Cycling infra updates in Ottawa in 2023 – part 1/2

a woman cycles on a converted train bridge with a wooden deck. the corners of the image are decorated with holly. the text in the image reads 'visit the new 2023 cycling infrastructure in Ottawa (part 1)
Reading Time: 8 minutes

I thought it would be fun to look at improvements in Ottawa cycling infrastructure this December. No doubt you have noticed a lot of construction going on in Ottawa: the Albert and Slater area in front of the new main library, the east west stretch of digging to accommodate the new district heating from the heating plant next to the the Supreme Court, work on Parliament Hill, projects on Greenfield Ave, Lincoln Fields, Richmond Road, Stanley Ave, Byron Ave, Scott St. A new building for the British High Commission on Sussex. New towers from downtown to Centrepointe. It feels like one big construction zone within Ottawa’s Greenbelt.

But fortunately, several projects do come with improved cycling infrastructure. Some of the projects are awesome, others mundane but very welcome. The list is long so I divided it into two posts. I didn’t want to wait much longer with taking pics even though several projects are not fully finished yet. Hence many brown-ish pictures. I don’t mind cycling in snow, but the projects would be partially snow covered. Therefore, you’ll still see several orange road barrels, construction fencing and tarps in the pics. But all projects are finished or close to be finished. Here is the first of two posts.

Chief William Commanda bridge

A spectacular new 1 km addition to our cycling network, the bridge opened in the summer and was immediately embraced by residents. The numbers are just as spectacular with over 30,000 people a month using the bridge. And then the city closed it for the winter, even before the first serious snowfall. But then councillors said they are working on opening it again. I wrote about the history of the bridge here. (one of the best visited posts this year by the way)

Byron Ave new cycling tracks

Byron is a fairly popular street to bike east – west, avoiding busier roads like Carling and Richmond. When the underground infrastructure had to be updated, the city built 2 x 650 metres of separate raised bike tracks between (roughly) Churchill and Kirkwood. I wrote about this more extensively in this post last week.

Hartwells Locks new MUP

Parks Canada built a a brand new pathway from Prince of Wales north of the existing road towards the locks.

Ottawa cycling infrastructure being built in the Experimental Farm
Thanks Patrick McKay for this awesome picture. Hartwells Locks are on the right, a very busy pedestrian and cycling crossing, which is sadly only 90 cm/3 ft wide. You can see the new path where the long orange construction fence runs. The new connects to Prince of Wales. At the horizon is Gatineau Park and top right is the Claridge tower on Preston and Carling
improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure, where this farm gate and parked cars would often make it difficult to enter
The old entrance to the Rideau Canal at Hartwells Locks
It was time for an upgrade…

I use this connection a lot, coming from Nepean and connecting to the Arboretum pathway to go towards places in the Glebe and downtown. Others use it to go to Carleton U (Hi Pat) or even home in Altavista (hi Kate) or futher south to Greenboro (Hi Matt). The unpaved road to the Locks worked fine for me, but once at the gate, it was often an annoying area with drivers (Carleton U students?) parking their cars in front of the entrance. I have also seen parents (and Uber drivers) picking up students there.

Several cyclists are crossing an historic lock, which is part of improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure

I wrote the City and Parks Canada for changes to the entrance of this World Heritage Site a few years ago, because I thought it was a total embarrassment. My letter likely didn’t cause a stir, but I’d like to think it helped a bit.

Greenfield Ave and Lees new cycling tracks

This is another infrastructure project that allowed the city to add some cycling infrastructure. The new traffic signals on Main and Colonel By were part of this project as was the very north part of Main St. You can find the Greenfield part at the south end of King Edward, turning west.

The city built a separate raised bike track on both sides of Greenfield Ave. I can’t fully understand the drawings though and when I was there I didn’t pay attention to all the details. For example, eastbound the tracks become on road bike lanes again at King Edward. However, turning right on Lees, you’ll find a new multi use pathway going south to an on ramp where you connect to the pathway that runs parallel to the O-train Line 1. The cycling connection on the corner is not separated as the intersection of Mann, Lees and King Edward was not in ‘the scope of the project’. It would be great if that intersection gets an overhaul too.

Strandherd Drive cycling tracks

Strandherd in Barrhaven has been a construction site for a while. It is finally finished and now has separate bike tracks on both sides from Citigate to Jockvale Rd. I didn’t really feel like going out all the way to Barrhaven, but fortunately, Apple updated their aerial views and Google their Streetview images recently, saving me a 30 km bike ride. This completes 4 km of bike track on each side as part of Barrhaven’s improvements for Ottawa cycling infrastructure. No reason to take the car to Costco anymore 🙂

A highway called Strandherd in Barrhaven. Visible are 6 lanes of traffic from a bridge, with sidewalks and raised bike tracks away from the drivers as part of improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure
Strandherd Drive with bike tracks on both sides (Image Google)

Scott Street protected intersections

You’ll likely have noticed work along Scott Street for years. It all seems to go excruciatingly slow. But work is progressing. There were new bike tracks built west of Holland Ave last year, but this year the City finished work on Scott and Holland on a protected intersection and then worked further east on Scott and Parkdale on a protected intersection and beyond. Once finished it will be part of an important Ottawa cycling route, although commuters from further west might still prefer the Ottawa River pathways.

an areal shot of a road called Scott that is getting new cycling tracks as part of improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure
Image: Patrick McKay
A protected intersection with separate cycling infrastructure as part of improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure
The Scott and Holland intersection with Tunney’s Pasture LRT station on your left hand

City Centre Ave cycling tracks

Off Albert St near Bayview Station, City Centre Ave gets you to places like Art-is-in Bakery and Beyond the Pale Brewery. Part of this road has now raised bike tracks in a continued effort to improve Ottawa cycling infrastructure. This was part of a water and sewer update. Popping into Elm Street, we should find a new filter for pedestrians and bicycles next year, but not for drivers to avoid traffic taking shortcuts by bypassing the Albert-Preston intersection. But Elm is not finished so we’ll save that for next year’s overview.

Seprate bike tracks being built along a road called City Centre Ave seen from a drone. as parts of improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure
City Centre Ave (Albert St and Bayview Station are just outside the picture on the left – North). You’ll find new separate raised bike tracks as part of improvements on Ottawa cycling infrastructure. Unfortunately they peter out after Elm St as that wasn’t part of the sewer replacement project. Note the narrowed entrance to Elm and the continued tracks and side walk at centre bottom. You will also find a ‘blob of asphalt’, as a friend called it, on the SW corner of the City Centre/Albert intersection. That blob is probably the entrance to a multi year, multi tower, very multi storey building complex. It is probably not worth rebuilding that corner as construction traffic will ruin it again soon (but this is some speculation). Drone image: Patrick McKay
The old situation where we all hopped on the sidewalk on the right to bypass the barrier if it was safe to do so
The design on the project website shows a proper modal filter for cyclists halfway, creating a nightmare on Elm Street for drivers who are not familiar with the closure.

Walkley station MUP

Off at Walkley next to Walkley station is a short pathway that goes down to the far end of the station (middle picture). From there the pathway runs up to a road called Anand Private (first picture). A short new multi use pathway runs along Anand (right picture). Noteworthy, this is where the very first train tracks in Ottawa were running. I wrote about that first train here.

The path will then cut through a fence, through a parking lot and connects to Bank St at Notting Hill Ave, next to the Starbucks on Bank. Unfortunately, there are no traffic signals at Bank and Notting Hill Ave, so “notting” to see there. The closest lights are about 200 meters away and you really don’t want to cross Bank St there.

You can visit part 2 of this series of new Ottawa cycling infrastructure here. You may also want to take a look at Patrick’s website with a map of upcoming projects.

Cycling elsewhere

  • A bike ride from Cascais to the Atlantic Ocean
    Reading Time: 7 minutes We cycled a stretch of Portuguese coast line from Cascais to the Atlantic Ocean and were surprised to find some very Dutch looking cycling infrastructure.
  • Cycling the Ecopista de Évora in Portugal
    Reading Time: 8 minutes Throughout Portugal you can find an increasing number of dedicated cycling facilities, often called Ecopistas. Recently I wrote about an Ecopista starting in Vizeu in Portugal. This week, we’ll take you on an interesting ride on the Ecopista de Évora in the Portugese province of Alentejo, known for its cork trees, white washed villages, wine and vistas. Many years ago, I visited Évora (the emphasis is on the ‘E’, not on ‘VO‘), an old city in Portugal. It must have been around 1990-1991. I was there for an agricultural trade show and for a visit to a dealership of the [Read more…]
  • A bike ride on the Ecopista do Dão in Portugal
    Reading Time: 7 minutes The Ecopista do Dão wasn’t on the agenda for our trip in Portugal, but we found this gem of a rail to trail in the hinterland of Portugal. Closed for trains in 1988, it is now a paved trail through a lovely, peaceful part of rural Portugal.
  • Escape from Amsterdam: Zutphen
    Reading Time: 4 minutes Most of the cycling images you see on social media are from the western part of the Netherlands. But let me take you to a much more laid back part of the Netherlands.
  • A boat and bike trip in the Netherlands
    Reading Time: 10 minutes Boat and Bike tours are popular in Europe. We tried it for a few days and were positively impressed: while you travel, your hotel travels with you.
  • Cycling in Levis: Picture Perfect Parcours des Anses
    Reading Time: 6 minutes A hidden gem in Quebec: the Levis “Parcours des Anses’ multi use pathway allows for a lovely casual ride along the St Lawrence river.

holly image by Violka Art, drone images by Patrick McKay, plans screenshots from city of Ottawa

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  1. More new cycling infrastructure in Ottawa – part 2 – Hans on the Bike

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