Cycling the Local Greely Loop in Ottawa

Greely Loop: Apples galore in the old orchard
Apples galore in the old orchard
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A week and a half ago, I finally got a chance to visit the Greely Loop. I wrote about it in 2015, when the plans were being made but the loop was not completed yet. Today we are going to take a closer look.

Ticking off the right boxes in Greely

What is unique is that the Greely Loop was entirely citizen volunteer driven. A small group of local citizens mapped the route, found some sponsor money and got it done within a few years. This is fairly unique and I think it follows some great principles in community cycling network design: it connects to a number of parks, the community centre, Greely Elementary School and it uses a combination of quiet residential roads and some existing and a few new paths.

Arden Brooks Memorial Bridge
Arden Brooks Memorial Bridge

There is proper wayfinding in place and because it is a loop, many residents can start close to home. It is a great set up to get new people into day to day cycling, knowing their route will be safe in their own neighbourhood, where people usually start to cycle.

Not as far as I thought

People in the Dutch town of Groningen in the north say that Groningen is much further away for Amsterdammers than Amsterdam for Groningers. This refers to the idea that Amsterdam residents think Amsterdam is the centre of the universe: Groningen is just too far away to wrap their heads around a visit. For Groningers, it is only a two hour drive to Amsterdam so they drop in for an afternoon so to speak.

I feel it is the same for me. In my head, Greely is somewhere in the boonies, whereas in reality it is only a 22 km bike ride from our home in Nepean.

Our idea was to bike out to a friend who was over from Denmark, but Karen didn’t feel great so instead we drove out and brought our bikes for a quick 10-11 km ride to explore the Greely Loop after visiting our friend’s party.

artificial lake
Artificial lake

Plotting the loop

I wanted to get the loop into Komoot first. Luckily I found a proper map here, and so I could copy it into Komoot. It took a bit of fiddling but that’s what rainy mornings are for. You should be able to download the GPX data at the bottom of the image below. There are good wayfinding signs too.

We loaded the bikes in the car and off we went. After attending the party we decided to start at the Woodstream community centre as there is a little parking lot there. Alternatively you could leave a car at the Greely Community Centre at the other end if you are coming from afar.

What is Woodstream

Wood stream community centre
“unique lifestyle experience in a genuine village”

“Woodstream is a unique lifestyle experience in a genuine village atmosphere with resort style amenities, large treed home sites, a true sense of community, all within the City of Ottawa, 22 kms south of Parliament Hill, and only minutes away from city amenities and conveniences.”

Not so blue as expected

A lone Green Party sign in Greely Loop
A lone Green Party sign

I have never been to Greely so this was a good introduction to the place. It is the area where companies are called ‘Wall to Wall Tires’ and ‘Ground to Roof inspections’ but also ‘Unfolding Path Yoga’ and ‘Devlin Embrodery’.

Cycling through the area and observing the many Pierre Poilievre signs, one would think it is solidly conservative, but at a federal riding level, the Liberals were trailing the Conservatives by only 1800 votes on a total of just under 60,000 votes in the 2015 election. I could probably describe it as the land of large lawns, endless driveways, ride on lawn tractors, family dogs, quiet parks and egg throwing youth. Egg throwing youth? Yes:

Last Friday night (May 8th) as many of you are aware mailboxes were turned over in the Woodstream community. The next night many residents saw and heard teens hanging around the entrance of Southwood lake path & standing on the mailbox. Some residents have had eggs thrown at their houses & reported verbal confrontations.

Mansions galore on Greely Loop

A smaller mansion
A smaller mansion

There are many large homes in this area starting at around $800,000 and up, which is not even that expensive for your own private castle, considering a semi detached home probably goes for the same in the Glebe. It is the old adagio: location, location, location.

path through green space with housing on the right in Greely Loop
On our way along a path

We cycled along wide and quiet neighbourhood streets, admired palace-like mansions with turrets and large homes, some resembling modern art galleries on private human made beaches on artificial lakes. There are a few homes for sale if you are interested, but I am not sure if I would feel happier in such a large house with just the two of us and let’s face it, very car dependent (Some stats: car friendly: 9; nightlife, cafe, daycare, high schools: 0, average household income: $167,000). I like the idea of three garages though… Not every home is a McMansion: the homes built in the 1980’s are smaller.

Josie Anselmo Memorial Park

A little gem in the loop is the old orchard in Josie Anselmo Memorial Park, where the apple trees currently (mid September) carry an abundance of apples. We harvested a small basket to take home for apple pie. Not until I was writing this post I learned that Josie “was taken away from us tragically […] on May 22nd, 1992 by a drunk driver“. What a sad story. Source: Ottawa Citizen

Residential roads and paths on Greely Loop

Most of the 11 km route is on paved residential roads, but it does have a few crushed stone stretches, generously donated by community members. There is a muddy short stretch through a wooded area, off Waddion Drive towards Jack Pine Crescent. It was perfectly cycleable when we were there.

Off Waddion Drive into the forest
A stretch of forest in the north east section of the Greely Loop
A stretch of forest in the north east section of the Greely Loop

At a leisurely pace it will take you about 45 minutes to do the loop. To my surprise, the wayfinding was very well done, but yet another variation on the layout of our Ottawa bike wayfinding signs.

PhysioKaren crossing farmland
PhysioKaren crossing a bit of farmland

A good initiative that sets an example

Great way finding everywhere, but the signs are a bit high up sometimes

There are several parks you will cross along the way and you have to cross Stagecoach Rd twice. On a Sunday afternoon that was easy to do but traffic does go fast there.

A bit of traffic calming on Stagecoach Rd in combination with refuges or PXOs would go a long way. Another future addition could be a safe connection to the Osgoode Trail which is only a few kilometers away. I don’t know how well it is used, but we did see several people and a number of kids using the loop, despite the light rain, so that is promising. Perhaps any of my readers can shine a light on it?

Apple pie

At home, we peeled the apples we brought home. I am guessing they are ‘our national apple’, the slowly disappearing MacIntosh (after which the Apple computer was called*). They are quite sweet, but obviously not as picture perfect as you will find them at the store. But, hey, who says no to free stuff?

  • * Apple employee Jef Raskin is responsible for coining the name for the computer after his favorite variety of apple, smartly tying the whole fruit theme together.

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