Friday, August 24, 2012

Not a Cycling Path

Ottawa is know for its scenic pathways. The National Capital Commission maintains 300km of pathways through out the region. These are excellent multi-use pathways popular with all manner of folk recreating in just about every imaginable way. Runers, joggers, recreational cyclists, commuters, dog walkers all use and enjoy the pathways in relative harmony. The city of Ottawa has built and is building more pathways as well, on city land, through Hydro cuts and disused railway rights of ways.

The Rideau River Nature Trail is one such project, seaking city funds.

Rideau River Nature Trail 
It is a great initiative, complementing the Rideau River Eastern Pathway. Connecting several parks; Strathcona and Dutchy's Hole parks in the north, Springhurst, Brantwood and Windsor parks to the south. The neighbourhoods of Sandy Hill, Old Ottawa East and Old Ottawa South would also be connected. This would be a great complement to Ottawa's pathway networks.

There are of course several hurdles to overcome before this pathway can be completed. There is the construction of a stadium at the Ottawa U. Lees campus which has temporarly blocked access to the only pedestrian bridge across the Rideau River and access to the Sandy Hill pathway.
North End of Brantwood Park
Pathway Under Transitway

There is the flood prone connection under the Transitway, a yet to be acquired right of way through the privately held Oblate land, between Springhurst and Brantwood parks. There is also a grading issue at either end of Brantwood Park. Still, some work has been done and a small section of pathway has been constructed in Springhurst Park.
New Pathway in Springhurst Park
One small complaint, this is not a pathway suitable for cycling. The stone-dust treatment for the pathway was chosen specifically to discourage cyclists, especially fast commuter cyclists. The desire for a slow-speed nature focused trail is understandable, but I feel misguided. 

Likely Route Already Established
The truth is this is already a popular cycling route. With many families riding through the park despite the poor surface.
Cycling Through Brantwood Park

Lots of Children Cycle to the Park

Not only Cyclists Use the Pathways Scooters Too

Despite Obvious Barriers Cyclists Still Come
I hope this project receives priority and is completed in the next few years. It will be a valuable link between local parks and neighbourhoods. Regardless of the surface treatment I see this being popular with local cyclists, of all ages. If the stone-dust treatment lowers cost and speeds construction, fine. I can accept compromises but if the rational is to discourage cyclists, I would encourage the planers to choose a more durable and cycling friendly surface. No matter what the cyclists will be there.

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