East and West: Two Solitudes - The Problems With The Ottawa River Pathway

(Click On Maps To Enlarge)

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


Anonymous said...

Just cross Carling and the paved Watts Creek path (bikes allowed) will take you all the way to teron Road in Kanata.

Anonymous said...

Need more bike paths to accomodate families on bikes, those not comfortable with the roads on bikes, disabled who can't use the roads,...

sure, there are those that say - "we'll get kicked off the roads if we build more paths", hog wash... just more options!
Drivers need to realize that all this dumping of federal money just creates temporary jobs. With this comes temporary disposible income. Hence, more vehicles on the road. If the feds could, they would probably hand kids new cars just to prop up the GDP!
The problem are not cyclists. The problem has to do with more vehicles on the roads. With this, comes more bad drivers (a percentage of) and more irritated drivers (roads more congested) etc...

Pathways are an option to get away from it all. Sometimes we all need that!

I'll agree the bike path from east to west gets disfunctional around parliament hill.
The NCC should be promoting the capital by making it safer for cyclists along Wellington. Ever try biking Wellington at rush hour. It has some major problems. Poorly designed. We should be ashamed of Wellington. We are the nations capital. That street should be peaceful. Instead it is a mess of madness!

We need a better bike path infrastructure for those coming in from Orleans or those in Riverside south by Manotik.
Kanata has a reasonable bike path.
Barrhaven seems to have a reasonable bike path to some degree.

Its something worth fighting for.

It is amazing though the number of kms one can travel on the bike paths. The biggest problem are those travelling on the left hand side instead of staying right or roller bladers taking up two lanes (and cyclists sometimes do this as well).

Everyone needs to stay right!
Simple rule.

Overall, we need more bike paths in key areas so people can transport themselves efficiently and effectively.
We also need segregated bike lanes in the downtown core. It's becoming a nightmare with the amount of traffic. Too much congestion and irritated drivers...
We need wider roads on the outskirts of the core to accomodate those from suburbs on bike and bike paths in key locations so people can fully appreciate the capital with their family members in a peaceful setting without the disturbance of vehicles. And, we must not forget those who really have transportation issues, the disabled. We should be fighting tooth and nail for them. As, they have the toughest time getting around in the city. Especially in the winter.
Bike lanes can accomodate them as well. This will ensure the bike lanes are kept clear of debris for them to effectively and efficiently transport themselves in an independent fashion. May we fight for them as well.