Pathways of the Slippery Eel

I got several inquiries about the pathways proposed for LeBreton Flats. Some of this is due to the mess during the temporary transitway shift over to Albert Street, which blocks the popular Albert multi-user path )MUP). And the aqueduct path was removed about two years ago for soil remediation north of the aqueduct. And the closure of Booth going to Gatineau left some users upset.

So let’s review the current plans for pathways in the Flats and around Pimisi Station, now under construction. This plan comes to me via LS, a regular reader: now revised and updated (16 April):

Pimisi paths (1) pdf


Albert runs east-west along the bottom of the picture, bordered on both sides by separated-from-traffic cycle tracks, which are to be built behind the curb, on the same level as the sidewalks, like the Churchill Avenue model. These facilities for people who cycle and walk won’t be constructed until 2018-19, assuming there is money and the plans remain the same.

The final location of the cycle tracks east of Empress St / The Good Companions Centre isn’t fully known either. A connection to the Laurier Avenue separated bike lanes, via a new crossing of the Ottawa Tech HS playing fields, will rearrange the facilities shown here. Hopefully there is some coordination going on behind the scenes. And I hope the soon-to-be-implemented connection doesn’t become permanent in the Albert-Slater-Bronson intersection area as that whole area needs a rethink and rebuild.

Going back to the drawing above, there is a new multi-user path parallel to Albert Street, along the south edge of the new Confederation Line LRT.  It is shown first as purple, then orange, then purple again, depending on who is building it and when. But all segments are supposed to be open when the LRT opens in 2018. That new path goes under Booth Street, utilizing the Pimisi Station & new elevated Booth Street overpass. The path then curves south to connect with Albert-Slater at the Good Companions intersection.

A new north-south link is shown in conceptual terms connecting the pathways at the Empress – Good Companions intersections northwards to Lett Street, in front of the new brown brick condos Claridge is building on LeBreton Flats. There is actually a stub of concrete sidewalk already built extending from the end of Lett southwards towards the aqueduct pathway.

There are pathways shown on both sides of the aqueduct. These are to open by 2018.

The pathway on the south side of the aqueduct is sandwiched between the LRT tracks and the aqueduct. It goes through the plaza forecourt on the north side of the LRT Station (the sketch below does not show the pathways on the south side of the Station, but the maps do show them there):

colour image4

Presumably both people who walk and people who bike will be able to go through the 27 foot-wide underpass under the Pimisi Station to connect to the (not shown) pathway on the south side of the tracks, or cut left over the heritage Booth Street stone bridge (which will remain, about 16′ below the new Booth elevated overpass) to get to the north side of the aqueduct, onto the Flats, or via a short temporary pathway segment eventually onto Booth Street’s east side.

Pimisi paths (1) pdf


For the area east of the new Pimisi Station, pathway users on both sides of the aqueduct will join up to a single pathway running behind Lett Street and the new brown condos. The pathway behind the condos should be in place this summer, as part of the landscaping by Claridge. This path will connect to Fleet Street Mews and Pooley’s Bridge, a non-car bridge connection to the downtown; or users may continue behind the yellow brick condos to join the alignment of Wellington Street by the Mill Street Restaurant.

Backtracking a bit, note that the pathway map shows a connection over the Broad Street heritage stone bridge, just west of the Pimisi Station. This connection will help handle Canada Day and Bluesfest crowds, provided some right of way is built out to Wellington and the War Museum. Note that in the long-term plans, this Broad alignment connects with existing paths over the LeBreton park and up and over the War Museum (provided the security gate is open) and then connects to the to-be-repaired bridge over the dams on the Ottawa River leading out to the Zibi development by Windmill on the Islands. All this assumes, of course, that plans will continue to be implemented and coordinated. I am a tad pessimistic, since we already lost the connection from Broad to Rochester Street as there is no crossing of the LRT tracks at that location (yes, the underpass at the Pimisi will help, but it is a deviation in the straight line route). There is also no legal crossing of Albert Street at the Broad-Rochester alignment either, as it would upset people who drive and people who plan mainly for people who drive.

Pimisi paths (1) pdf


I am pleased to see an ongoing pathway linkage from Albert – Preston intersection northwards to the pathway on the south side of the LRT alignment. This is along the temporary Preston Extension route. It does not cross the Confederation Line tracks, nor the aqueduct, nor get all the way out the River, as it does now. I guess some neighbourhoods are more deserving than others to get new or continued access to the glorious waterfront parklands.

So, east-west is well cared for with an abundance of pathway facilities: cycle tracks on Albert (post 2018) and pathways by 2018 on both sides of the LRT corridor and the aqueduct. New north-south connections are in a few short segments. We just have to survive until that time.

The elephant on the bicycle, of course, is the lack of north-south connection at Booth Street – Pimisi Station.  Going north on Booth from Albert or the neighbourhoods, suicidally-inclined people on bikes are faced with a really busy intersection at Albert, then six lanes of roadway at Pimisi Station with no cycle tracks or lanes. Simply appalling.

The last I heard, the city was considering making the Booth sidewalks of asphalt, and declaring them multi-user paths, like the “sidewalks” on the side of the Preston Extension. Dismounting would be required to walk past the Station loading platforms themselves, lest people who ride transit become skittles for those who ride bikes.




3 thoughts on “Pathways of the Slippery Eel

  1. You should talk to CharlesAM (don’t remember his full last name, it’s really long), about the pathway E of Empress. The work on this is set to go this year if nothing has changed, and then they’re going to re-work it once they rework the intersection after the LRT construction is complete.

  2. These ill-thought out ideas of shoving incompatible modes together – cyclists and pedestrians – at locations like Booth Street at Pimisi Station are doing little more than providing fodder for the arguments of the most trenchant vehicular cyclists. Does anyone seriously believe that cyclists are going to dismount at Pimisi Station? There isn’t statutory authority to compel it anyway. The powers-that-be seem to have gone from equating bikes with cars to equating bikes with pedestrians. The idea of treating bikes as bikes never seems to enter into it.

    Is it really so difficult to observe that bikes have roughly the operational characteristics with respect to manoeuvrability and ability to stop of cars, the vulnerability of pedestrians and speeds somewhere in between, along with a definite preference to maintaining momentum, and then to design accordingly?

  3. Does everyone reading your post understand that the word Pimisi is Anishinaabe for “eel”? The American eel (no species called Canadian eel exists) was once abundant in the Ottawa River. I think the author understood this connection but not sure readers would have picked up on it.

Comments are closed.