds, and a toboggan hill. Rather than re-trace my treads home, I cut along the paths on the edge of the baseball diamonds to the residential area on the other side. These were fine, although a little mushy as stone dust paths tend to be at this time of year.

Path behind baseball diamonds
Path behind baseball diamonds

Once beyond the baseball diamonds, accessing the Experimental Farm pathway required a bit of a stair climb up to Caldwell Ave.

Stairs up to Caldwell
Stairs up to Caldwell

I got on to the Experimental Farm Pathway from Caldwell. Sad to see a bunch of ash trees recently felled along Ash Lane in the middle of the farm, probably more victims of the Emerald Ash Borer beetle. Some creative tree cutter made the best of it by carving this champignon out of the trunk.

Ash trunk toad stool
Ash trunk toadstool

Et voila.

30 Days of Biking – Day 13 : Chinatown to the Coliseum

My son is a trooper. After yesterday’s 10 km loop around town I was worried it would take quite an effort to convince him to join me on a ride over to Hog’s Back Falls. Not only was he keen, he suggested we ride even further out towards Britannia Bay to a favorite store of his called Games Workshop. It recently relocated to a mini-mall beside the Coliseum Cinemas. So, for day 13 of 30 Days of Biking we saddled up and headed off!

Usually we would have ridden west along the Ottawa River Pathway starting at the Portage Bridge, but with rumours of river banks flooding, and memories of how much the path was inundated last Spring I decided to cut through Hintonburg to the bike lane along Scott. Traffic is usually less frantic on the weekend, and I didn’t want to push my luck on the distance my son could ride as it’s a more direct route than riding along the Ottawa River pathway. At the western end of Scott we followed the path along the transit-way that joins the path along the south side of the parkway. This section of bike path was fine, apart for just a few muddy puddles like so.

Puddle pedalling
Puddle pedalling

I did notice some cyclists riding along the path on the north side of the driveway, so when we arrived at the intersection west of Woodroffe I made the executive decision to take the parkway underpass and continue along the north side. It was great. The views of the melting ice on the river are quite spectacular.

Ottawa River in  Spring
Ottawa River in Spring

There was only one slushy patch around Mud Lake, but otherwise the path was very rideable.

Just a bit of slush
Just a bit of slush

We accessed Carling from Burland St, which was a bit of a mistake. We should have done so one block west at Kempster where there is a traffic light. On the ride home I was reminded of how windy it can get along the river, particularly in the spring when there are no leaves to dampen the wind. It was really strong, but still the boy braved on. On the way back we also noticed patches of trees with the bottom portions of the bark freshly chewed off. Hope they survive.

Chomped tree trunks
Chomped tree trunks

So, all in all, a fine outing indeed. I am very proud of my lad.