Regional Cycle Tourism Update
June 27, 2016
Prepared with input from many
The Town of Gananoque has approved the Gananoque Lions Club request to re-purpose a small park just west of the Recreation Centre to mark the 100th anniversary of the Lions International service organization. This park will have picnic tables, benches, bike racks and route maps. It will be an ideal location for beginning cycling day trips through-out the 1000 Islands region.
Also, the Council approved the formation of a steering committee with a mandate to recommend ways to create safer cycling routes through town and enhance the cycling amenities.
1000 Islands Accommodation Partners has a tourism office at the east gates of the town, with bike rentals, adjacent to the western end of the St. Lawrence Rec Trail along the 1000 Islands Parkway corridor.
The Township of Leeds and the Thousand Islands continues to seek funding for a planned cycling path to extend 18km from the Ontario Waterfront Trail at the Ivy Lea Campground, along Cty Rd 3 to Charleston Lake Provincial Park, and eventually to Lyndhurst, another 17km.
Work continues on the interchange of Hwy 137 and the 1000 Islands Parkway to rehabilitate the bridge overpass as well as reconfigure the bridge and interchange to accommodate the St. Lawrence Rec Trail bikeway.
The renovated 37km long St. Lawrence Rec Trail along the 1000 Islands Parkway corridor continues to attract great reviews, strong cycling activity, and weekend visitors who often choose Gananoque’s inns and restaurants.
Discussions regarding improving the western terminus of the St. Lawrence Rec Trail at Cty Rd 2 at Gananoque are underway with a view to improving safety and encouraging family access.
Development of a mountain bike trail network at Jones Creek (along the 1000 Islands Parkway) continues in planning, with budget in place. Stay tuned for more news down the trail.
This region is also the UNESCO designated Frontenac Arch Biosphere and the Biosphere office on the Parkway trail just west of the Ivy Lea Bridge is now also a tourism office – a great place to stop for info, maps, a little natural heritage education, and washrooms.
St. Lawrence College
This summer, St. Lawrence College’s student residences in Kingston, Brockville and Cornwall have joined the Ontario By Bike network and are ideally located for traveling the eastern stretches of the Ontario Waterfront Trail route.
Rideau Heritage Route
A new tour company has been started that includes cycling tours and pedal/paddle tours. Details at www.rideautours.ca The site is still under development but there is some great info available. They’re also working with AHOY rentals in Kingston to coordinate a shuttle service for those looking to paddle or cycle just one direction along the Route.
For those seeking group shuttle and luggage transfer services in Eastern Ontario, the company The Country Shuttle (www.thecountryshuttle.com ) has stepped up to the plate and is serving Velo Quebec and other groups.
Belleville has a new Bike Shop / Cafe / awesome place to hang out. It’s called The Brake Room and it serves as a great place to stop for anyone who is riding in Prince Edward County or in the Belleville area. See: www.thebrakeroom.com
Belleville’s cycling network is also moving ahead with the first segment of bike lanes open and lots more to come.
Also of note is that long time OBB supporters Ideal Bike have opened a new Bike rental and repair drop off location in Wellington, conveniently located in the same building as a new Ice Cream shop called Nice Ice Baby. Ideal Bike will be providing rentals of city bikes and road bikes for riders to explore Prince Edward County. See: http://idealbike.com/
Prince Edward County
The Bloomfield Bicycle Company continues to be the centre of cycling action with suggested routes, a thriving rental business, and a knowledgeable tech crew who service bikes for many while their riders enjoy local coffee shops. See: http://www.torontocyclist.com/bbc/
Lennox & Addington
In addition to their successful paved shoulders policy for all county roads and an extensive selection of mapped cycle touring routes through the county (see www.countytrails.com) , this year they’re running the “Discover L&A Ride” on Sept 24 – an organized tour of the southern part of the county with stops at breweries, historic places, wineries and more.
Kingston By Bike got an early jump on the season and has been busy leading guided historic tours of old Kingston.
The Second Annual Thousand Islands Gran Fondo ride is set to go on September 11 and registrations are rolling in. See: http://tigranfondo.com/
Heritage Bikes and Rentals in Perth now offers bike rentals along with related information and services, including route maps and guided tours (town, countryside or “cultural”).
The King St W segment of the Ontario Waterfront Trail will be under construction this summer for repaving. It will also be reconfigured to add bike lanes in each direction, better serving cycling traffic, while reducing four lanes to two plus a centre left turn lane, helping to calm traffic.
Another upgrade to the Ontario Waterfront Trail route is the placement of a new bridge and a re-opened trail segment along the waterfront, taking trail traffic off a narrow street.
Work continues to expand and renovate the city’s Brock Trail multi-use network, with current additions underway that will link the Ontario Waterfront Trail along the River, through the city to the northern edge and the Mac Johnson Wildlife Area and 11km of trails.
Effort is underway to expand the number of Ontario By Bike registered providers, and for the Downtown Business Improvement Association to gain its “business district” registration as well.
The annual Mississippi Mills Bike Month, festival, rides and events continue to draw people from across the region and especially Ottawa, and helped Mississippi Mills become Ontario’s 30th Bicycle Friendly Community. See: https://mmbm.ca/
Ottawa Based Events
There are a number of annual events starting/ending in Ottawa that take riders through rural Eastern Ontario. These events draw from far and wide beyond Ottawa, and introduce riders to the delights of the rural landscape and smaller centres in Eastern Ontario. These events include the Ottawa Bike Club’s Rideau Lakes Cycle Tour to Kingston and back, with a shorter version starting/ending in Perth, various charity rides to Kemptville, Merrickville or Cornwall, and the newest big one, the GranFondo Ottawa Reggio Cappitale. It starts/ends in Kanata and rolls through Lanark and Renfrew counties with routes of several distances. For the GranFondo, see: http://granfondoottawa.org/en/home/
Paved Shoulders Update
In Eastern Ontario, the counties of Lennox & Addington; Lanark; and Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry continue to benefit from their paved shoulders policies, saving on annual maintenance costs and helping to provide safe passage for active transportation. No action from Leeds Grenville.
Cycle Tourism Broad Brush
Rural Eastern Ontario seems to be holding its own with cycle tourism numbers – both organized groups and independent travelers – even as cycle friendly destinations and routes across Ontario develop ever more quickly.
Prince Edward County, Kingston and Gananoque continue to attract weekend and club visits from Toronto. Ottawa riders and club groups keep coffee shops and other providers busy in Perth, Mississippi Mills, Smiths Falls, Merrickville, Kemptville and Cornwall. Montreal groups tend to follow the St. Lawrence and explore Cornwall, Prescott, Brockville and Gananoque.
Of course, the Ontario Waterfront Trail route sees the most activity, with the Rideau Lakes route from Kingston to Ottawa (the “cruise route”) being a close second. This latter route is a beautiful ride through markedly varied landscapes and, like The Greenbelt Route, would be a good addition to the Ontario Waterfront Trail network someday.