I have written about the Nepean Trail before when it was being built. It is ready now and it is time to take a ride. The Nepean Trail is a combination of different choices of road types. The most important upgrades in the Nepean Trail are the underpass on Merivale, the crossride at Merivale and the new stretch of MUP behind Movati.
Printing money not an option for Nepean Trail
Financing the whole thing has been creative. Unlike road widening for which money appears to be printed at City Hall, the Nepean Trail has been cobbled together from different sources. For example, the path that runs along Dow’s Lake Honda (which used to be near Dow’s Lake, and should really be called Colonnade Honda now) was paid from fees. Movati donated land to the Nepean Trail and prepared the terrace in the back of their property so that the city could build a path on it. The Colonnade and Merivale crossride was paid for from Ottawa’s Public Transit Infrastructure Fund.
Other parts of the Nepean Trail consist of existing multi use pathways and residential roads. The trail currently stops having a name after Tanglewood Park, but nothing stops you from continuing along the hydro corridor paths all the way to Bruce Pit, including using some quieter roads for now and beyond to Stittsville and eventually to Vancouver.
Let’s have a look.
The signage implemented along the Nepean Trail is part of a new wayfinding system. It was first introduced along the Trans-Orléans pathway and will be rolled-out as part of select new pedestrian and cycling projects, moving forward, according to the city’s media relations department (I am now apparently considered ‘media‘).
Signs on the Nepean Trail
I like the wayfinding signs and I hope it will encourage people to understand that destinations are actually not far. However, there are way too many traffic signs put up. They are 1) too big and 2) too high. I addressed this with the city engineer and a planner who invited me for a ride. I suggested that the signs don’t need that big: it is visual pollution. Low and behold, small signs exist as you can see for example along NCC pathways and at the west side of the Flora food bridge. It is just that someone didn’t tick off the right boxes. They promised to look into it.
Everyone agrees that this intersection is far from ideal and so the city sat down and looked into a number of solutions, one being a protected intersection on two corners, but for a bit more money the entire intersection can be renewed, so look for that in a few years. I have suggested a roundabout, but who listens? According to Carina Duclos, Manager, Municipal Design and Construction:
“Several intersection designs were developed at the functional level that considered removal of the slip-around lane. However, due to construction challenges relating to existing gradients and the intersection’s unique layout, the preferred functional plan could not fit into the project budget and were left to be addressed as part of a future project and funding.“
Beachburg subdivision underpass
Usage of the Nepean Trail
I am very happy with the trail and I am using it fairly regularly, to go to get cheese, have blood work done, to go the library or to attend a meeting, like recently one on Greenbank. I really enjoy being partially away from heavy and fast traffic and bypassing some stop signs and traffic lights if I take this route.
I haven’t seen too many cyclists yet, but I have seen more pedestrians than I had expected. I noticed that the path is not overly well known yet too: one of my neighbours knew about it and wanted to use it but didn’t know where to access it (behind her house basically). So I think it needs a bit more promotion as it really is a good connection. Now lets all root for a better intersection at Meadowlands.
I noticed on Strava Heatmaps in 2021 that the underpass on Merivale is the preferred route, rather than the road. You probably think: “duh”, but there are still people who prefer to share Merivale with delivery and moving trucks in crappy asphalt.