Biking to the Ottawa Train Station from Centretown

The Ottawa Train Station is located a few kilometers outside of downtown. Here is a bike route to get there from Centretown.

I started off from the intersection of Laurier & Bronson avenues and headed east along the Laurier Bike Lane.

Laurier Bike lane starting at Bronson Ave
Laurier Bike Lane starting at Bronson Avenue

After passing in front of City Hall I took the exit towards Queen Elizabeth Drive and got on to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway.

Exit ramp off Laurier just beyond City Hall
Crossing Queen Elizabeth Drive to the Rideau Canal Western Pathway

I rode south along the Rideau Canal Western Pathway before crossing the canal over the Corktown bridge.

Up and over the Corktown Bridge

I traversed Colonel By Drive at the pedestrian lights and rode under the Nicholas Street tunnel, then up through the University of Ottawa campus.

Crossing Colonel By Drive towards the tunnel under Nicholas Street

After crossing King Edward Avenue at the traffic lights I rode straight down Somerset East before heading up and over the Rideau River on the Adawe Bridge.

Heading down Somerset Street East
Riding over the Adawe Bridge

On the opposite side of the river I turned right onto the Rideau River Easten Pathway.

Rideau River Easten Pathway

Just after riding under the Queensway along the Rideau River Easten Pathway I turned left onto a packed gravel path that leads to the intersection of Riverside Drive and Tremblay Road.

Gravel path off the Rideau River Eastern Pathway

Crossing the Riverside Drive and Tremblay Road intersection is the least pleasant spot along this route. Something about Riverside Drive seems to compel drivers to become impatient speedsters. The oncoming left lane is also a Queensway off ramp with a yield sign to compel drivers to let you cross. There used to be a path that went over Riverside Drive, thus avoiding this intersection, but it is blocked off (temporarily I hope) as the new transit line is being constructed.

Approach to Riverside Drive and Tremblay Road intersection
Crossing Riverside Drive and Tremblay Road intersection

Once through the intersection I continued along the sidewalk that runs parallel to Tremblay before it becomes a paved path leading up to the train station.

Path along Tremblay up to the train station

I passed all the taxis lining the circular approach to the front of the station to get to where there is a bike rack just to the left of the main doors. This location, along with the security camera hanging right above it, provides me with the confidence to leave my bike locked up to the rack when I go away on a train trip for a few days. It’s a huge improvement from a long time ago when the only option was to lock your bike to a post near the poorly lit car parking lot. That’s where I discovered my bike was stolen after returning from a weekend trip to Montreal. The bike rack out front is much better.

Bike parking at the train station

On the way back I retraced my route, except for the section along Laurier in front of City Hall. That’s because when heading west along the Laurier Bike Lane, the safe segregated section only starts at Elgin and Laurier. To get there I cut through Confederation Park as indicated by the purple line on the above map.

If anyone needs a bike route to the station from another area of town, send me a starting reference point by email or via the ‘Leave a comment’ tag.

Biking from the Glebe to Centretown

Here’s a suggested bike route from the Glebe to Centretown, in response to a request from a cyclist in search of a commute route that avoids having to ride along busy Bronson Avenue or Bank Street. This ride begins at the intersection of Holmwood Avenue and Craig Street and ends at the intersection of Bank Street and Somerset Street West.

View up Craig St from Holmwood Ave
View up Craig Street from Holmwood

Head north along Craig St. There’s a short jog left where Craig meets Fifth Ave before the route continues north along Percy Street.

Craig to Percy
Jog in the road from Craig to Percy

There is often a fair amount of traffic along Percy Street heading through the Glebe, and there are no bike lanes, however stop signs at almost every intersection seem to help keep drivers calm.

percy
View down Percy through the Glebe

A bike lane appears just before Percy continues under the Queensway. It requires easing your way over to the centre of the street. There are traffic lights to help get across the busy three lane speed strip that is Chamberlain Ave.

lane under queensway
Percy at Chamberlain

The bike path continues bi-directionally along Percy under the Queensway, however the northbound bike lane disappears a few blocks later at Flora St.

Flora
Northbound bike lane along Percy ending at Flora St

Turn east on Flora, then continue north along Bay St, which has a bike lane.

Percy bike lane
Bike lane along Percy

This stretch of Bay goes past the Powers House designed by architect Francis Sullivan. Sullivan worked with Frank Lloyd Wright before settling in Ottawa. If the works of Sullivan strike your fancy there’s a tour with visits to this and other buildings he designed within Ottawa that can be found by clicking here.

Powers house
The Powers House

The trickiest part of this route is encountered at the intersection of Bay & Gladstone where there aren’t any traffic lights to help get across busy Gladstone. You have to wait for a break in traffic.

The next busy street to get across is Somerset a few blocks further north along Bay. UPDATE – June 22, 2016: A cross walk with pedestrian activated lights has just been installed at this intersection that greatly facilitate traversing busy Somerset.

Crosswalk Bay & Somerset
Crosswalk at the intersection of Somerset and Bay

Once across Somerset, continue for a block along Percy, then turn right on to Cooper St. Cooper is a quiet one way street. The next two streets that require crossing are Lyon St and Kent St, both of which are one ways that drivers fly along on their way in or out of Centretown. No cross lights at these intersections but the gaps in traffic tend to be quite generous due to lights being one block away. Being one-ways there is also less traffic to contend with.

Once arrived at Bank Street I recommend walking your bike the final block to Somerset because Bank & Somerset is a pretty crazy intersection with cars and buses squeezing around each other or jumping the lights. You can also lock up to one of these sidewalk bike racks.

Bank St bike rack
Bank St bike rack

OR you can lock up to this fine bike rack in front of the Independent Grocery, also popularly known as Hartman’s.

Bike rack at Bank & Somerset
Bike rack at Bank & Somerset

Heading home, walk another short block along Bank to MacLaren, another quiet one way heading west, and follow it all the way to Percy. Another fine building encountered on this route along MacLaren is the old St Elijah’s Antiochia Orthodox church that was successfully converted into apartments, while maintaining it’s original outer form and aesthetic. It’s at the corner of Lyon and MacLaren right across from Dundonald Park, a.k.a. The Beer Store Park.

Speed bump hoping in front of the old St Elijah's Antiochia Orthodox church
Speed bump hoping in front of the old St Elijah’s Antiochia Orthodox church

Once arrived at Percy St, head southwardly along the bike lane back to the Glebe. Fortunately there are lights at the intersections of Somerset and Gladstone along Percy.

et voila!

Remembrance Day Bike Tour

Many Canadians are drawn to the November 11th Remembrance Day Ceremonies held at the National War Memorial to pay tribute to those who have fought and given their lives in the service of our great country. The following is a commemorative bike tour starting from the National War Memorial, with visits to a number of lesser known Canadian War Memorials throughout the capital, and ending at the National Military Cemetery.


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The National War Memorial was unveiled in 1939 to commemorate those who served in the armed forces during World War !. It has since come to symbolize the sacrifice of all Canadian Armed Forces in times of war.

National War Memorial
National War Memorial

Immediately in front of the Memorial is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It contains the remains of an unidentified Canadian soldier who died near Vimy Ridge during the First World War. This tomb represents the many Canadian soldiers who have no known grave.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Leaving the War Memorial, Head down along the edge of the Rideau Canal beside the National Arts Centre to Confederation Park where the South African War Memorial is located.

South African War Memorial
South African War Memorial

Continue through the park to Elgin Street where one can see the National Aboriginal Veterans Monument.

National Aboriginal Veterans Monument
National Aboriginal Veterans Monument

The tour crosses Elgin street and follows the Laurier Bike Lane heading west before turning north along the Bay St bike lane. After crossing Wellington at the northern end of Bay, head east for one block to Lyon St. There is a gravel path through the park just to the east of the National Archives building that leads to Lyon. Looking across Wellington up Lyon Street, one sees the Veteran Memorial Buildings . Beneath the arch connection the two buildings across Lyon St there is a stone relief carving by Ivan Mestvovic in honour of those who fought in the First World War.

Veterans Memorail Buildings
Veterans Memorail Buildings

The tour continues west along Wellington which has a bike lane beginning at Lyon St. This bike lane continues across the Portage Bridge. Just before heading over the Ottawa River there is a path off to the right that leads down to the waters edge and the Royal Canadian Navy Monument.

Royal Canadian Navy Monument
Royal Canadian Navy Monument

Head back up and over the Portage Bridge, then east along the Voyageurs Pathway that hugs the shore of the Ottawa River. One of the finest views of Parliament Hill can be seen from this section of path. The Memorial Chamber is located inside the Peace Tower. it contains the Books of Remembrance, recording every Canadian killed in service from Canada’s first overseas campaign, the Nile Expedition, to the present.

View of Parliament Hill from the Voyageurs Pathway
View of Parliament Hill from the Voyageurs Pathway

The tour heads back over the Ottawa River over the Alexandra Bridge. The Peacekeeping Monument, dedicated to Canadians who have served as peacekeepers around the world, is located on a traffic island along Sussex Drive between the national Gallery and the American Embassy.

Peacekeeping Monument
Peacekeeping Monument

The next section of the tour continues north along Sussex Drive which has a bike lane. The Defence of Hong Kong Memorial is located at the corner of Sussex and King Edward Avenue. This Memorial is dedicated to those Canadian Soldiers who served in the defence of Hong Kong during the Second World War.

Defence of Hong Kong Memorial
Defence of Hong Kong Memorial

Cross Sussex and follow the path overlooking the Rideau Falls. There are two memorials on Green Island located between the two sets of falls: The Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial, and the Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Memorial dedicated to Canadian volunteers of the Mackenzie–Papineau Battalion during the Spanish Civil War.

The Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial
The Commonwealth Air Forces Ottawa Memorial
Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Memorial
Mackenzie-Papineau Battalion Memorial

The tour continues along the path overlooking the second set of falls, then back across Sussex. On the opposite side of Sussex is the CANLOAN Monument, dedicated to Canadian soldiers who died while volunteering with the British army during the Second World War.

Canloan Monument
Canloan Monument

Head east along Stanley Avenue and the Rideau River Eastern Pathway. Then weave your way north along Barrette St to avoid the busy section of Beechwood, then get back on to Beechwood where the bike lane starts at Marier avenue. A bit further along one arrives at the entrance to Beechwood Cemetery. The National Military Cemetery is located within the grounds, as indicated on the above map.

National Military Cemetery
National Military Cemetery

the poem In Flanders Fields is cast onto a bronze plaque and mounted on a simple elegant plinth.
It is from this poem that the red poppy was drawn to become the symbol of Remembrance Day.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McRae, 1915

In Flanders Fields
In Flanders Fields

Bike tour of Stromatolites on both sides of the Ottawa River

Stromatolites are eerily stunning fossils dating back to the emergence of life on earth. The Ottawa-Gatineau Geoheritage Project describes them as ‘biosedimentary structures built up during sedimentation by cyanobacteria and blue-green algae’. The following is a bike tour of a few examples of Stromatolites visible on both sides of the Ottawa River.

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Choosing the Portage Bridge as our starting point, we crossed over the Ottawa River to Gatineau and rode upstream along the Voyageurs Pathway.

Our first stop is located just off the pathway immediately west of the Champlain Bridge. These stromatolites are visible when water levels are low in the summer and fall. It’s the most impressive display of these fossils in the region.

Stromatolites along the edge of the Ottawa River just west of the Champlain Bridge
Stromatolites along the edge of the Ottawa River just west of the Champlain Bridge

Another example of a few local Stromatolites visible in cross section can be found on the Ottawa side of the river at the eastern tip of Westboro Beach. To get there we followed the bike lanes over the Champlain Bridge back to Ottawa, then continued upstream along the Ottawa River Pathway to Westboro Beach. There are bike racks in front of the beach pavilions if one prefers avoiding having to push their bike through the sand.

Section of Stromatolites at Westboro Beach
Section of Stromatolites at Westboro Beach

Our final stop is located along the bus transitway near Roosevelt Avenue. To get there we took the tunnel under the SJAM parkway at Westboro Beach, then followed Kirchoffer Avenue to the pedestrian bridge over the OC Transpo transitway. From the opposite side of the pedestrian bridge one can see a layered section of Stromatolites exposed at the top of the stone channel that was cut to create the transitway.

Section of Stromatolites at top of stone channel
Section of Stromatolites at top of stone channel

To get back to our starting point we retraced our treads along Kirchoffer to Westboro Beach, then rode back along the Ottawa River Pathway to the Portage Bridge – a rock & roll tour almost entirely along pathways!

More on Stromatolites can be found by clicking here or on any of the Geoheritage Project links hi-lited in the above post.

Eastern tip of Westboro Beach in the Fall
Eastern tip of Westboro Beach in the Fall

Bike tour of Graffiti Walls around Ottawa and Gatineau

Here’s a bike tour of some great local legal graffiti walls. Legal walls are those onto which artists can paint without the risk of being chased away or arrested. The sites are identified by the purple markers on the map below. We also passed a few interesting non-legal graffiti walls along the way which I’ve identified on the map with red markers. It was great to have my nephew from Montreal along for the ride who is well versed in the subtleties of graffiti art.

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We started off from the Tech Wall, corner of Bronson and Slater.

tech wall1

Tech Wall detail
Tech Wall detail

We then headed over to Gatineau. There’s graffiti on the Voyageurs pathway tunnel walls where it goes under the Portage Bridge. In the winter the giant ventilation pipes let out intermittent bursts of steam in loud hisses and pops. All very dramatic.

Voyageurs Pathway heading under Portage Bridge
Voyageurs Pathway heading under Portage Bridge

We made our way over to La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway. There’s lots of bits graffiti along the walls of the Boulevard des Allumetières underpass.

La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway heading under  Boulevard des Allumetières
La Ruisseau de la brasserie pathway heading under Boulevard des Allumetières

Our second legal-wall is located along the walls of the bike path underpass heading beneath Autoroute de la Gatineau. This is a fantastic immersive stretch that pops up beneath a web of overpasses. As luck would have it, they had just painted over the entire wall in preparation for the next round of artists, however here are a couple of shots from a previous tour.

Under Autoroute de la Gatineau
Under Autoroute de la Gatineau

The path splits just beyond the underpass. We continued straight ahead to check out our third legal wall located a short distance along the path. This spectacular spot is located beneath the interchange ramps of the two major highways that cut through Gatineau, the 5 and the 50. The legal walls are on both sides of the stream, accessible by a small wooden bridge.

Stop 3 wall

Stop 3

Graffiti under highway 5 to 50 interchanges along Ruisseau de la brasserie
Graffiti under highway 5 to 50 interchanges along Ruisseau de la brasserie

We retraced our route a short distance to the earlier encountered exit across a bridge over the stream. This path took us around Lac Leamy and eventually along the Gatineau River. We then turned up along the path towards Gatineau Park. At this turn the path goes under the transitway. Along the walls of this tunnel there is some graffiti which appears to mostly be a commissioned mural. Here is some of the work just at the entrance. I don’t think the Cookie Monster is part of the original work. The mural on the inside tunnel walls is more detailed.

Graffiti at entrance to tunnel under the transitway bridge
Graffiti at entrance to tunnel under the transitway bridge

The path weaves its way up towards Gatineau Park. I’ve often seen deer along this path, although none quite as calm as these two we met.

Deer!
Deer!

The path crosses under Highway 5 for a second time. This is where our next legal graffiti walls are located.

Entrance to tunnel under highway 5
Entrance to tunnel under highway 5

The legal walls in Gatineau are identified by signs such as this one above the tunnel under Highway 5.

Sign at top of entrance tunnel
Sign at top of entrance tunnel

The next section of the ride circles up through a bit of Gatineau Park before heading back over the Portage Bridge to Ottawa. From there we followed the Ottawa River Pathway before turning inland along the O-Train pathway. Some graffiti can be seen where the pathway crosses under the SJAM Parkway. My nephew pointed out that a lot of it consisted of a tag war, with two or more painting over each other in a tit-for-tat manner.

Tag War along the O-Train Pathway
Tag War along the O-Train Pathway

To get to our final stop of the tour, we rode to and along the Rideau Canal through the Arboretum, crossed over the canal locks at Carleton University, rode through the campus, and headed over to the edge of the Rideau River where Bronson Avenue soars above. This is the most impressive legal wall in terms of scale. It’s also where the annual House of Paint Festival is held.

Brewer1

Legal wall under Bronson Ave at the edge of the Rideau River
Legal wall under Bronson Ave at the edge of the Rideau River
Bronson wall detail
Bronson wall detail

That is the last graffiti wall we visited on this tour. We completed the route by riding up along the Rideau river and canal to Hogs Back Falls, then down along the path on the opposite side of the Rideau River before heading back to our starting point.

This tour is also a fine route for anyone wishing to visit the major water ways in our region including the Ottawa River, the Rideau Canal, the Gatineau River, the Rideau River, as well as the Ruisseau de la Brasserie.

Et voila!

monster

Bike commute from the intersection of Woodroffe Ave & Richmond Road to Downtown

The Ottawa Centre EcoDistrict organized a great event to promote bike commuting, as well as hi-lite potential improvements to infrastructure that will further encourage cycling to work. Groups of riders started off from various locations around town and arrived at the final destination – City Hall, where the mayor and a number of city councillors were there to greet us. Our group of three started off from the intersection of Woodroffe Avenue and Richmond Road. Here’s the route we followed, along with observations for potential areas of improvement that we made along the way.


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Byron Avenue runs parallel to busy Richmond Road. Richmond draws most of the commuter car traffic so we headed east along Byron.

Start from Woodroffe Ave
Start from Woodroffe Ave

There is the odd aggressive driver along Byron that many potential cycling commuters understandably prefer to avoid at all cost. An alternative solution would be to follow the shared multi-use path that runs between Byron and Richmond. One disadvantage of this path is that it starts 10 meters east of Woodroffe along a sidewalk that passes in front of a bus shelter. A solution would be for the path to start at Woodroffe extending behind the bus shelter.

Start of path beyond bus shelter..........path looking west
Start of path beyond bus shelter……….path looking west

We continued along Byron, then turned left along Fraser Avenue and across Richmond at the lights.

Lights at Fraser & Richmond
Lights at Fraser & Richmond

We rode to the end of Fraser, then one block back along Skead St to access the paved link onto the multi-use path that runs along the south side of the SJAM Parkway.

Access path off Skead
Access path off Skead

This path is poorly maintained. There are cracks that extend across it’s width every few meters creating a very jarring and uncomfortable ride.

Bumpy path
Bumpy path

We rode along this path as far Westboro Beach where we crossed under the parkway to the much better maintained Ottawa River Pathway.

The crossing at River Street was noted as a potentially dangerous spot, identified by the red marker on the above map. The path takes a quick turn just before reaching this intersection. Cyclists who notice and take heed of the miniature stop sign are quickly overtaken by cyclists approaching from behind.

Intersection at River Street
Intersection at River Street

Good to see the gaps have been filled between the path and the ends of the small wooden bridge just to the west of the War Museum.

Filled in gap at edge of wooden bridge
Filled in gap at edge of wooden bridge

The rest of the ride was smooth sailing. We followed the path below Parliament Hill then up beside along canal before cutting through Confederation park to City Hall.

Arrivée!
Arrivée!

Kudos to the Ottawa EcoDistrict and their partners for organizing this great initiative, along with all the riders who participated!

Yeah team Woodroffe&Richmond!
Yeah team Woodroffe&Richmond!

Bike commute from Aviation Parkway & Montreal Road to Downtown – Option 2

In the Spring of 2014 I posted a bike commute route from the intersection of Aviation Parkway & Montreal Road to downtown which you can check out by clicking here.

This summer two new lengths of bike lanes along busy roads have been introduced that allow for a less circuitous route. The first set of new lanes are along St Laurent Boulevard, linking previously existing bike lanes that run along Montreal Road and Hemlock Road.

The second set of new lanes encountered on this outing are along Sussex Drive that complete an important bike link from downtown to the Ottawa River Pathway.

I tried out the route one morning last week during commute hour. Here’s how it went.

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There are bike lanes along Montreal Road that end at St Laurent Boulevard heading west.

DCIM100GOPRO
Bike lane along Montreal Road

I turned north on St Laurent and rode down the freshly painted bike lanes. A more detailed description of these new lanes can be found on the web site of the local city councillor by clicking here.

Bike lane along St Laurent Boulevard
Bike lane along St Laurent Boulevard

Here’s a clip of my ride along the new bike lane along St Laurent heading north.

I turned left onto Hemlock Road and followed the bike lane to where it ends at Putman Avenue.

Bike lane along Hemlock
Bike lane along Hemlock

Headed west along Putnam then left down Vaughan Street, both quiet residential streets through New Edinburgh.

Riding through New Edinburgh
Riding through New Edinburgh

Vaughan ends at Crichton Street. A short jog west along Crichton took me to a gravel path that links to the Rideau River Eastern Pathway.

Gravel path off Crichton that leads to.....the Rideau River Pathway
Gravel path off Crichton that leads to…..the Rideau River Eastern Pathway

One of my favourite routes from New Edinburgh to downtown takes me over the series of little white bridges along Union Street, then cuts through Lowertown, as described in the other route, however the bridges are presently under major renovation.

Closed for construction
Closed for construction

All the more incentive to try out the second stretch of new bike lanes along Sussex Avenue.

Bike lane along Sussex
Bike lane along Sussex

I then turned in to the parking lane of the National Gallery and cut across the plaza where one can admire Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture Maman.

Maman
Maman

Here’s another clip, this time of the new section of bike lane along Sussex heading in to town.

I then crossed at the signalized pedestrian crosswalk over to the bike lanes that run along Majors Hill Park. Before crossing the Alexandra Bridge (which would be a fine thing to do if your commute was to Gatineau) I turned left onto the road that goes down to where the Rideau Canal meets the Ottawa River and walked my bike over the second set of locks. From there one can follow the Ottawa River Pathway to points further west along the river, or bike up along the canal towards the NAC and the rest of downtown.

Et voila!

Rideau Canal locks
Rideau Canal locks