Archive for the ‘bicycles’ Category
It has been a while since I have written anything under this heading. We just returned from a trip to New York. Given all the press attention it has received, we could hardly ignore the new bike sharing system known there as citibikes after its sponsor. (In London people refer to them as “Boris Bikes” rather than “Barclays Bikes”). I visit New York quite a bit as my son lives there, and have got to know my way about Manhattan. I have also now visited Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island too: the Bronx I am saving for later. As with Paris, my first instinct was to try and get everywhere by subway, but I soon learned its limitations. “The only way to get across town is to be born there.” Like most visitors, there’s a lot of walking – and “flaneuring” – too.
A lot of people got very upset when these stations started appearing. I think they are neat and tidy, but what they seemed to do was take away that precious commodity – on street parking spaces. In fact, very few people can actually use on street spaces, since there are so few of them and much of the curb space is needed for deliveries. All over Manhattan much space is taken by large black limousines and SUVs waiting for passengers (livery cars are an important part of the transportation system but are not taxis). The price of off street parking is of course ridiculous – and much traffic is simply circling looking for an on street spot.
I am writing about my experience and this is not intended as a detailed critique of the system. There is plenty on line about how to use the system, but as usual the PR folks have made the process look a lot easier than it is in practice. It is not just a question of sliding in your credit card. There are a number of screens that you have to go through and on line forms to fill in. One good thing is that the screen accepts CA as the country code in default of a zip code. That is not possible at other terminals, like ticket vending machines at subway stations – or self serve gas pumps. My partner found that after going through the entire process it simply failed – something we also experienced in Paris. I managed to use two different credit cards for two separate bikes: I think you can register more than one bike at a time, but this seemed easier if we wanted to use them at a docking station later.
Getting the bike is simple. Having completed the registration process, you get a five digit code to punch into a dock – the buttons are on the left hand side – and a green light comes on to tell you to take the bike. This is time limited. Returning is equally simple. Push the front wheel into the dock until the green light comes on.
As you might expect, there are times when the stations are full of bikes – which makes it easy to rent hard to return. Equally we would have used the bikes more often but either the station was empty or not co-operating. We saw one man with a citibike key fob that he could put into the dock, but it refused to give up its bke. And that would have left only one for the two of us. I did not feel like using my card in a system that was behaving like that, but maybe the bike had been reported damaged. Yes, you can do that (“notify us by pushing the white wrench button on the top of the dock”) I do not recall seeing that very useful tool in Paris.
I strongly recommend the use of a smart phone or tablet to find bikes and stations. Like car2go it is not exactly essential but makes life a lot easier. I would also, like car2go too, not rely on the system exclusively. You will still need a Metrocard, and do not neglect the ferry system either. The Staten Island ferry is free, and the East River ferry only $4, which is still great value.
Contrary to the instructions, these bikes were simply left while the people who had rented them went and looked at the carousel in Central Park. If they had been stolen while they were in there, it would have cost them plenty. Even citibike say that for protracted periods, conventional bike rentals are a better deal. Since it costs $9.95 for a 24 hour pass, it is actually cheaper to rent if you do not intend to make a large number of trips. The first thirty minutes do not incur an extra fee so you can keep swapping bikes – but then you have t be able to find them when you need them. We would have got much more use out of our membership if bikes had actually been available when and where we needed them.
While we were looking at a bike station near Central Park, we were approached by a sidewalk salesman for one of the bike rental companies, offering a very attractive deal. And, this being New York, you could always try haggling.
We also saw bike share in Denver. Interestingly this one is sponsored by Kaiser Pemanente one the larger HMOs
We did not use this. Partly because it was so hot, but also because there is a free bus shuttle through downtown, which we used a lot, and everything we wanted to see in the two days we were there was within walking distance
The weakest component on the Velib bikes in Paris is the seat adjustment. Denver has adopted a much more robust approach
That has been my view for a long time – but the title is taken from a “Friday Feature” in the Richmond News. Although I no longer live there, I still find that I go there quite a lot. The airport, picking up parcels from couriers who did not find me at home, car servicing, the doctor … the list is quite long. I have not tried to get there by bike. Though it would be straightforward enough, and with bike racks on buses, easy to avoid Vancouver’s hilly bits. But if I am going to use transit anyway, why hamper myself with a bike? We also still like walking on the dyke. And at one time we used to put the bikes on the car rack and go further. I am not sure why that has not been happening of late. I feel a Bicycle Diary coming on but I will leave that for later.
Richmond ought to be great for cyclists as it is as flat as a billiard table. There has long been a cycling committee there – and I am afraid that they have not achieved very much. If you remove the use of the dyke – which is much more about recreation than transportation – then there is actually not much cycling in Richmond. It is still very much a car oriented suburb and what facilities there are, were grudgingly conceded. Or pushed by the availability of funding from Translink or extracted from developers. Few bike lanes – lots of sharrows. And one or two paths shared with pedestrians and unpaved.
There is a pretty fair summation in the News piece. It would not have gone amiss to have pointed out that the No 3 Road lane was separated and raised – for some of its length, but ruined by incompetent paving and never corrected. The best example of arterial road reorganization is still Williams Road. For much of its length the traditional four lanes of traffic has been reduced to two with a centre turn lane and bike lanes each side. This gets altered at intersections, with no priority for bikes, and actually improves traffic flow, just as separated bike lanes have done in Vancouver. It also should stop on street parking – but is not well enforced.
The biggest issue for me is that after twenty years of “demonstration” it has not been replicated and should have been. Critical intersections like Granville at Garden City, or Shell at Hwy 99 remain diabolical for cyclists.
The News does not expect much to change any time soon and I think they are right. The City Council is very secure and is unlikely to face any great challenge at the ballot box, so smugness rules. They will not change and no-one seems likely to make them.
This analysis by an ethicist of the evidence for bike helmet legislation would be worth reading in any event. But over the weekend there was a contentious – if not actually mendacious – opinion piece in the Sun taking the opposite view and supporting it by very selective references to long refuted “evidence”. I am not linking to that. If you want to search and pay for someone else’s opinion that’s your privilege. Though I do wonder why there seems to be an anti-cycle policy at PNG.
But I do think it is worth quoting the banner
“Helmets do not provide sufficient protection to warrant the claim that they are highly effective – and the right to cycle bare-headed is by no means trivial”
I do wear a helmet, simply because I do not wish to get a ticket. Note too that in Vancouver, the local bylaw applies to parks and bike paths that are not subject to the Motor Vehicle Act. I have had a bike crash – actually with another cyclist, on a bike path. I came off, broke my wrist and the helmet made absolutely no difference.
This is our regular Sunday morning walk in the summer. And usually, when I post pictures to flickr I post them as a set and, more often than not, and quite a bit of text to the set description. The new layout means that now, nobody else can even see what I write there. Really, really stupid and insensitive to how people use flickr – not that they care. So if you follow me on flickr this blog post duplicates what is on there, and the text now appears there under each image. And I know there are cyclists who follow this blog, so it is not at all off topic.
My partner says she can see the tents from Arbutus Street when we drive past. That is because 11th Avenue is closed to traffic.
I have seen cricket and baseball being played at this location at the same time. But not this week.
As you can see, there is a large poster “Free and Safe Bicycle Parking” – so of course I had to ask why they were doing this.
They said they did not feel comfortable NOT paying at the Free parking – which actually asks for a $2 per bike donation (see next picture). They also said that it was a lot quicker to reclaim their bikes when they needed them.
But the young woman woman in the white shirt said it best: “We saw this space and it spoke to us.”
Well that doesn’t sound so bad. Though it seems to work a like PBS. I wonder how many people (like me) just don’t pay. Mind you, I walked both ways. My bike is in the locker downstairs, and I did not even think about getting it out.
And this was at eleven o’clock. However, other trucks use different techniques to deal with crowds.
I got a poached eggs sandwich (with bacon and cheddar) but then had to wait ten minutes while it was prepared. So there is no line up for Yolk’s, but just as many folks waiting. Just not standing in line.
There is a dearth of seating and shade here.
One of the guys from Yolk’s having his lunch.
The grassy knoll viewpoint
Under that white tent are UBC students offering free bike tune-ups. And they do mean free. Although there is still an opportunity to donate if you really insist.
Jeffrey Tumlin at SFU City Program
Eight simple, free transport solutions for healthier, wealthier cities
This talk was made possible financially by a contribution from Translink. The blog post was updated on February 15 to include two videos, one of the talk and one of the Q&A session.
It is worth stating out the outset that Tumlin sees Vancouver as the future for the rest of North America. The talk he gave was clearly one designed for the average American city. He stated that he felt he was “visiting the future” by what has been done in the City of Vancouver. The problem for most places is that they bought into the lie that having a car will bring you more and better sex. “Where have you been told lies?” And, how can we use their methods against them.
The first series of slides illustrated the startling growth of obesity by state in the last thirty years. The Centers for Disease Control have data that shows how this problem has grown
The animated map below shows the history of United States obesity prevalence from 1985 through 2010. Unfortunately the way WordPress has imported this graphic has lost the animation but it is well worth following the link above to see the trend.
Americans are no longer able to have a significant amount of walking in the daily lives. This is due to civic policies – the rules, metrics and performance standards – that make it illegal to build anything but auto oriented suburbs.The statistics for traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents show that sprawl = death.
“Road rage is a clinical condition”. When you observe a crowded sidewalk you notice that pedestrians do not run into each other. We learned a large number of essential social signals in order to hunt in packs. In cars these social signals are blocked and the brain chemistry shuts down social behaviour, because instead of co-operating the way pedestrians do, the fight or flight instincts have been triggered [by andrenaline]. Traffic is literally driving us crazy and leading to permanent changes in the brain. We are less able to think, to predict the consequences of aggression and therefore become more antisocial. Tea Party membership is positively correlated to the absence of sidewalks.
Policy ought to recognize the limitations of humanity and what makes us happy. That translates in urbanity to the sidewalk suburbs of two to three story buildings. The suburbs we built in the 1920s and ’30s were leafy, walkable and auto optional. We have to increase the number of walkers and cyclists, not just build things for the “hard core lifer crowd”. See D Appleyard “Liveable Streets” [the link goes to Amazon, but this book is very expensive - look in your local library first].
The speed and volume of traffic on residential streets determines who you know and how well you know them. If the traffic is fast and heavy, there will be far fewer people who you are likely to give your keys to, for use in emergencies. Social cohesion and participation in democracy increases when residential streets have less and slower traffic, making it safe and easy to cross the street.
There is a direct casual relationship between mental health and outdoor exercise. Oxytocin “the cuddle chemical” that is released during breast feeding and orgasm is also released by human eye contact and outdoor exercise. It is different to dopamine, endorphins and morphines as it lasts longer.
So now we have has established that driving makes us fat and angry, while walking and cycling makes us happy and sociable, what can we do?
1 Measure What Matters
We need to “measure transportation success in a less stupid way.” Transportation is not an end in itself but allows other things to happen – and it is those activities that we need to facilitate – the benefits come from accessibility not mobility. Movement of itself doesn’t serve a purpose. Instead of measuring Level of Service on shopping streets we should look at retail sales per square foot. We are obsessed by congestion, which means currently we aim to reduce vehicle delay when what we should be looking at is quality of service. A busy shopping street (he cited Market St in San Francisco but Robson Street would be our best case) looks “bad” from the point of view of the traffic engineer (LoS F) but successful to the economist – lots of people spending money.
Make walking a pleasure for all types of people at all times of day.
2 Make traffic analysis smart
[Four step transportation] “Models are no better than tarot cards at predicting the future.” Traffic forecasting is much better seen as a branch of economics than of engineering. What we see all around us are the unintended consequences of model based planning. Making it easier to drive makes it difficult to do anything else. The “solutions” (more road) create the problem they predicted.
We should fix the four step model as it fails to incorporate induced and latent demand. We also need to better understand how land use affects travel – not simply import data from observations of trip generation made in Florida in the 1970s.
Fortunately, only small changes in traffic demand are need to release it from congestion. You will frequently hear people saying “You can’t expect everyone to take transit” but you do not need to. All you need to do is persuade 10% to change mode – and you can persuade 10% of the people to do anything!
3 The best transportation plan is a good land use plan.
4 Adopt the right street design manual
Much of current traffic engineering practice comes from rural highways. Wider roads, better sight lines wider turns accommodate driver error – but this only improves safety in rural areas. In urban areas instead of speeding traffic, drivers must be made to slow down and pay attention. Do not give them a false sense of security. And there is now plenty of data that shows what people predict (“you’re gonna kill people”) doesn’t happen. see nacto.org
5 Plant trees
But note that the costs cannot accrue to the traffic department but the property owners along the street if the trees are to be cared for properly
6 Price it right
Congestion pricing in Stockholm
“Poor people place a high value on their time”. The price elasticity of demand means that it is actually very easy to get enough [vehicle] trips off the road to produce free flow. The right price is always the lowest price that equates demand with supply.
7 Manage parking
Read Donald Shoup ”The High Cost of Free Parking” (free pdf).
In urban centres, 30% of the traffic is looking for a parking spot.
The price for parking has to vary by location and time of day – popular places at peak times must cost more. The target price is that which produces enough free spaces to reduce driving. The reason for charging for parking is not to raise money. Invest the parking revenues in making the place better – give it to the Downtown Improvement Association!
Unbundle and share parking, and separate the cost of parking from the cost of other things. Don’t force people to buy more parking than they need and create “park once districts” – rearrange the land use to facilitate walking. So for a series of trips drivers can pay, park and leave the car but visit several different types of activity (work, school, play, shopping).
8 Create a better vision of the future
We are still trying to live in the future that GM displayed in Futurama. Disneyland is an orgy of transportation. The imagineers have yet to come up with a new vision of the city of the future. We are still stuck with the Jetsons.
The new vision has to be based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
1 Walking is a pleasure for everyone, everywhere, all the time
2 Cycling is comfortable for people of all ages – that means separated cycle facilities
3 The needs of daily life are a walk away
4 Transit is fast, frequent, reliable and – above all – dignified.
Everyone knows and loves their neighbourhood whereas the big region is impersonal. We need a sense of belonging. Food and energy are local and precious, and social networks are fostered.
“On a bus I can use my smart phone. I can’t do that while driving”
“Young people move to cities to get laid.”
Flirtation is actually more valuable than the activity it is aimed at getting. Informal lingering and eye contact is what makes this possible. We should apply the same factors that retailers do in the shops to the pubic realm. Beauty is ubiquitous. The brain is hard wired to appreciate beauty [insert slide of Brockton Point view of downtown]
He also has a [very expensive] book Sustainable Transportation Planning
Q & A
Use of malls to encourage walking by seniors in poor weather? - fantastic
Use fruit trees in urban areas? – city concerns are fallen fruit mess and risk of slipping
Can’t we just use nostalgia instead of a powerful vision of the future? – no humans crave novelty, nostalgia is not enough
Buildings without Parking? – The cities fear that someone will park in front of someone else’s building, and impose minimum parking standards that are excessive. There is an over provision of space = huge subsidy to motordom. Abolish the minimum parking standards. Impose very low maximum parking standards but provide shared cars everywhere.
How do we address the concerns of the Fire Chief? – respectfully. Emergency response time matters but we need to focus on net public safety. There are more ways than one to cut response times, including more stations, smaller trucks, traffic signal priority, grid of streets to provide more routes to the fire. Over professionalism is a widespread issue and we all need to care more about what matters to other people
“I saw you” ads seem always to refer to transit. Can we capitalize on that? - Leave it to the French. look at Strasbourg trams – no wraps, low windows. In the US there is a prevailing attitude that transit is the mode of last resort. Transit is like the dole – you have to be made to suffer to use it.
“Dignify transit” How do you do that on a bus? – provide a comparable level of investment as you would for rail. Very hard for financially strapped transit agencies faced with the “Sophie’s choice” between better buses or more service. There is now a program of providing basic mobility for those who have no choice. To move beyond that we have to ensure that the benefits of better transit accrue to the system provider not the adjacent land owners. Benefit capture pays for more transit [and creates a beneficent spiral]
To make bus transit more comfortable you need more transit priority measures – bus stop bump outs, bus lanes, signal priority
Zurich – all surface transit since local funding requirements meant that subway building was not feasible. Streets are narrow – treasured ancient urban fabric – so very little road space allowed for cars despite extremely wealthy population 80% of whom use transit simply because it is more convenient than the car – no hassle of parking.
Orange Line BRT in LA exceeds all ridership forecasts because there are no forced transfers. And service quality offers “basic level of dignity”.
Boulder CO has very high rates of transit use – all bus service, all low density development – very high service standards
None of this should be of any surprise to readers of this blog. I have been saying the same things here – and for many years previously. I just have not had the fortune to be able to say it with such charm and charisma – and often with less supporting data.
For instance, when BC Transit (as it was then) was designing what became the 98 B-Line Glen Leicester (then head of planning) insisted on the forced transfer from local service (“It’s just like SkyTrain”) despite the very convincing data from the Ottawa transitway that this was the wrong thing to do. The service had to be redesigned three months after it started.
I have been banging on about Richmond’s use of private parking provision in the town centre for years. And only the “hard core lifer crowd” would think Richmond’s cycle network was adequate. The dyke is for recreation not transportation. Only No 3 Road has separation – and that is far from satisfactory.
I felt, when listening to him talk about parking, or pricing, as though I was hearing myself. The good news is that he does it so well that more people listen.
The talk was oversubscribed – and there was a wait list for seats. But even so there were plenty of empty seats when the talk started and no-one moved to the front. Please, if you reserve a seat, but realize you won’t be going, cancel your reservation so someone else can go.
I am now aware of some Car2Go issues – and for two of them, users can do something. Do not leave the car open but keep the key with you. Seems obvious, may just be absent mindedness, but is truly annoying. Just like the lady who takes the car2go to her gym, parks the car in a private locked underground garage (gym members have access, the public doesn’t) and ends the rental. This saves her money but makes the system show it as “available” when it isn’t. She also has her ride home guaranteed.
It was that thing about not unreserving your seat for a City Program talk that reminded me.
Don’t be thoughtless – or selfish.
And while we were waiting for the #16 on Granville St I used my smart phone to find the nearest Car2Go. By the time it had done that, the bus came. This may be more useful than real time next bus information.
It is available at your friendly local book store: there was a discussion and book signing at The People’s Co-op Boosktore on Commercial Drive last night, and I know that they had some copies left. Or you can buy it on Amazon. When I have done here, I will be posting a review there too. Amy Walker is, as I am sure many of you know the cofounder of Momentum magazine and she also has a blog at onbicycles.com.
I was asked originally to contribute a piece on the environmental impact of cycling: I responded – “That will be the shortest chapter in the book. There isn’t any.” Well, ok that is an exaggeration, but a pardonable one I think. So my piece now carries the unwieldy title “The Environmental Good of Switching from Car to Bike” and it takes 8 pages. Out of 372 – none of which I have had an opportunity to read until I got my copy last night. Readers of this blog can happily skip over my pages, of course, and now I have read a few of my other favourite contributors, I can only say that I wish I had done a much better job. Todd Littman and Amy herself (she wrote 8 chapters out of 50) set a very high standard indeed.
If you do not have a bicycle and wonder what benefits you might enjoy I would like to present to you what I think will be some of the most compelling reasons: Youth, Sex and Cake. In the spirit of “you learn something every day” I have to acknowledge that Kristen Steele surprised me when she wrote that cycling makes you better in bed – and she has all the correctly cited academic articles to support that. Of course cycling makes you fitter, and you do burn more calories when you substitute a bike for a ride in a car (or even transit), which is why more people really ought to consider commuting by bicycle. And, as Todd Litman demonstrates, that has economic benefits too. But more and better orgasms ….
Does reading a book actually persuade people to switch mode of travel? Obviously the publisher thinks there is a market for this book for they commissioned it, and not only do I hope that they are right, but that there is a follow up volume. For the common thought that occurred to the contributors in last night’s discussion was “that ought to go in to the next book”.
Or is this really a handbook for cycling enthusiasts to use in their on-going cycle advocacy? Certainly on the basis of last night’s event, we were preaching to the converted. But it is definitely the book that I had wished had been written when I started looking at cycling as a transportation policy issue. We have come a long way since my boss said “We mustn’t encourage people to cycle, we will only be killing more of them”.
Of course I hope you will buy this book – or at the very least get your local library to get a copy. Richmond has two.
Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve
On October 15, 2011 there was a short spell of dry sunny weather. Others were busy occupying the Art Gallery, we decided to take bikes on a ride up the Seymour Valley Trailway. This is 11km of mostly paved, two way multi-use trail which parallels the Seymour Mainline (the service road for the waterworks which is not open to the pubic). It does have some grades – and in several places barriers have been placed to slow cyclists coming downhill. We got there late morning, and it was already busy especially at the southern end. Many people treat the trail as a time trial – a sort of cyclists equivalent to the Grouse Grind. But there are also skaters and boarders and at the Rice Lake end lots of little kids on bikes too. We just went up and back – missing the mid valley viewpoint.
At some future date we will return for the twin bridges and Fisherman Trail.
Not to carp, but it does seem a bit sad that there is no access to the dam – or even a bridge connecting the top end of Spur 4 to Coho Trail which would make a long loop possible. The trailway has the picnic sites and pit toilets, Spur 4 has none but has vehicle traffic (according to the map). As I observed in Episode Eight, people going out for a ride do seem to like coming back a different way.
The pictures that I took that day were nearly all in the old growth forest area beyond kilometre 10. For this area the paved trail ends, and it becomes several trails, mostly gravel with occasional wooden bridges.
These end at the fish hatchery - which is open daily. There is a steep gravel road for access to the dam, but most of that is closed to the public. There is a small viewing area with a gazebo up to the left of the dam and a small picnic area beyond that.
I used the camera zoom to edit out the dam and a large crane for a more “natural” landscape view, but of course it isn’t natural, being mostly second growth forest (active logging ended in 1994) specifically managed for water storage. (I am quoting the metrovancouver pamphlet).
This was actually our second visit to the area – we came before for a gentle stroll around Rice Lake and the Lynn Canyon. The 22km round trip is a bit more demanding – but with plenty of places to stop and look around all the way, need not be. If you have smooth tires you will be fine on the trail way, but some more traction might be a good idea on the gravel. When we used it, we both had smooth tires and no problems, as it was at least as good as the Richmond Dyke: it is also fairly level between km 10 and 11. Being October, it was distinctly chilly in the shade of the tall fir trees. The grades were more of a struggle in some places than the headwinds, and yes, I did get off and push now and again. But I was carrying the picnic supplies! The area is not formally a park, but is a place that deserves a visit, even if you do not have a bike. Bus Route #228 gets you close to the Rice Lake Gate. We had our picnic at the hatchery. Getting the bikes up to the single table nearer the dam would not have been easy. People seemed to leave their bikes at the foot of the hill.
I attended a course there to-day, as part of my efforts to better control my Type 2 diabetes. One of the things they taught us was to include more activity in our everyday lives. This is important for many health reasons. However, there is no bike rack at the centre. There used to be one behind the ER entrance, but that apparently has been removed as part of the new extension there. I saw one bicycle chained to the wheel chair storage – not ideal but inventive.
Nearly everyone on the course complained about the cost of parking. I would have ridden my bicycle if I had been sure that I could lock it up securely. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) must do much better at promoting human powered transportation and provide secure bike racks at all its facilities but this centre must be top of the list in view of what it is supposed to be doing. And that there was a secure rack but someone in that organization decided to remove it and not replace it. Even though there is plenty of space behind the new ER extension and close to the south entrance, used by the Diabetes Education Centre.
The foregoing is adapted slightly from an email I just sent to Vancouver Health – they invited feedback and provided an email address. I promised to let you know what they say in an update.
UPDATE Sept 1
Let us hope this is just the start
Dear Stephen,Thank you for your email and for your interest in Vancouver coastal Health.Your email has been forwarded to Patient Care Quality for Richmond Hospital.Best regards, VCH Feedback
You can almost hear the sigh of relief of the clerk in the “redirect these emails somewhere” department, can’t you. Do you think “Patient Care Quality” has any influence over the provision of bike racks? No, me neither.
When we got back from Whistler the weather improved, and my partner, always keen on exercise wanted to keep on cycling. So I decided to take her on a conducted Tour de Richmond. I have always liked the idea of the circular tour – and Gordon Price’s analysis of the popularity of the Seawall seems to indicate I am not alone in this. When walking or cycling for pleasure – or exercise (I think the two may be mutually exclusive but I am sure to get some argument on that point) going there and back seems too much like what we do for transportation. Those journeys we make in order to do something else – work, school or shopping. By the way, no model that I know of includes journeys made purely for the pleasure of the journey itself: transportation economists do not seem to understand what motivates much travel.
When I went back to cycling after a long hiatus it was mostly about health and weight loss. I plotted out several routes from my then home, using the regional cycling map to chose routes that had the least traffic conflicts. As I have moved, those routes got adapted a bit, but not very much has changed.
The one we took starts at Number 4 Road and Steveston Highway – where there are no bike routes at all. South of the highway, No 4 is rural, and has a 30 km/hr limit – very unusual for Richmond. The road is also used by heavy trucks going to and from the Crown Packaging paper recycling plant on the river at Garden City Rd. But is reasonably quiet at weekends. No 4 Road ends at Finn Slough, where Dyke Road is very effectively traffic calmed by simple neglect of maintenance. There is a gate at the end of the slough and separate paths – one paved (badly) for bikes and one gravel for walkers. This ends at the above mentioned paper plant with a very crude railway level crossing – basically just bump over the tracks. This has been “improved” recently by the addition of a “cyclists dismount” sign that is universally ignored.
Past the factory is the dog walking area – again cycles are directed away from the riverbank on a path that leads through the parking lot and to the point at No 3 Road where the dyke once again has a paved road – and directions to share it. Since I have smooth road tyres on my bike most of the time I pick payment over gravel whenever I can.
It is also worth noting that there are washrooms and water fountains near the No 3 and No 2 Road intersections – as well as at the boatyard and Garry Point park. Again, from Britannia to the former BC Packers site I use the road, not the boardwalk, but I get back on the path at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery where the informal cycle bypass of the barriers was carefully removed not so long ago. Again cyclists are supposed to get off because of some notion that there is a lot of vehicle traffic in and out of the cannery – tosh of course, but very official federal tosh.
Garry Point is a worthy destination in itself and on nice days a very popular place for Pajo’s Fish and Chips and Timothy’s ice-cream. This is the last point on this route where those seeking refreshment can buy any. From here the West Dyke to Terra Nova offers views of the mountains and the Georgia Strait, as well as the protected wetlands of Sturgeon Banks. There are also clean washrooms at Blundell Road and Terra Nova. You can also divert through the old field habitat of the Terra Nova park, if you like. The North Dyke offers a view of airport activity with seaplanes in the foreground. Much development is now going on at No 2 Road next to the Oval. A couple of public spaces were also created here as part of the Olympics but were not used then (“Security, you know”) or indeed since. The dyke was raised, and the path paved – the only bit of improvement in my time. I do not quite understand why the bike path needs to have swooping dips and bends. And it all ends, rather abruptly, between Cambie and Capstan Way. You really have not much choice but to get onto the road – so we used Capstan to get to the last bit of raised bike lane on No 3 Road. This has still the very uneven surface caused by poor oversight of a contractor who simply did not have the right equipment. Why no one has ever bothered to put it right baffles me. There is now a signed route through the industrial area north of Bridgeport Road to link up via dual use path on Van Horne to the Canada line bridge and its cycle/ped path to Vancouver. The Google map shows the path running alongside Fraser Wharf to the dyke, but that is fantasy. Stay on River Road (not River Dr as Google has it) or alternatively use the Bridgeport Trail to get to Number 4 road and Shell Road. If you do use River Road consider sidewalk riding if there are any heavy trucks about as the clearance at the anti road racing choke points is deliberately inadequate.
Shell Road is marked on Richmond’s map as an “on road connector” – meaning it has no bike markings or signage of any kind. At some times of the day, traffic to and from the employment area is heavy, with a long queue for the light at Cambie. You also have then to deal with people anxious to get onto the freeway. The only way I have found to deal with this is to ride on the sidewalk. The Shell Road trail starts again on the south side of the Highway 99 overpass, on the east side of the road – but there is a pedestrian signal here. There is, of course, more than enough space for a separated bike path either in the road right of way or of the parallel CN Lulu Island Industrial Line but I suppose that we will have to wait until the latter is actually abandoned before anything happens. While notice has been given, CN have yet to start construction of the necessary track between LaFarge and Riverport.
The cycle path alongside Shell Road has a longitudinal crack – almost a step. The road was recently resurfaced. The cycle path was ignored.
Past Westminster Highway Shell ceases to be a road and becomes a trail. It is a popular hangout for youth who believe that since there is no road there will also be no police presence. Much smoking of evil smelling “skunk” goes on here. The farmers being too cheap to install fencing apparently loose quite a bit of their blueberry crop to pick your own devotees who do not seem to miss the scales and cash registers of other locations. There are road crossings at Granville and Blundell where I strongly advocate caution: drivers do not seem to expect anyone to cross here. The path here seems to use as much wood chips as gravel and can be tricky in wet weather.
Halfway between Francis and Williams the road resumes again with puzzling signage. The path on the left seems to be dual use pedestrian/cyclist but the road is also marked with sharrows. Take your pick but it is easier to get across Williams where you can actually reach the signal button on the path. Williams has bike lanes on both sides – one of the very few Richmond arterials to be restriped. That eliminated on sweet parking and made a continuous centre turn lane possible meaning that traffic flow in a single lane each way is now better than the standard four lane layout. Which, of course, remains the accepted standard and promotes speeding and weaving on most arterials. I use quiet side roads to get back to where I started.