Now that the nice weather is here in Ottawa, and it looks like it’s sticking around, we’ve noticed more and more families out on their bicycles. Spring is the perfect time of year to get outside and go for a ride together. From novice cyclers to those with more seasoned experience, there are many safe, scenic and welcoming bike paths across the city. If you’re worried about vehicle traffic, there are even days when road closures ensure riders have more roadway to enjoy.
We have the scoop on where to take the kids for a bike ride, and a few other biking bits of information that will help you plan your outings. Tune up your bikes, grab your helmets, and enjoy the ride!
Bike Helmets and Learning to Cycle
Every year, the kids seem to need a new helmet as they grow. If your need to fit everyone with helmets, you may want to check out the Ottawa Helmet Discount Weekend on May 5 and 6. Ottawa Public Health has been partnering with sports retailers for seven years during this weekend to provide discounts on helmets required for the kids to wear. This is the perfect time to replace old, too-small helmets.
The City of Ottawa also has a cycling program where kids and adults can learn about bike safety and how to cycle. In partnership with CAN-BIKE, kids of all ages can learn how to ride their bike, the rules of the road and how to feel more comfortable when you hit the paths together.
Bicycle Paths in the Ottawa Area
There are many different paths in the Ottawa area, many of which you can discover by downloading the bicycle map from the NCC. We’ve highlighted a few of these areas for you below, and offered reasons why we think your family will enjoy spending time on these paths.
Nokia Sunday Bike Days
Perhaps one of the most well-known events for cycling in the city, the Nokia Sunday Bike Days, return this spring and summer. Various Ottawa and Gatineau parkways close off to vehicles from May 20th until September 2nd to welcome cyclers to the car-free route for a specific amount of time. In Ottawa, riders can head to the paths between the hours of of 9 am and 1 pm. In Gatineau Park, there are three parkways participating between 6 am and 11 am. Because of special events happening across the City and on those parkways, there may be cancellations some weeks. It’s best to visit the website to confirm which Sundays the paths will be free from vehicles. Ottawa Parkways involved in the Nokia Sunday Bike Days are Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, Colonel By Drive and Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway. With each parkway offering 8 or 9 kilometers of biking paths, the distance is just right for many families.
Ottawa River Pathway
The Ottawa River Pathway (which follows along the Ottawa River, in front of Parliament Hill, past the Canadian War Museum and ends just past, and below, Tunney’s Pasture) is winning a lot of points with riders for the scenery along the way. In addition, families will appreciate the many green spaces and areas to stop along the way for a water break or even a picnic, and if you want to spend time grabbing a bite to eat at a local restaurant, there are options for that as well like Mill Street Brew Pub.
The Experimental Farm Pathway
Ottawa is already fortunate to have a working farm in the middle of the City, so it’s no surprise that a favourite biking trail cuts you right through it. The Experimental Farm Pathway, which will lead you between Woodroofe Avenue and the Canadian Agriculture and Food Museum, offers a varied path between field and farm and City. The kids will likely want to make a detour to the Museum along the way!