Canada’s Bicycle Pathways: Some Roads Lead to Ottawa

Ottawa Fixie Bike Pathways

Ottawa, often overlooked, is one of Canada’s premier bike cities. With routes all along the Rideau Canal, out to the neighboring suburbs, and through the city, there are plenty of options for fixie bike riders to explore. Ottawa’s bike path system was one of the first in the world to be mapped out by Google. The system encompasses almost 200km of paths in the Ottawa region with a clear focus on leading the cyclist through city parks, national sites and general points of interest in the city.

The system makes it simple to take a day trip out to Kanata, Orleans, or across the bridge to Hull, plan a weekend fixie bike museum-hop, or simply enjoy canal riding along the waterfront pathways. Along the way it is easy to stop in at a café, restaurant or bar to safely park your bike.

Bike theft in Ottawa has been decreasing since 2005, even as the cycling population grows and more people take to the roads. Downtown Ottawa still sees the highest rate of theft, but increasing police attention is beginning to curb it somewhat. If you live in the area, check out “Operation Identification” which offers free engraving of your bike to help deter would-be thieves. 

Biking in Ottawa, perhaps understandably, is mainly geared towards tourist and leisure expeditions, as the biking commuter has to brave the busy streets of downtown alongside cars. As it stands now, most downtown streets are left without lanes. However, interest in building new bike lanes is surfacing among city council members and Ottawa major Jim Watson. Earlier this month a two year study of a proposed dedicated bike lane on Laurier Street was completed, and a report heads to council this month. A notable highlight from the upcoming report is that bicycle ridership in Ottawa has increased over as more people learned about – and felt comfortable with – the segregated lane. This is on the heels of the completion of the $2.9 million O-Train multiuse pathway to connect cyclists and pedestrians with local transit options. Keep it up Ottawa!

From Ottawa and want to share your thoughts on how it stands up as a bike city? Let us know!

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  • Ottawa is a great biking city, but there’s a lot more to do to make it even better! It’s very true that the major paths are geared for recreation. However, cyclist commuters and joggers overtake them in the early hours of the day, so they get quite busy. The city’s making a great effort to improve the conditions and they’ve been listening to cyclists. It’s slow work and easy to get frustrated, but when you take a step back, there’s been definite progress. The o-train path linking Carling to the water’s edge in the north is one good example. These sorts of utilitarian connections are what Ottawa really needs.

    T on
  • I love Ottawa’s bike paths … I have been riding my “Knight” on it for a few weeks now and it is such a smooth riding!!!

    Dom on
  • Hi, that’s a very accurate synopsis on biking in Ottawa. As your article mentioned this city’s extensive biking infrastructure was developed with an emphasis on scenic tourist routes versus local commuters. To encourage bike commuting I have been testing out safe routes from various parts of town and then map them out on my biking blog.

    Brian on

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