.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

Recreational Pathways: A False Sense of Security
By:  Andre Marchand   (2013/08/28)


There are no cars, so how can the recreational path be dangerous?

It is true that a collision with a car will result in a much worse injury than most accidents that can occur on a recreational path. Either way, accidents on the recreational path should, and for the most part, can be avoided.

One of the main causes of scary situations on the recreational path is that there is a large range of speeds sharing one very narrow path. There are no fast and slow lanes, but there are however; walkers, slow runners, fast runners, slow cyclists, fast cyclists, rollerskiers (both classic and skate). To make matters worse, each of these categories may be individual people or large groups of people doing the same thing. Adding to this is the fact that everyone on the recreational path is out there using it for a different purpose. For example, an athlete will be out for a training session, a commuter will simply be trying to get to work, a tourist will be trying to see the sights and finally some people may just be out for a relaxing walk.

The bottom line is that with all these people doing different things at different speeds with a different purpose in mind, the recreational paths are a place that can quickly become quite chaotic! At least on the roads for vehicles, there is a general understanding that people are trying to get from point A to B, and everyone is aware of a clear set of rules.


From my experience, cycling, running and rollerskiing on the recreational pathway, here are a few suggestions I have for staying out of trouble on these skinny roads. What it boils down to is simply a small compromise for all parties sharing the path.



 You guys are the slow ones on the path, if you get into an accident, it will likely be the other faster moving person doing the “hitting”, while you will be the one getting “hit”!

Some tips:

- Stay on the right hand side of the path

- Avoid taking up the entire path

- Be aware of your surroundings

- Look around before moving left or right, especially if you have music on

- Avoid sudden sporadic changes of direction


Slow/Fast Cyclists:

Recreational paths typically have very smooth fast pavement, it can be pretty tempting to race along these winding paths, but the faster you go, the less time you’ll have to react to any sudden change in front of you.

- When passing, leave enough room between you and the person being passed

- Avoid passing on blind corners

- Ride single file when passing

- Don’t be in a rush

Simply avoiding risky situations by passing very wide to leave room for error, or not passing till you can see the coast is clear, is probably the best way to keep the rubber down on your bike.


Classic/Skate Rollerskiers:

We are somewhere in the middle as far as speed is concerned, but the most important thing to remember is that we do not have brakes! Avoiding situations that require sudden stops is the key to our survival on the recreational pathway.

- Be alert of your surroundings and upcoming terrain

- Walk if you are not sure about a downhill

- Keep your poles to yourself


For the runners, bikers and walkers on the path, it is important to be aware that we rollerskiers do not have brakes, so there is not much we can do if you suddenly step in front of us. However, as a rollerskier, you are the one who is responsible for avoiding trouble on your rollerskis.


Overall, if we keep in mind that the recreational paths are a shared place and that when we are using them we are aware of the others on the path, then we can avoid trouble all together.


On a special note, just for the less cautious racers (who are we kidding, most racers), sometimes we are guilty of taking risks to feel that speed and rush of going downhill fast, or cornering quickly, after all that is our job when we are on the race track. Sure it feels pretty cool, but think about what you are risking... if you get into a serious crash, you will miss at least a week or two of training, perhaps more if recovery is slow, or the injury could quite possibly never go away. The off season is an important time to train, and an even more important time to not blow it!

Here is the outcome of me recently racing down the slippery S-turns of the recreational pathway on my bike:   

Yes I was going fast, and Yes I would take a similar speed risk in a ski race, but No it was not worth it in the off season. I got lucky this time, just some road rash, glad I had my helmet on.

Thanks for reading, keep the rubber side down, I know I will try harder to.

Andre M.

Interesting Reading. . .
Interested in supporting XC Ottawa or advertising on our site? Email: info@xcottawa.ca.
© Copyright 2001-2006, www.xcottawa.ca. All Rights Reserved. Contact us before re-publishing anything seen here.