Most of the cycling advocacy efforts are naturally focussed on the down town area. It is where the pressure of traffic is highest and where many people converge on their way to work. Besides commuter cycling, Ottawa’s down town offers great recreational cycling; there are lots of opportunities to bike around and this is an asset for Ottawa that has not been exploited very much. I am trying to convince Tourism Ottawa, but other than some polite exchanges, we haven’t really moved on that file. Judging by the name, you’d think they promote tourism, but the focus is really on getting the big conventions in to fill the hotels. I am optimistic though, that some ideas will fall into place in the next three to five years. In Dutch, we’d say that ideas have to soak for a while. Eventually, they will materialise.
Today, we are heading out to one of Ottawa’s suburbs: Kanata. My wife and I decided to go out and explore the suburbs after we checked out Keith Egli’s Ward 9 (Old Nepean) last year.
Kanata is largely the creation of Bill Teron, a developer and urban planner who purchased over 3,000 acres (12 km2) of rural land and set about building a model community. Unlike other suburbs, Kanata was designed to have a mix of densities and commercial and residential properties. More…
The goal was to use as many bike paths as possible. We packed about three different maps but boy, did we get lost a number of times….
We drove (yes, drove) out to Robertson Road, where the old railway track crosses Robertson. We put our commuter bikes together and took off over the old railway track. Little did we know that this was actually part of the Trans Canada Trail. At Shetland Park, we turned north, ending up cycling through some shrubbery and appearing again at Eagleson and Hazeldean.
Lost in Katimavik
Time to get the map out. Crossing behind Hazeldean Mall, we found our way to the bike paths at Hewitt Park again, ending up at Katimavik Elementary school. Here, we got lost again: the maps shows a path to Beaufort and on to Katimavik Road, but there ain’t no path to Katimavik Road. We meandered through Cat tail Creek Park, but the twisting and turning doesn’t make it any clearer which direction you are actually cycling.
Eventually, we found our way and ended up cycling along Katimavik Rd, on to Whitney Drive and crossing the Queensway by using the very nice all weather covered bridge. I bet that was a lot more expensive than the Laurier Bike Lane, but I don’t think young Furey bothered coming out to report that.
Barrelling down from the bridge, we decided to turn left on Campeau, and just before Terry Fox, we’d go north again on a path. Some how, we completely missed the path, and kept cycling west towards Terry Fox. Looking back on Google Street View, it is hard to believe we missed it, but we decided to take an alternative road instead. As my mother in law would say: “O well“.
We hooked up to a path after Tommy & Lefevre and found our way north, cycling through a few residential streets in Kanata Lakes (didn’t see any lakes though), cul du sacs and short cuts to Goulbourn Forced Road (GFR).
Passing very nice suburban developments, bordering on lots of nature, we cycled around the Beaver pond and found our way back through forestry areas to Gouldbourn Forced Road. One is really at the limits of Ottawa’s developments here.
GFR eventually brings you back to the Terry Fox Drive, a main artery that runs North – South through Kanata, but we didn’t go that far, as there is a nice path going east again, crossing the railroad tracks and dropping you off at a street called Stacey Drive, which has a strip mall with a Royal Oak at March Road (the road where Cathy Anderson and four others were mowed down by a ‘man in a van‘. Fortunately, they all survived, but it was one of those defining moments in Ottawa’s cycling history.
We are big believers of loops, no in and out the same way for us, and we believe in destination trips, in other words, we’d like to stop for a beer/hot chocolate/coffee/apple pie/wine tasting. Cycling is a social thing for us and we are not setting new speed records. Unfortunately, other than a strip mall, there isn’t really much along the way to sit in a slightly nice ambience than Timmy’s or anything that remotely invites you to sit and enjoy the nice weather from underneath an umbrella behind a cold beer. So the strip mall it was.
The way back
Richardson Side Road and Herzberg Rd. brought us to the entrance of a path into the Greenbelt. That was the theory. We passed the access three times before we found it. Is it really too much to put a little sign there? It is not a wide entrance, but a muddy path on a berm that guides you around a golf course. It is obvious on the picture below, but when you are cycling around it doesn’t make sense that this a path into NCC land. Apparently, the path has a story, known by Alex the Puffin.
The path loops around the golf course, crosses Carling, meanders through the Greenbelt and eventually we ended up at an intersection with Carling, where we headed north again on the Greenbelt Trail towards Shirley’s Bay. Indeed, we crossed Carling again, which is kind of a scary exercise as there are no road markings or lights and traffic goes fast. Responsible Cyclists would have no problem of course, but grand dad with his 7 year old grand daughter on her little pink bike is another story.
As you can see in the picture, the bay is a true gem. When we were there, there was hardly anybody there, it feels like you are on holiday in another place. A family was barbecue-ing and swimming and that was about it. We had our lunch on the water and enjoyed wonderful views. It is very rocky though and it is a bit of a balancing act to walk into the water.
Back on the bikes, we headed south the same way we came, cut across the Greenbelt, passed the Nepean Campground and the equestrian grounds, crossed underneath the Queensway and followed the path further along. We crossed a road we’d never heard of, Timm Drive, and saw some really nice government buildings at the CanMet Bells Corners Complex (looks like a lovely place to work, in the forest and only minutes from home still). Eventually, the Greenbelt Trail dropped us off at our car at Robertson again.
The whole loop is about 60 km, which sounds like a lot for many, but is really not much as there is lots of variety to distract you from saddle pain: rural land, forest, beach and river and some developments. Our average speed is around 18-19 km.
Cycling around Kanata, I realised that Kanata is the perfect place for cargo bikes, but that will be the topic of another post.