The essence of BikeWest from downtown to Westboro was that it is almost entirely along a straight right of way owned by the City where major planning studies and reconstruction projects will be underway for the next decade. Incorporating BikeWest into these plans is a rare opportunity.
If the western LRT route extends west from Dominion like the BRT, along the Ottawa River parkway, then the BikeWest route should be built along the LRT all the way to Lincoln Fields. The bike route would be on the inland-side of the parkway, leaving the current bike path along the river edge for recreational users. The bike route could double as a service road for accessing the LRT tracks for maintenance. Note that running the LRT along the parkway is returning the parkway land to its origins – it incorporated the former CPR right-of-way, a few traces of which can still be spotted.
At approximately McEwan Avenue, BikeWest would split in two: one grade-separated route would cross under the Ottawa River Commuter Expressway lanes to pick up the existing western bikepath by Mud Lake en route to Britannia and points west.
The other branch of BikeWest would swing south to Lincoln Fields and link up with the existing Pinecrest Creek bike path that goes on to Algonquin College/Baseline and points further south.
The cycling time from Baseline to downtown along the LRT route and BikeWest would be about half the current Parkway path route time, expanding the comfortable safe cycling zone to tens of thousands of new households. The speedier travel time is due to the straighter configuration and shorter route distance than the current riverside paths.
If the LRT route does not follow the parkway, the BikeWest route could be left to end at Dominion Avenue, or it could be extended further west along the Byron right of way. Unfortunately, the Byron strip has a lot of cross streets and the existing path has been designed to make it unappealing to cyclists (it meanders, and is full of sharp turns). The success of BikeWest however does not depend on where it might be extended to, it is justified on its own merits for the downtown-Westboro length.
The opportunity to extend the BikeWest project west is just that, an opportunity. And it should be considered as another project to be examined and addressed separately. BikeWest is a viable concept running from the downtown to Westboro and is not dependent on a westward extension, however logical that extension might seem.
Coming up next: an alternative route opportunity, from the Albert-Slater split to Bayview, and a few elaborations.