On August 13, 2010 a cyclist was killed while riding along city streets in the area of the official detour route for a section of National Capital Commission (NCC) pathway along the Ottawa River that was closed for rehabilitation.
This post is not meant to assign blame for this tragedy. I will leave that to the appropriate authorities. I also want to make it clear that I rode the official detour route and it seemed perfectly comfortable and safe to ride, for me.
That being said, the Ottawa Citizen article did raise concerns about cyclists detouring through the neighbourhood streets which I wish to address. Indeed, there are many people who choose the shared pathways to cycle because they do not feel comfortable riding on the roads and it seems appropriate to attempt to keep a pathway detour on pathways as much as possible. In this case, when there is a parallel pathway running alongside the detour route, not using it and detouring further away on city streets seems completely inappropriate. I have not been using the official route but an unofficial detour that I mapped out several weeks ago (and shared with others) before the official detour route was marked.
As you can see the official detour (and my route) follows alongside Carling Avenue for a bit on the paved shoulder. It then, out of necessity, goes down Maplehurst Avenue and then along the parallel pathway. My unofficial detour continues along the parallel pathway until it reaches the end of the construction zone and continues on an open and rideable section of the main pathway. For some reason the official detour leaves the parallel pathway at Kempster Ave. and meanders through city streets not joining the main pathway till well past the end of the construction, as the map above indicates.
As soon as I saw the official detour route I wondered why it did not follow the most logical and appropriate route rather than taking cyclists, many who choose to ride the pathways to avoid the roads, onto city streets.
UPDATE AUGUST 16, 2010
Today construction has started on the dark blue section of the detour. The old asphalt has been removed and new gravel put down and it appears to have been packed down by a roller. That section of pathway is now effectively open and being used, at least till they start repaving it. The rest of the detour, blue section, has the old asphalt removed, new gravel down, and rollers were on it today.
UPDATE AUGUST 23, 2010
All of the pathway construction is paved (lines not painted) and effectively in use, although not yet officially open.
UPDATE OCTOBER 20, 2010 (from NCC)
Re-opening: Ottawa River Pathway
The rehabilitation work of the 2 km of recreational pathway between Carling Ave. and Britannia Rd is completed. The NCC has done its final inspection and the pathway has officially re-opened.