A cyclist has been taken to hospital in critical condition after riding into a gap in a metal drainage grid.

Ottawa paramedics say the 64-year-old was riding through the Brittania Yacht Club around 3:45 p.m. when his front wheel went into the gap.

He was thrown to the ground, shattering his helmet on impact.

Passerby gave him first aid as he went into shock, according to the news release.

He sustained severe facial injuries and potential spinal cord injuries. Paramedics say he was alert and breathing, but couldn't feel his hands or feet.