Ottawa: Sunday Bikedays!

August 6th, 2016

So Ottawa does this awesome thing every Sunday, from mid-May to Labour Day weekend in September, called “Sunday Bikedays” where select highways (or parkways as they’re called in Ottawa) are closed to motor vehicles and open to pedal-power! We were so excited to take part! Though we’ve cycled on highways in Cuba, that was a whole different experience since bikes and horses and buggies are allowed on Cuban highways and there are very few motor vehicles on the roads. However, in Canada bicycles aren’t allowed on four or six lane highways since these roads are generally choked with cars whizzing by at a deadly 120km/hr (or gridlocked at 5km/hr). So being able to ride on a highway is super novel in North America. Though I was a little worried that we’d be the only people on the road, since Ottawa seemed pretty deserted that weekend. But, evidently, everyone was just saving their energy for Sunday Bikeday!

131 Sunday Bikeday - waiting for light

As you can see, the parkway is open to cars traveling eastbound into Ottawa. Just the westbound lanes are closed to cars and open to cyclists.

130 Sunday Bikeday - bikes on Sir John A Parkway (1)

And we’re off! Cyclists of all stripes: road racers, families with kids, casual riders, and two tourists on weird fold-up bikes. 😉 We saw more people cycling on the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway than we’d seen in the city all weekend! And this is just one of FOUR parkways that are open to cyclists for Sunday Bikeday. Apparently the most popular one is in Gatineau, but it’s the longest and we didn’t have time to ride it. Next time. 

We took a short detour off the parkway to the bank of the Ottawa River to check out these neat rock sculptures by John Ceprano.

124 Sunday Bikeday - Pier, Brommies & Rock Sculptures

Note the bike path (aka the Ottawa River Pathway Trans Canada Trail) that runs right alongside the river.

127 Rock Sculptures - me taking pic

Heather taking pictures of the rock sculptures before riding off again.

123 Sunday Bikeday - highway + path (1)

As you can see in the above photo, the Ottawa River Pathway runs beside the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway. In Ottawa, bike lanes parallel to major motorways is normal. So though it’s fun to ride on the parkway, if we couldn’t there’d still be a bike lane RIGHT BESIDE IT. The amount of cycling infrastructure in this city blows my mind!

So we followed the Sir John A MacDonald Parkway (and the bike path) all the way to the Westboro Beach…

133 Westboro Beach Brompton

Then we doubled back to Island Park Drive and turned onto the Champlain Bridge. Halfway across we stopped to check out Bate Island.

135 Bate Island view of Gatineau & Ottawa

From Bate Island, the view of Gatineau and Ottawa across the river. 

Then we continued along the Champlain Bridge into Gatineau and picked up the Voyageurs Pathway, part of Quebec’s La Route Verte trail system, which goes all the way east across Quebec and is totally on our Bromptoning To Do List!

142 Me on Voyageurs Pathway

The path passes over this old rail line where there’s a bridge that crosses the Ottawa River to Lemieux Island and Ottawa. 

Ottawa: Old rail bridge to Lemieux Island (1)

Trains no longer use it, but there are wooden planks along one side for people to cross on foot. Or so we deduced since we saw a couple cyclists and pedestrians cross the bridge. So if you don’t want to go all the way to the Champlain Bridge, this is a shortcut over the river between Gatineau and Ottawa!

148 Me sitting on rail bridge (1)

Back on the Voyageurs Pathway we encountered some Canadian geese crossing (typical) and a canoe sculpture in the Parc des Portageurs.

149 Canada Geese crossing (1)

150 Parc des Portageurs pano (1)

Then we passed under the Portage Bridge…

Ottawa: Graffiti under the Portage Bridge (1)

And came out to a view of Parliament Hill.

Ottawa: Looking toward Parliament from Voyageurs Pathway

And finally the path led us right to the Canadian Museum of History.

Ottawa: Canadian Museum of History

Where we checked out the view of Parliament Hill from the museum’s lookout…

165 Me + Brommies w Ont flag

Then it was back to Ottawa via the Alexandra Bridge to catch our train home.

175 Pier- Back to Ottawa on Alexandra Bridge

All in all, an excellent Sunday Bikeday! If you’re ever in Ottawa, be sure to bring or rent a bike and take advantage of cycling on the parkways on summer Sunday mornings, as well as the scenic, well-maintained and convenient trails that make up the Capital Pathway.

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  • Norm Corriveau

    If you do come back to ride in Gatineau, be prepared for some rather long and somewhat steep hills.

    Reply

    • brom-admin Post author

      So we’ve heard! But our Bromptons are up for the challenge. After all, on our inaugural trip to Cuba, we encountered some insanely steep mountain roads. Bring it on, Gatineau! 🙂

      Reply

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