There is a number of Ottawa cycling maps available for the region both on line and on paper/PDF. Each has its own purpose. The City of Ottawa produces a large folding map you want to have, but perhaps not when you are biking as it is big and cumbersome (see image above). You also don’t always want to stop and check a route on a 4 inch screen in the bright sun. Here are some tools.
Start with this map that I created for those who are less familiar with the cycling network in Ottawa. Read more on why and how I created it in this background document. I created a map that shows less detail but comes in very handy to understand where the paths are and how they connect. You can print it on an 8.5″ x 11″ paper and take it with you.
It gives you a good overview of the network of multi use pathways because I only drew the MUPs that are connected to each other. The map covers an area of 25 km x 15 km (15 miles x 9 miles). Use the map to design your own routes. Note I am not showing on-road bike lanes, just pathways away from roads, with a few exceptions in residential areas to close a loop. As there is no way finding on the ground to speak of, you may have to guess sometimes, or simply ask others.
Multi Use Pathways Ottawa Cycling maps, node based
We have more pathways then I show on the map above, but they tend to be stand alone pathways, which doesn’t help you if you want to go for a nice loop. I choose to base the map on nodes, like in the Netherlands. As I mentioned, there are no way-finding signs in Ottawa to speak of, so I used nearby landmarks to name the nodes much like metros and subways systems do. So yes, we have more pathways than you see on the map, but no, I didn’t included those pathways that don’t connect to another pathway. If you want to do some serious exploration, check out my post on the 796 km Log Driver’s Waltz gravel loop outside Ottawa.
Joint Ottawa/Gatineau/NCC map
The City of Ottawa, together with the NCC and the Ville de Gatineau print a map covering the entire region. In spring, they appear along the pathways in a special stand, where you can also find a map behind Plexiglas to orient yourself. An electronic version can be found here.
Heritage Canada map
Available at tour operators such as Escape Bicycle Tours when you rent a bike, this Heritage Canada map is actually printed for drivers, but comes in handy for cyclists too. It doesn’t include the cycling network, but the map covers an area around the core and is not too big to carry with you. Here is a copy below if you are interested (photo of a Heritage Canada map). Tourism Ottawa might give them out too.
Subway style bike map for the fun of it
Around the time we were all in lock down in December 2020, I spent much of my time reading up on how subway maps are designed. I learned a lot and put it into action by creating a fun subway style bicycle map of the National Capital region. Here is the PDF that you can print out if you want. Here is how I made it.
Electronic Ottawa Cycling maps
Bike Ottawa, Ottawa’s local bicycle advocacy group, has a number of very useful maps available if you are looking for a level of stress. The interactive maps allow you to choose easy and quiet roads, or more challenging ones traffic wise etc. Choose level 2 if you want to play it safe. Go to the Bike Ottawa Maps site here. There is also a route planner, a winter cycling map and even a ‘desire line’ map.