The new pathway at the historic Hartwells Locks

an image of a lock with the text "a new pathway at Hartwells Locks
Reading Time: 4 minutes

It was built without fanfare late last year but this new connection is a welcome addition between Prince of Wales Drive and the Hartwell Locks.

Many a cyclist has been struggling with illegally parked cars at the gate that leads to the Hartwells Locks. Not only was there crummy access to begin with, it was often blocked by people who -likely- had to be at Carleton U nearby and used the tiny parking lot at the Hartwells Locks as a convenient place to park, right in front of the no parking sign.

It didn’t really change much when paid parking was introduced and even somewhat tighter oversight didn’t seem to change behaviour.

Parks Canada listened

I am sure I wasn’t the only one complaining about this crappy access to a World Heritage Site and finally someone at Parks Canada and/or the Experimental Farm listened. You never really know who to approach in Ottawa with the many jurisdictions, but including the councillor is always a good idea by the way, in this case Councillor Brockington.

Entire new pathway

I had hoped for a wider and better designed entrance to the locks at the parking lot, but we got a lot more than we asked for: no less than an entire new pathway just north of the access road from Prince of Wales.

I have noticed though that not everyone has figured out the new path. I think that is partly because it is not very clear. The path starts behind one of the storage sheds which is a bit hidden.

I have created the path already in Open Street Map, so apps like Komoot, that pull data off OSM, include it already. But Google Maps is not that fast so I thought I’d share some pics and a quick map.

Go straight on the pathway after crossing the locks

If you cross the locks westbound, rather than turning left towards the parking lot, go straight. Don’t even take the desire line that Parks Canada tried to reseed a few years ago and everyone went like “Who are you kidding”? Then just follow that path passing the bike racks and bike uphill and towards the lights.

Go straight west after the locks, not on the desire line on the left
Careful: the sight lines are not great at the intersection
The path goes gradually uphill. There is a bit of a drainage issue near the top when it rains, so careful in the fall and watch for possible ice
The path continues parallel to the access road. You can sneak on to the road at the right of the gate, but why would you?

If you come from the Experimental Farm heading towards the locks, turn left onto the path right after you’ve crossed the lights at the Prince of Wales intersection. Be very careful for drivers in cars behind you who might just start to pass you.

Coming from the Farm, the pathway is on your left

Too be honest, I would have been happy already with the shortcut that leads to the top part of the access road where the farm gate is so I am pleased to see it was extended much further. I am not sure why they bothered with the posts, all hand stained once in place. All grass around every single post is cut regularly with a whipper snipper.

Hug the yellows till it’s green

By the way, not everyone seems to have figured this out, but the yellow dots at Prince of Wales are programmed for farm vehicles. The waiting time is often really short (during work hours) and much faster than the pedestrian button. So stop on the yellow dots and don’t leave them until the light is green. If you leave too early, the software assumes you have turned right already and it won’t give you a green light.

The next frontier

End of May, on a Sunday morning at around 11 am, I was at Hartwells Locks. It was a glorious day for cycling and I counted 100 cyclists in 20 minutes crossing the locks. Unfortunately, several older people were struggling with their 50 pound e-bike to lift it across the locks, so that is the next frontier for advocacy: accessibility of the locks. The two steps just don’t cut it anymore in this day and age.

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  1. 100% on need for Hartwell locks to support e bikes and their older adult owners. With our e-assist bikes, we have avoided that crossover for the last several years. Before that we relied on the kindness of strong and fit stranger cyclists.

    • Fortunately, strong and fit stranger cyclists aplenty at the locks usually. May I suggest you write to Parks Canada and councillor Brockington to create awareness of this issue?

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