This winter, to beat the winter blues, I will post some sunny material that is still on the desk from earlier this year.
Late August, we wanted to go for a shorter ride on a Sunday morning, but we didn’t feel like doing the closed loop along the Ottawa River once again, so after some staring on maps, we decided to go to Jan Harder territory. We packed out passports and cycled to Barrhaven. Barrhaven! When we were pondering buying a house in the late nineties, we took a look at Barrhaven, but we were nervous that the commute into town would be too long in a few years time with all the development going on. The last thing we want is sitting in cars, at least not longer than necessary. Barrhaven, for those who don’t live in Ottawa, is a suburb outside of Ottawa, about 20 km (14 miles) outside of down town Ottawa.
From Baseline to Fallowfield
We cycled from Baseline down through Fisher Heights, crossed Meadowlands towards Prince of Wales in order to cross the rail way line and along Prince of Wales to an area called Country Place, west to cross Merivale to the trail head of the Greenbelt Pathway just north of Black Rapids Creek. The fairly new stone dust pathway is part of the NCC’s attempt to build a rural pathway system through the Greenbelt and ends again at Woodroffe, not far from Fallowfield, where earlier in 2013 that terrible accident took place, when a bus was hit by a ViaTrain, killing 6 people in the bus. The north-south connections aren’t great in this part of town by the way. Merivale and Baseline, where Mario Théoret was killed this autumn is another example of a bad cycling infrastructure.
We cycled into Barrhaven, passing schools, parks and lots of houses, very much as expected. But there were surprises too. Barrhaven has some complete streets already, the Jock River is an Emerald Belt winding through this former Nepean suburb with even some fly fishing going on and a very nice path, the Stonebridge Trail, following the Jock River connecting with the Rideau River. From there, you can head further south to Manotick (that in our minds is always way out, but a look on the map shows we were nearly there already). And we found Complete Streets despite Jan Harder’s dire warnings against Complete Streets:
She also proclaimed to be driven by growth, which must be accommodated by roads being built. She also made it extremely clear that she does not want any assumption that there will be Complete Streets developed in the suburbs in the future. – Ecology Ottawa
In some ways, it was a typical North American bike trip. You easily cycle 40 km without really realising it, but there is never a small restaurant to sit down for a coffee and to take in the views of the river, never a terrace to watch the world go by, other than the local Starbucks (or was it Second Cup, I can never keep the two apart) with views on a the parking lot. Barrhaven has a tons of cycling potential though: bike lanes, complete streets and multi use paths galore. We didn’t see many cyclists unfortunately. But it’ll come. At Citizens for Safe Cycling, we already have the first requests for bike activities in for 2014 for the older suburbs, the newer ones will follow. The infrastructure is there already.