NCC study on winter pathway usage

Cooley Lane at the Experimental Farm could be a great addition to Ottawa's urban winter walk/bike/ski network.
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Cooley Lane at the Experimental Farm could be a great addition to Ottawa's urban winter walk/bike/ski network.

The NCC commissoned a study on the usage of their pathways in wintertime. Although some claim that the winters in Ottawa are ‘cold and dark’ the numbers might stun you. Here are some results:

Close to four in ten (36%) Canada’s Capital Region residents aged 16 and older (some 196,000 individuals) have used a recreational pathway during the winter months. An additional two in ten residents (21%, some 114,000 individuals) say there are winter activities they would do on the pathways if they were better maintained.

Winter pathway users tend to be younger, and have higher incomes than do non-users and are more likely to be female (!). Most users live on the Ontario side of the CCR.

The most-used winter pathways are those located on the Ontario side within the Greenbelt, west (52%) or east (38%) of the Rideau River. These are also the pathways that would see the most increased usage if maintenance was better. The pathways used are strongly linked to where in the region someone lives.

Virtually all (95%) winter pathway users use the pathway system for recreational purposes at least occasionally, while only two in ten (21%) use the system for commuting. That is 21% of 196,000 individuals or approx 20,000 people.

Walking is the most commonly mentioned current or potential winter pathway activity, followed by skiing. Although it was the fifth most commonly mentioned activity, winter cycling on the pathways could potentially double if maintenance was enhanced.



  1. I know this is a late comment, but I have to things:
    1) That photo captures, I believe, in the distance, Dunton Tower of Carleton University, so which path is this?
    2) I found, as a winter cyclist, that only the canal paths are best maintained. The Experimental Farm pathway is not maintained at all, which is a shame because it would serve as a great connector to the Canal pathway at Hartwells locks near Carleton. You can imagine how convenient it would be for more western Ottawa residents to be able to access the base of the Canal for skating in the winter if they were able to cut right through the Experimental farm without having to go around it as that NCC pathway is calf deep in snow.

    • It is never too late, in fact, you might be early for the next winter season. The photo is indeed facing eastwards towards the tower. I decided this morning to take the bull by the horns (to stay in farm lingo) and asked at the farm offices where to start asking for a meeting with the ones in charge. I got a phone number, where they told me I will be called back next week. I am sure I have to climb up a bureaucratic ladder, but my vision is the same as yours, using the farm to connect to the canal. Keep following my blog, I will keep the readers posted. Plowing an west-east route shouldn’t take all that much effort (for the greater good).

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  1. Beat the Blues with the Family Winter Bike Parade | Urban Commuter – Ottawa's Bike Blog
  2. Cycling in the snow…. « Urban Commuter – Ottawa's Bike Blog

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