The really nice thing about Ottawa is that so much of the Ottawa River shoreline is in public hands and includes shared scenic recreational pathways/bike paths. In the past few weeks I have rode on the eastern and western portions of the Ottawa River pathway and made some observations. The first one being:
It is often said of Canada, that it consists of two solitudes, English Canada and French Canada. When it comes to the Ottawa River Pathway the solitudes are East and West. The connections between Ontario and Quebec are actually quite good, however the East and West sections of the Ottawa River Pathway are separated from each other by sometimes dangerous roadways. I did not even try to follow the roadway from the east to west on my last ride because it started along a very narrow and winding under construction section of road.
However if you examine the map above you will see that there is not much development along the riverfront between the two sections of the Ottawa River Pathway, and I believe most of what development there is, are federal institutions. One of the problems with the National Capital's very good system of pathways is the lack of key interconnections. I believe this missing link to be one of the most important missing connections and connecting the two sections properly, avoiding roadways, should be given the highest priority.
I also see a problem with the western section of the Ottawa River Pathway:
The Ottawa River Pathway ends at the Andrew Haydon Park water park, although two separate pathways continue, one through parkland (Andrew Haydon Park and Dick Bell Park) and one along Carling Avenue.
Unlike all other pathways that I know of in the National Capital Region, the one through this parkland is not a shared pathway and bicycling is not allowed on it. The only reason I can think of for this anomaly is that it goes back to when those parks were in Nepean and different rules were applied. Indeed the section immediately east of the water park going go Britannia Park has as much, if not more, pedestrian traffic than the section that goes through Andrew Haydon Park and bicyclists and pedestrians manage to share the pathway with no problem. As well since there is an alternative faster and shorter route along Carling Avenue, commuter cyclists in a hurry would opt for that route leaving the route through the parkland for those wanting a casual ride through parkland avoiding the traffic noise of Carling Avenue.
It is time to move on and apply the same rules to this pathway as all other pathways in the National Capital Region.
After Dick Bell Park the pathway continues along Carling Avenue as that is where the publicly owned land ends, at least until we get to Shirley's Bay.
I also have an observation to make about the eastern end of the Ottawa River Pathway:
I discovered that there is another very pleasant gravel pathway a short distance from the eastern end of the Ottawa River Pathway. The pathway starts alongside Hiawatha Park Road, not far from the Bruyère Continuing Care Saint-Louis Residence, and goes all the way to Trim Road. One interesting thing about this pathway is that a group of what appear to be hiking and/or single track mountain bike trails intersect with it and run alongside a portion of the pathway.
I believe it would be very useful to have some signage at the eastern end of the Ottawa River Pathway directing people to this, as far as I know, unnamed pathway.
The Ottawa River Pathway is a very important part of the National Capital Region shared pathway system and very enjoyable to cycle on. With some improvements it could be a real gem, the most important being connecting the east and west sections safely so that they are no longer two solitudes.
See also: Ottawa River Pathway Two Solitudes: PostScript