Written by Matthew Pearson, Ottawa Citizen
Stephen Blais leans over the handlebars of his bike and looks to the south, where a crew of construction workers is turning a strip of grass along a hydro corridor in the Avalon subdivision into a new multi-use path.
Joggers, cyclists, in-line skaters, dog walkers and folks out for an evening stroll will soon be able to choose it to get from Innes Road to the southern edge of Ottawa’s urban boundary without stepping foot on a busy arterial road.
The path will also intersect with the new east-west Trans-Orléans multi-use path, a 3.2-kilometre link between Millennium Park and transit station on Trim Road to the commercial hub at Innes and Tenth Line roads.
Elsewhere, the Cumberland Village cycling connection will see paved shoulders added to or extended on several rural roads to create an easier and safer connection between the village and Trim Road.
In all, the work represents nearly $5 million in new recreational paths coming to Blais’s Cumberland ward this year, thanks in part to some federal infrastructure money.
“There has been a pent-up demand for these connections,” the city councillor said.
Even though the emphasis of the new pathways is on recreational use, commuter cyclists could theoretically use them to reach a transit station and take advantage of OC Transpo’s rack-and-roll service or head north to the pathway network along the Ottawa River.
The work currently underway on the Avalon north-south pathway, which Blais admits might yet be given a catchier name, fills a critical missing link. Paved pathways are already in place on either end of this one-kilometre stretch, expected to be complete by the fall.
The new routes will also connect to an established path that runs southwest from Innes Road near DuPlateau Street.
For people who live in the heart of the dense suburb, the new pathways will mean they don’t have to rely a car to run simple errands or walk several kilometres out of their way to reach amenities.
“If you’re going to the drugstore to pick up a prescription, you don’t want to have to get in your car if you can walk or bike in 15 minutes,” Blais said.
The lack of quick and easy connections is a common complaint among some suburb dwellers, but Blais said the new pathways will make it much simpler to reach parks, recreation centres, schools, shopping and rapid transit stations.
And they make good use of an unused hydro corridor and land set aside by the city for future transit expansion.
“The hydro corridor is wasted space if you don’t put something there people can use,” he said.
Most people who filled out an online questionnaire about the Trans-Orléans pathway support the project, but many requested the installation of benches, trash cans and lighting. The city said “yes” to benches, but additional garbage cans and pathway lighting aren’t part of the plan.
Read it at ottawacitizen.com.