Raised Bike Tracks on Ottawa’s Richmond Road

New raised bike lane on Richmond Road
Reading Time: 7 minutes

Last week I went to Lee Valley to buy a new shovel. The wooden stem was broken and even though the shovel itself is made of heavy duty metal, the stem could not be replaced. So far for buying quality products.

The stem broke. Too bad as it is a great heavy duty shovel. Replacing the stem looked like too much of a hassle to me.
Luckily Lee Valley gives lifelong warranty, but as the shovel was about 10 years old, it had become 14 dollars more expensive, so I paid extra for the shovel. Still it was painful to hand over the otherwise perfectly fine old tool.

Richmond Road bike tracks

The next stop was National Capital Freenet on Richmond Road to drop of some older but still functioning computer stuff as well as some e-waste. On my way there, I noticed a brand new eastbound bike track on Richmond, between Forest St and the bridge over the parkway at Lincoln Fields.

bike lane raised
Red is the new raised bike lane and track. The track starts at Forest St. Blue is one of the existing NCC pathways at Lincoln Fields.
The bike lane on the left before Forest St. I don’t know if this is a curbless sidewalk or a service strip.
The track starts after Forest St. I am a bit puzzled why it doesn’t start earlier.
The Lincoln Fields Shopping Mall had wide entrance and exit lanes. The new lanes have a near 90 degree angle, forcing traffic to slow down considerably. The mall is pretty much dead currently but I assume the land is quite valuable and redevelopment into mixed-use should will add a lot of value as well as bring a ton of money in property tax. It is close to good bus transport, the light rail will be close and access to bike paths is great. And not everyone wants to live in the Byward Market or Hintonbrug. The land use in the area is pretty bad. On the other side, figuring out demand is probably iffy. Low rise would probably require pretty expensive housing, and high rise might take to long too fill before building.

Pleased to see that the entrance and exit lanes of the dead mall have been considerable modified.
Since Walmart is gone, the mall is a future candidate for deadmall.com If you look closer, you can see darker green grass. This is where the exit lane used to be.
The exit lane in the old situation (Google capture).  For my Dutch friends: this is kind of ‘the old normal’ for Canadian 1960’s suburbs commercial arterials.
The Ford dealer across the street is using the mall parking lot for his display of trucks.

Ford dealer using the mall parking lot.
The raised bike track at the west end looking west. The track runs in front of the bus stop.
bike lane raised
Further east the track runs behind the bus stop.
bike lane raised
The bike track including sink hole crossing Croydon. Note the bike signal disappears against the darkness of the high rise behind it. I am hoping their will be ‘elephant feet’ markings for the bike lane on the road too.
The track meanders in front of one bus stop and behind another bus stop and even has its own bicycle signals. The bicycle signal is small and quite far away: you can easily miss it. When I looked closer I noticed that the signals is still mostly wrapped in plastic. I am betting someone forgot to take it off.

Richmond Road bike signal
The pedestrian crossing has been adjusted and appears to follow a desire line rather than the shortest way to cross the road.
The Assaly intersection. I wonder why the post with the pedestrian light and the street name sign can not be combined with the post on the left.

Lights at stop line

If you think about it, it is odd that bike signals are smaller, as if cyclists have a sharper vision. Smaller lights are justified when they are closer, but they are just as far away as lights over the road’s car lanes. It would make a case for having a signal at the actual stop line at eye level such as in European countries, rather than across the street.

Here is an example of a Dutch traffic light. The light is on the ‘waiting’ side of the intersection rather than across and includes a count down counter to show how long you have to wait as well as it acknowledges you pressed the button or at least that you were registered some kind of a sensor. (‘Wacht’ = ‘wait’, the white LED’s count down.)

Dutch traffic light
Dutch bicycle traffic light

No changes for west bound bike traffic

The westbound lane remained unchanged on Richmond Road.
The westbound lane on that part of Richmond hasn’t changed; it is in the dooring zone of west bound traffic.

A very strange configuration: the bike track ends just before it connects with the NCC pathway just past the bus stop. Ideally, that should connect seemlessly. I am suspecting the jurisdiction of Ottawa stops at this corner and changes to NCC property. You can take a shortcut through the parking lot on the right.
The photo above shows an orange arrow pointing to a patch. When I returned to check something out, I noticed that the last 3-4 meters where repaved as you can see below:

Ha, the contractor didn’t get away with that patch. Bring the asphalt machine out again.
The path stops rather abruptly and eases back on to an on-road bike lane before you connect to the NCC MUP that is west of the SJAM Parkway.

View from the NCC pathway approaching Richmond Road. If you want to continue westbound (turning left), you are out of luck.
If you come from the NCC SJAM bike path and you want to go westbound on Richmond, you must cross fairly heavy traffic: it is often hard to cross and not very safe anyway (photo above). Therefore, I suspect people will cycle westbound on the eastbound lane and use it as a bi-directional lane to the first traffic light. It is too tempting and too nice not to do it. I’d do it too. Wouldn’t you know that when I returned last Saturday, two cyclists were cycling on the path west bound against traffic. I don’t blame them.

As predicted, choosing for safety instead of the rules. Turns out they were a bit lost and were trying to find their way to the parkway. I showed how to get to the parkway.
A very nice smooth transition from road to path. Usually the curb is a wee higher causing this unpleasant shock in your wrists. The white line is concrete, not paint.
Alternatively, you cycle underneath the bridge and find your way through the neighbourhood north of Richmond behind the strip mall back to Richmond Road.

A bike lane in Ottawa is not complete without a pole in the way.
The track is not only being used by residents on two wheel bikes but also by wheels chairs and trikes.
So really a great improvement in this 1960’s asphalt ridden area. The fresh green space makes a big difference.

I wonder though why it only starts at Forest St and I am surprised why it is not continued to the NCC pathway. We are talking only 50 extra meters.



  1. I suspect the bike light signal is still wrapped because it cannot signal a cyclist to cross the road by cycling on a crosswalk. Once a cross ride is installed, the signal will be meaningfull.
    As for the “extra” post in the middle of the space picture, standards require the beg button on new installs to be within 5′ or something like that of the crossing, so peds dont have to hike way off into the underbrush to find the button, and it may now even be within the snow clearing area rather than behind a snow slush and garbage mountain.

    I am pleased to see the Richmond Rd cycle track. Bit by bit, segment by segment, we are getting improved first rate cycling infrastructure. It cannot all be built in a day, so I will accept incremental improvement.

  2. Given time, that smooth transition from asphalt-to-concrete-curb-to-asphalt will likely settle in a way that DOES jar the wrists. I don’t understand why the asphalt can’t simply continue.

    And it seems poles in the middle of the path is the new standard. Makes beg buttons easier to push? And obstacles keeps cyclists alert… don’t relax and admire the scenery (or turning traffic) too much; you need to also notice all the poles.

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