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.

UPDATE – September 2019: Here’s a recent CBC post about the Stromatolites on the Quebec side that includes a great interview between Giacomo Panico of the show In Time and Out and Allan Donaldson, a retired professor in the earth sciences department at Carleton University.

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, which turns into Beechwood Avenue.

UPDATE 2018 : Bike lanes have been added to the full length of Beechwood, indentified by the purple line on the map, which allows for a slightly less circuitous route than the one described below.

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.

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Bike lane along Montreal Road

I turned north on St Laurent and rode down the freshly painted bike lanes.

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

Biking to the Ottawa International Airport from Downtown

There are a number of bike routes one may follow to get to the Ottawa International Airport from downtown.
Here’s my favourite.

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Starting off from the corner of Laurier Avenue and Percy I headed south along the Percy Street bike lane. Percy and Laurier is an intersection that’s easily accessible from many points within the business core via the Laurier Bike Lane that slices through downtown.

 Bike lane along Percy
Bike lane along Percy

Percy continues on the opposite side of the tunnel under the Queensway sans bike lane.

Riding along Percy south of the Queensway
Percy south of the Queensway

I turned right on Fifth Avenue and crossed Bronson Avenue at the traffic lit intersection.

Traffic lights at Fifth Avenue heading across Bronson
Traffic lights at Fifth & Bronson

Once across Bronson I continued down Madawask Drive, then onto the pathway that cuts through Commissioners Park.

Access to path through Commissioners Park from Madawaska Drive
Lovely path through Commissioners Park. Always lots of flowers.

This path took me to the intersection of Preston Street and Prince of Wales Drive.

Path through Commissioners Park as it approaches Prince of Wales and Preston
Approaching Prince of Wales and Preston

I crossed at the lights and accessed the bike path that runs through the Arboretum along the edge of Dow’s Lake and the Rideau Canal.

Path through the Arboretum along the Rideau Canal
Ahhh…where are we going again? Oh yes, the airport.

I pushed my bike over the canal locks opposite Carleton University and continued west along the Rideau Canal Pathway as far as Mooney’s Bay.

Up & over the locks
Up & over the locks

The path continues over the Rideau River along Hogs Back Road.

Once over the Hogs Back Falls bridge take the path to the right that goes through Mooneys Bay park
Once over the Hogs Back Falls bridge take the path to the right that goes through Mooney’s Bay park

On the other side of Mooney’s Bay Park the path continues along Riverside Drive for a short distance. Riverside Drive is a very busy street with lots of speeding traffic. For much of its length there are paved raised shoulders between the sidewalk and the street, however these are mostly lacking along the stretch between Walkley Road and Quesnel Drive.

I see lots of cyclists at this intersection whenever I ride through this area. Most stick to the sidewalks because they have little choice, considering the crazy traffic and lack of shoulder space to ride along. This stretch of Riverside is screaming for bike infrastructure.

To avoid this nasty section I rode a short distance along the dirt path beside the sidewalk and crossed Riverside to the parking lot of the Anglican Church.

Crossed to the church parking lot, just beyond the cyclist riding on the sidewalk.
Crossed to the church parking lot, just beyond the cyclist riding on the sidewalk.

Entrance to church parking lot off Riverside
Entrance to church parking lot off Riverside

I rode through to the opposite side of the church parking lot to the short path that cuts through to Otterson Drive.

Short path from the church parking lot through to Otterson Drive
Church parking lot, to path, to Otterson Drive

I rode south along Otterson, then down the short path that links to Quesnel Drive. I then got back on Riverside Drive and continued south along the previously mentioned raised paved shoulders. They extend from Quesnel to Uplands Drive, apart from a few spots where Riverside intersects streets and bus stops.

Paved shoulder along Riverside Drive
Paved shoulder along Riverside Drive

Then I turned left on Uplands Drive for a short distance before continuing south along Bowesville Road.

Mid way down Bowesville there’s a NO THROUGH TRAFFIC sign, and a smaller green one below it that asks pedestrians and cyclists passing through to remain on the road. That’s because it cuts through the Ottawa Hunt & Golf Club. There’s a steel gate a bit beyond the signs, however there’s space to ride by just to the right.

Signs midway down Bowesville, and gate a bit further on.
Signs midway down Bowesville, and gate a bit further on.

Once beyond the golf club property I crossed Hunt Club Road at the lights and continued south along Paul Benoit Driveway. This is a very pleasant road to ride down. Traffic wasn’t too speedy, the posted limit being 50km/h. There is also a paved path that runs along the west side of the road.

Paul Benoit Driveway
Paul Benoit Driveway

To get to the terminal I turned right where Paul Benoit Driveway ends at the airport, straight through the employee parking, then left at the end of the parking lot, which became a lane that airport employees use to walk back and forth to their cars. This lane leads right to the arrivals doors in front of the terminal.

Right @ end of PB Driveway...straight through parking...left @ end of parking...down lane to arrivals.
Turned right @ end of PB Driveway…straight through parking…left @ end of parking…down lane to arrivals.

The following concrete pillars located just outside the entrance to the airport at the arrivals doors have bike racks placed up against them.

Bike racks
Bike racks

Bonus – if conditions aren’t right for riding back in to town, there’s the OC Transpo 97 with Rack&Roll you can catch beside the last concrete column at the arrivals entrance.

Rack&Roll'ing on the 97
Rack&Roll’ing on the 97

I retraced my treads on my ride back, except for the last stretch north of the Queensway where the bike lane is along Bayswater versus Percy, as indicated by the purple line on the above map.

UPDATE – summer 2019: For a route heading from the airport to the downtown Byward Market click here.

Et voila!

Ride down Leitrim Road in memory of Andy Nevin

While cycling along Leitrim Road on the morning of Sunday June 28th, Andy Nevin was struck and killed by someone driving a white pick-up truck. The driver fled the scene of the collision and has yet to be apprehended. Andy was a father of two young boys. He was on his way to fix up a house his family were moving into just down the road from their previous home. Update – July 8 – 39 year old man arrested in hit & run death of Andy Nevin.

This past Sunday morning Patrick and I rode along Leitrim Road in an attempt to try to come to terms with this senselessness tragedy. For many there is an overwhelming feeling of apprehension that follow such horrible events. I know people who have given up riding after a friend or loved one was killed or injured while cycling, even though it remains one of the healthiest ways to get around. But when something like this occurs, facts and stats often seem meaningless.

This ride is in memory of Andy Nevin who should never have lost his life on that early Sunday morning.

Blue line is the route we followed to get there. Red is the stretch we rode along Leitrim Road. Purple line is how we got back.

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We joined Leitrim where it crosses Bowesville Road on the south side of the airport and headed east as far as Albion Road.

Leitrim & Bowesville
Leitrim & Bowesville

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Here’s our ride down Leitrim

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Most cars passed us at speeds well above the posted limits. Drivers seem to have a propensity to speed along popular commuter routes such as Leitrim. In such cases relying on signs alone to get drivers to maintain safe speeds is not effective. As Leitrim is a popular commuter route for drivers, so should it be made safe enough for who wish to do so by bike. Leitrim is also the only way to access the northern trailhead of the Osgoode Multi-Use Pathway.

Second Annual Ottawa/Gatineau Microbrew Bike Tour

Micro-brewing is taking off in and around Ottawa. On our First Annual Ottawa/Gatineau Microbrew Bike Tour we visited a number of breweries in the south, east and central areas of Ottawa and Gatineau. This year’s tour focussed on breweries in the east end of Ottawa and one in the Byward Market. Here’s how it went. Blue line on the map below is the route followed. Purple line is a section of route originally plotted, and one I would ride once the bike lanes along Innes Road have been returned to their former glory post road construction. The red line on the map is a section we should have taken.

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Before heading out we (Robert, Glenn & I) met up at Raw Sugar for coffee beside the Chinatown arch.

Starting off from the Chinatown Arch
Starting off from the Chinatown Arch

Off we rode to our first stop – Bicycle Craft Brewery on Industrial Road. Great name! The last bit of approach to the brewery along Industrial Road was treacherous. Not only is it filled with speeding trucks and cars, the little shoulder room available to avoid them speeding up behind us had pot holes and sewer grates with slots lined up in the direction of travel. Fortunately the person who greeted and served us is a cyclist, and she told on how to avoid Industrial Avenue. That’ll be the red line on the above map. ie, instead of turning left on Russell road from Coronation Avenue and riding along Industrial, it would have been better to go right on Russell then turn down the lane through the parking to the front of the brewery.

Bicycle Craft Brewery has a bike rack built for three located beside the front door.

Our first stop
Our first stop

The front of house space is very welcoming with various bike memorabilia adorning the walls. There are also chairs, a wood table to gather around, and a big cosy couch. We had small tastings of a few of their fine brews, my preference being the Crimson Cascade, so I bought a half-growler to enjoy back home. I wrapped it up in a small towel and stuffed it in my rear pannier.

A very relaxed bike tour indeed
A very relaxed bike tour indeed

On our way out, to avoid Industrial Road, we accessed Russell the way we should have on the way in, then cut through Everest which brought us to the sidewalk on St Laurent Boulevard. Looking across St Laurent we noticed a storefront sign for North of 7 Distillery, so we popped in and see what they were up to. Super friendly owner greeted us. He and another fellow working there shared stories on how the distillery came to be and offered taste sips of a couple their wares. The Triple Bean Gin was very tasty, so I bought a bottle top take home. Carla is very fussy about her gin and she really liked this one.

North of 7 Distillery
North of 7 Distillery (photo by Robert Batsch)

We rode through the parking lot to get to the bike path that runs along Innes Road as far as the Trans Canada Highway. There are no bike lanes or even sidewalks along the bridge that goes over the Trans-Canada and cars fly on and off the ramps to and from the highway. To avoid this terrible section we turned north on Star Top Road, then south east along Cyrville Road over the Trans Canada. Cyrville is not a great road to ride along either but is the least dangerous option of the two, with no highway on and off ramps to worry about. On the east side of the bridge there is a bike path that starts beside the entrance to the Home Depot to Innes Road.

Normally there is a bike lane on both sides of Innes east of the Trans Canada, however some serious road construction had the east bound bike lane all dug up, so rather than riding along Innes, as suggested by the purple line on the above map, we cut up the path that to the Transitway pedestrian bridge over the Queensway.

Path between Innes and Blair transitory pedestrian bridge
Path between Innes and Blair transitory pedestrian bridge

We then rode along Ogilvie Road, which has a bike lane as far as Blair Place. Sans bike lane, riding along Ogilvie is quite unpleasant. Fortunately Robert grew up in this part of town and was able to navigate a safe route along quiet streets from Jasmine Crescent to the Dominion City Brewing Co. on Canotek Road.

Some very friendly people at Dominion allowed us to sample a few small samplings of their brews, my favourite of which was the Two Flags IPA, so I bought a mini-growler. Dominion is also a supporter of the arts. They sponsored the opening of Brian Doyle’s Up To Low performing at Arts Court.

Outside...
(photo by Glenn Gobuyan) Outside…

... and inside the Dominion City Brewing Co.
… and inside the Dominion City Brewing Co.

In the parking lot outside the brewery sat the recently Rico Peru food truck. Normally they are located on Montreal Road, but on this fine Saturday Dominion welcomed them to set up in their parking lot, so we sampled their tasty menu. I didn’t have the cerviché, but Glenn said it was really good.

Rico Peru!
Rico Peru!

Our next stop was just around the corner at Broken Stick Brewing Company. After a couple of mini-samplings I chose the TPA as my favourite and stocked up on a small growler of the brew.

Inside the Broken Stick
Inside the Broken Stick

Final destination – Lowertown Brewery in the Market. Right beside Broken Stick Brewery there is a path that leads on to my favourite local multi-use path, the Ottawa River Pathway.

Ottawa River Pathway
Ottawa River Pathway (photo by Robert Batsch)

This we followed all the way to Rockcliffe and then wove our way through Lowertown to the brewery on York Street. This is a restaurant brewery that, at the time of our visit, were a couple of months away from meeting the qualifications to sell their brews to take home, so, it being our final destination of the day, we indulged and settled in for a pint on the patio.

Et voila!

Bike and glasses