Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Bicycle Diary – post 2

with 4 comments

If you missed it, here’s the first entry

The dykes around Richmond form a very popular, mostly car free, route for walks and bike rides. The north dyke is one of the least used. It is still a largely industrial area – although that is now changing. Most attention for recreational use of the path is devoted to other sections, and the western end of the dyke is in dire need of investment. The opening of the Canada Line bridge, with its additional walk and bike path would, you might have thought, been a good opportunity, but both Vancouver and Richmond have muffed the opportunity.
Canada Line Bridge over the Richmond dyke
On the Richmond side the bridge is high over the dyke and the the bike/walk path lands at River Road. The dyke trail simply dead ends at a wharf – with no hope of connection to anything at present. There is not even a sign to indicate that users need to use No 4 Road to continue towards the rest of the bike route “network” – which itself is only signposted from the west.
End of the ride
This two metre sheer drop is what prevents dyke users from trespassing on the wharf property.

End of the dyke path

From here I just backtracked and then followed the signs – after the bridge end – to YVR, which took me over the Middle Arm bridge. It is never clear to me if I am supposed to be in the narrow curb lane (or is that a hard shoulder?) or on what might be the sidewalk. On the Middle Arm Bridge I would strongly suggest it is intended to be the sidewalk, but I could be wrong. If I recall correctly, it is the airport that is responsible for this bridge and its connecting ramps. The signage is spotty at best and definitely missing from the eastern end of the bridge. From the western end on Sea Island, cyclists are clearly expected to be on the hard shoulder. Signs direct cyclists to Richmond to double back under the bridge and the swing bridge (the 2m headroom seems barely adequate) where there is a choice to No 3 Road (on the swing bridge) or to No 2 Road – a purpose built two way path towards the Airport Station.

Despite the almost complete withdrawal of bus service on Sea island after the Canada Line opened there are still two community shuttle routes and a night bus – so two stops at the bus loop remain in service. For most of the time of course it remains deserted and is now much too large for its limited function. I wonder how long it will remain like this before it is redeveloped.

The bike route to the Number 2 Road bridge is now along Cessna Drive – the service road for the hotel and BCIT. Cyclists rejoin No 2 Road at the traffic lights where there is a pedestrian signal oddly remote from its crossing. Two long right turn lanes cross over the marked bike lane to provide access to the flight path park and Inglis Drive and then you get to pick again – sidewalk or the bridge’s marked bike lane. If you intend to get down to the dyke on the other side, use the sidewalk. The zig zag ramp to the dyke is not connected to the bridge’s bike lane.

The other thing that really struck me today is the loose, dry, dusty gravel used to surface the dyke trials is unpleasant to both cycle on – or walk on for that matter. Richmond buys Zambonis to ensure skaters have a nice smooth surface at the rinks, but does not think that smoothness is important for cycling. A machine not unlike a Zamboni could have been used to coat the gravel with bitumen and roll it flat. But then there is no municipal revenue stream from cyclists per se – only their property taxes.

On the sections where a tarmac road surface is present, progress is noticeably easier. It might actually be faster but always this surface is installed at points where cyclists need to slow down and watch out for unpredictable wandering pedestrians. People out for a walk never look behind them, tend to walk in groups often three or four abreast, and will frequently stop or change direction. Many will be on cell phones – and blue tooth earpieces, or listening to iPods on earphones. Do not expect anyone to react to a bell except badly. Dogs – on and off leash – will also do their best to hinder progress. At least there were no roller bladers out today. They like bike lanes on roads – as do runners and power walkers – for the lack of driveway crossovers. But bladers do not move in a straight line, but more like a sailing vessel tacking against the wind – moving rhythmically from side to side.

But even so, I made what seemed at the time reasonable progress – at least when not battling the stiff on shore breeze. I made a roughly box like route around the western end of Lulu Island – with the short detour across to Sea Island to try and avoid the discontinuity in the bike route around Cambie and Bridgeport. So I had a head wind when travelling north, south and west, but a good assisting tail wind east bound. Distance in all 34.6kms at an average speed of 15km/hr. My knees hurt now. I also have sunburned elbows.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 6, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Posted in bicycles, cycling

4 Responses

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  1. Sounds like the north-west dyke area could be excellent with some work. I don’t visit the area often by bike, but I quite liked the sea-island side of the bridges, i.e. easy to cross under them and such without having to do any risky maneuvers in busy intersections.

    Alexwarrior

    July 6, 2010 at 11:20 pm

  2. “The other thing that really struck me today is the loose, dry, dusty gravel used to surface the dyke trials is unpleasant to both cycle on”

    Curious. I think the surface pretty reasonable, for biking (indeed, I like it), walking, and mostly good for running, as well as walking

    I could strongly advice against bitumen, since the surface could loose its absorbing feature (in addition of it porosity), and if the loose gravel is less than ideal for bike speeding: I suggest it is an asset (remember you don’t need to bike on the dykes for your regular commute, and there you have lot of walker and runner to share the trail with).

    voony

    July 7, 2010 at 12:26 am

  3. The double back under the Sea Island Way bridges is also a good route when going South over the Arthur Lang because it bypasses the overpass and the Miller/Russ Baker way intersection. However, the section under the swing bridge often has shin-deep water when the tide is high or if there has been a reasonable amount of rain.

    Andrea

    July 9, 2010 at 7:35 pm

  4. […] Rees has covered extensively them and other Richmond related cycling issue in a serie of post [sr1][sr2][sr4], so here is another view focusing more on utility cycling, that is basically cycling to go to […]


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