Friday, July 27, 2012

Maple Ridge Transportation Issues & Opportunities Survey

Do you feel that it's not safe for your kids to bike to school? Does it make you feel nervous if grandma is biking to the store? Is there too much speeding on our roads? Here is an opportunity for everyone who likes to bike - or who would like to see improved safety and a healthier commute to school for their little ones - to have some input in the Maple Ridge Transportation Plan by filling out this on-line survey.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Unveiling cycling infrastructure plans for Maple Ridge

This coming Saturday, July 28, at 10:30 am, the Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Bicycle Advisory Committee will unveil the cycling infrastructure plans for Maple Ridge at the Haney Farmers Market in Memorial Peace Park. Transportation planners are looking for input from people who like to bike, of all ages and abilities. Is the route to your school not safe for your kids, do you feel there's too much speeding on our roads, do we need more bike racks at downtown stores? Please drop by and give your input.

The market is from 9 am to 2 pm. The BAC booth will be there when the market starts.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Prospera Valley GranFondo Fort Langley July 22

I headed out to Fort Langley today for the inaugural Prospera Valley GranFondo. The goal of the organizers is - apart from raising funds for the Special Olympics - for this event to become one of the premier annual cycling events in the Greater Vancouver area. The quiet country roads in Langley and Abbotsford used for this event were closed off to cars for the duration of the race. Even though I would have preferred a nice warm, sunny day myself, I'm sure the riders preferred the clouds, the cool temperatures and the occasional drizzle. The number of participants was expected to be somewhere between 1,000 and 1,500.  The hard core group cycled 160 km, the novices did 80, and there was also a 3 km route for the FamilyFondo.

I have to admit that I didn't see much of the race, since I was there to volunteer for the bike decorating and bike rodeo offered by HUB to participants of the FamilyFondo. This 3 km ride finished earlier than expected, and all of a sudden the parking lot was swarmed by kids and parents with lots of bikes. Once a little bit of space cleared up we managed to do some bike rodeo stuff: the kids practiced a.o. slaloms, making proper turns with hand-signals and a slow race. Here are some pictures:

Sylvan FamilyFondo

All FamilyFondo participants received a t-shirt

You can ride so much better with your face painted...

HUB instructor having lots of fun too...

Great opportunity for some quality family time too!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Alien Blue Waters in Maple Ridge's Cenotaph Park

Another non-biking post: 
I know it has been bubbling away for a year or so now but today I sent a letter to Mayor and Council as well as to The Maple Ridge News on this "important" matter which has been picking me for some time... oh, so persnickety, I am. I'm wondering if anyone else shares my feeling on this? 
- "It's summer-time and the weather is hot and the mind turns to water; cool, clear refreshing water. But what is with this alien, blue fluid bubbling from the fountains of Cenotaph Park? Is it toxic? It certainly looks dangerous - like antifreeze which we have all learned from a very young age to be fearful of ingesting. Is the coloration meant to scare children away from indulging in the illicit toe-dipping on a sweltering day? Could that be the reason? Well, isn't that exactly what a city water feature is supposed to do, illicit a fear reaction from passers-by. NOT!
In all seriousness, I think this blue coloration completely destroys the effect of the fountains and makes them repellent in more ways than designed. I am at a loss to decide whether a fountain with weird flowing blue material is infact a community benefit.
What is the true reason for the coloration? Is it also to act as a deterrence to the odd hobo or citizen who wishes to rinse his/her hands in the flowing waters? Urban legend has it that one indigent, many years ago, dare to dip a shirt into the waters and ring it out? If so, so what! Why do we all now have to endure fountains of flowing, blue fluid till the end of time because of it?
In the great-wide-world of urban and village fountains and water-works, has anyone ever seen such a cruel trick? In the tiny squares and great plazas of France and Italy where tourists and locals pause to refresh, has anyone ever seen blue, repellent water? In Granada, Spain's famed Alhambra Palace, where millions of tourists file thru to see the magical play of water and even dare to touch it, there is no blue, repellent water!
If there are other towns in the world where administrators have opted for such a "scorched-earth" solution to a minor problem I would be equally sad for their citizens who are denied a simple pleasure, that of looking at, hearing AND touching CLEAR, dancing waters.
This blue water is a deterrent all right, it's an absolute deterrent to any and all enjoyment. Bring back clear, clean, real water to the fountains of Cenotaph Park!"

Rise of Renewables

Sorry, this is not a bike story, nor planning, nor transportation, but an ENERGY story that I thought was rather encouraging, speaking to the surging alternative energy sector. From the Vancouver Sun, July 13:
Renewable energy has come of age. That's how Maria van der Hoeven, executive director of the International Energy Agency, explained to reporters last week why, for the first time in its history, the oil-focused IEA would be producing medium-term market reports on sources like solar, wind, biomass and other forms of non-hydrocarbon-based sources of power.
"Renewable energy has seen a huge expansion in the last decade and has increasingly become a part of the global energy mix, and today with the arrival of this report, renewable energy is taking its rightful seat at the table alongside the IEA's medium-term market report for established fuels like coal, gas and oil," Ms. van der Hoeven said.
Read more:

Friday, July 13, 2012

column in Maple Ridge News on Velo-city 2012 Conference

Here's our latest column in yesterday's Maple Ridge News, about the Velo-city 2012 Conference held in Vancouver last month:

Not moving fast enough on cycling

In late June, more than 800 delegates from countries around the world, including some from Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, took part in Velo-city Global 2012, the world’s premier international cycling planning conference, in Vancouver.

It was a place to find inspiration, knowledge and experience for politicians, planners and advocates (those who could afford to attend), who were looking for ways to get more people to bike in their cities.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Group Ride hosted by Surrey HUB - Friday, July 13

Ride leader: Gordon Hall
Starting from Maple Meadows West Coast Express station at 4:38pm. I will be waiting by the ticket vending machines.
We will ride the Golden Ears Bridge with some great views, Golden Ears Bikeway, Tynehead Trails bikeway and 168 St overpass. This is some of the best cycling facilities in the lower mainland, comfortable ride most of the way, away from traffic on seperated bike paths. Stopping along the way for dinner or snacks. We will ride through some quiet neighbourhoods of Fraser Heights, view the new bridge and bike overpass not yet open, then ride the new 148 St bike lanes to Green Timbers park and lake, ending back at the Skytrain.

PS: You will have to find your way back to Maple Meadows WC Express Station at the end of the ride. One way would be to take the SkyTrain to Braid St. Station and from there take the 791 Bus which will return you to Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows. But it seems the last bus on Friday leaves Braid Street at 7:20pm and can only take two bikes/bus.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

One of my favourite rides in Maple Ridge

On most Saturday mornings, I awake at about 7am, quietly dress, grab my bike and leave my still sleeping family to "hit the road". As I live at the top of Silver Valley Road, the first 2.5 kilometers of my ride is an exhilarating, awakening and speedy dash down this long hill that reminds me so much of "first tracks" (as I am a skier as well). For an hour or two, I will cruise and explore the various neighbourhoods of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows enjoying the peace of the relatively car-less streets, the warming day and watch the community awaken. While I have lived in Maple Ridge for over 40 years, I continue to discover new streets and enjoy seeing the individual creativity of each homeowners' landscaping and house design. Also, I find that seeing the community by bike is at a pace which allows for more personal interaction with other "townfolk", and I find this quite satisfying.  
Along the ride, I will stop for tea and a light breakfast at a coffee-shop or restaurant and share greetings with other early risers then proceed to the Farmers' Market where I will stroll by the various vendors and select an assortment of tasty food items for myself and family. My recent favourites include a bag of hazelnuts, fresh cucumbers and always the deliriously delicious pear tarts from Laurie, the pastry baker there, with whom I also share some interesting conversations. 
With panniers full of treasure, I ride northward toward home, down the "ridge" of Maple Ridge, then up the now grinding Silver Valley Road hill. How much I indulged for breakfast in town will determine the speed and vigour of my ascent, but always a good shower awaits as a reward for a "good sweat". At home, I happily share my food-finds with the late-awakening household, then I am fully charged to get to the myriad household chores of a busy family.