Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Bike to Farms ride: Sept. 7

Hey folks!

Mark on your calendar our next Discovery Bike Ride to several local farms/food producers on September 7! I'm quite excited about this one, because I think it's so important to support the Golden Ears Food Co-op as well as our local food producers. The Golden Ears Food Co-op will make it easier for all of us to buy local food, and at the same time it will be easier for local food producers to sell to us whatever they produce.

On this ride, It's really cool to see how and where some of our local food is grown and made. Kim of the Golden Ears Food Co-op, Peter Tam and I tested out the route last week and had tours at the various places we'll be visiting, and we had a great time. I hope many will join us for this ride! Here's the cool poster that Kim made, which has all the information about the ride:

People can also contact me for tickets at jchow23708@yahoo.ca

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Today's Discovery Bike Ride to Barnston Island

We started pretty early  today, 8 am. We had a nice small group: we started from Memorial Peace Park with Dave, Geoff, Tracey and myself, and Diane joined us at the Golden Ears Bridge. It was a cloudy day, and somewhat on the cool side. A perfect day for a ride.

For me this was the second time to bike to and around Barnston Island.

It's such a treat to be able to bike on the separated path along Golden Ears Way on the Surrey side, and then the trail through Tynehead Park. Then we took the pedestrian/cyclist bridge to cross Hwy. 1, at 168th Street. Turned right at 104 Ave., a nice stretch of downhill coasting (which means uphill on the way back of course....), and arrived at the cute Barnston Island ferry.

The 10 km ride around the island is very pleasant. Hardly any cars. We stopped at the Robert Point rest area, which is actually a regional park. There was someone from Metro Vancouver doing a park user satisfaction survey. I wouldn't be surprised if we were the only ones filling out the survey during the four hours that he was supposed to sit there, poor guy!  

I took some pictures, but unfortunately I don't have any from the island, because by accident I had my camera set to "film"....

Separated path along Golden Ears Way

Dave eating super sweet blackberries

Trail through Tynehead Park

Barnston Island ferry

Update Oct. 15: Tracey just sent me the link to her great blog post about our ride with lots more pics.

Cyclists forgotten again in downtown

Latest HUB Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows column in The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows News:

Renovations of the next section of Lougheed, between 226th and 228th, have started.

Unfortunately, cyclists will not be getting what we had asked for: bike lanes on Lougheed through Maple Ridge’s town core.

The district feels that the widened sidewalks will adequately accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists, and wants to reserve the road space for the many cars that travel through our downtown. It wasn’t totally unexpected, but it was still disappointing.

Bicycles important back in the old days

Another article in The Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows News about cycling, by Matthew Shields, a researcher for the Maple Ridge Museum.

Published: August 13, 2013

 It was in May 1937 that Maple Ridge’s own Margery Saunders clinched the victory in the Vancouver Daily Province’s annual Bike Race.

The race course looped around Stanley Park, in the year before it was cut in two by the new Lions Gate Bridge and its causeway.

At the time, the Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows Gazette gloated: “So grueling was the last few hundred yards that the runner-up, Ms. Leiper, collapsed right after crossing the finish tape.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to redesign car-centered streets

There are some really good English language cycling blogs based in the Netherlands with lots of useful information and ideas. One of them is Bicycledutch. Here is an interesting post about how a car-centered neighbourhood can be redesigned to make it more bike- and pedestrian (= people-) friendly and safer. As an example, the Overvecht neighbourhood in Utrecht is used. It's a car-centered neighbourhood built in the 60s with wide streets.

In Overvecht, car traffic will now be encouraged to use a ring road through the neighbourhood, while car accessibility to some of the significantly narrowed residential streets is reduced by blocking them off on one side. The residential "walking- and play-" streets, with wider sidewalks on one side of the street, will be much quieter and pleasant for pedestrians and safer for kids playing. The speed limit on these streets is reduced to 30 km/h. Shortcuts are provided for bikes and pedestrians, and a bike/pedestrian overpass will be built across the highway.

In many North American cities, including Maple Ridge, the belief is still that wider streets are safer for cyclists since they offer drivers enough space to safely pass cyclists, often without changing lanes and without having to slow down. The wide design of roads is generally aimed at improving car traffic flow, but traffic engineers often find themselves having to try and to fix the resulting speeding problems.

In car-dependent Maple Ridge, traffic engineers are generally quite reluctant to do anything to restrict car traffic other than some modest traffic calming. Two years ago I wrote a column in The News about a fight by local residents on Hill Ave. to not have barriers on their street removed to keep it quiet and safe for their kids. Unfortunately they lost. After an enthusiastic and successful start, the Bike to School program run by the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (now HUB) at Albion Elementary School in the same neighbourhood, also two years ago, has not resulted in more kids biking to school. Parents don't feel it's safe for their kids to bike to school.

It's interesting that in Overvecht they're removing the centre line from the residential streets. I believe these lines tend to encourage higher car speeds, since drivers feel "their" half of the road is clearly defined and higher speeds feel quite safe to them. By removing them, drivers tend to be more cautious and drive more slowly, which benefits livability. I've often thought that it might be beneficial to remove the center lines from some of the residential roads in Maple Ridge, which would make them look and feel more like residential streets, which they should be.

For example Westfield Ave. in Hammond:

Here's a collector Road, 117th Ave. at 227th Street:

There isn't that much traffic on this street, and there is no reason for it to be so excessively wide. This street has quite a few hills. If the car lanes are clearly defined by the center line, it makes sense to make the lanes going uphill wider (where the speed differential between cars and bikes is greater), and going downhill narrower. By removing the center line altogether, the overall road width can be much narrower. It's clear that road design has an effect on driver behaviour. There also doesn't seem to be any consideration to the cost and environmental impact of building wider roads.

Here's another one: Kanaka Way at Creekside:

This is a road that will see a considerable increase in traffic in the coming years with the added development along 240th, and some neighbourhood commercial at the 240th Street/112th Ave. intersection. The design of Kanaka Way definitely encourages speeding and there have been a lot of complaints by residents as well as parents of students at Kanaka Elementary School. At the school a temporary traffic circle has been constructed as traffic calming, which will be made permanent this year.  Quite a few cars still zip through the traffic circle without even slowing down. One day I was biking through this traffic circle (I took the lane), when a car passed me in the middle of the circle, going full speed.

There has been one traffic fatality on Kanaka Way so far. A driver was making a U-turn without looking and got hit by another vehicle. I've often wondered how fast the other vehicle was going. Max. speed on this road is 50 km/h, but I think 40 km/h is more appropriate. Who knows how fast he was going, but I think it's unlikely that the guy would have been killed if the vehicle that hit him was going only 40 km/h, which would have given the driver a good chance to step on the brakes.

Kanaka Way really makes no sense to me at all. Why create an arterial like this, where residents have to deal with all the negative aspects of an arterial: speeding traffic, noise, lack of safety, whereas they don't have the advantages that an arterial should offer them: frequent transit, shopping and other amenities.

Be sure to watch the video at the end of the Bicycle Dutch blogpost that will give you a good visual idea of the effect of narrowing the streets and removing the center line.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Why is cycling so popular in the Netherlands?

Here's a great article by BBC News Magazine reporter Anna Holligan, with a comparison between cycling in the Netherlands and the U.K.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Add cycling to learning cycle

Columnist Bob Groeneveld writes about cycling in the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Times:

JULY 29, 2013

Add cycling to learning cycle

Practically every day I see cyclists pedalling along the highways and byways that take me from home to work and back.

Practically every day I see them breaking the rules of the road - in fact, it's rare that I don't have a cyclist in my line of sight for more than 20 or 30 seconds without witnessing the shattering of one traffic law or another.

Practically every day I see stupid motorists nearly fulfilling a cyclist's apparent ambition to see tomorrow from a hospital bed - or not see tomorrow at all. And I think to myself... "More people should ride bicycles."

In fact, I wish more people would spend more time riding bikes before ever getting behind the wheel of a car, as opposed to under one - which happens far too often, as things currently stand.

I'm not a sadist, and I'm not hoping I can snap a gory photo of a mangled cyclist to fill a corner of the newspaper.

And it has nothing to do with my basic belief that the world would be a better place with fewer people in it (provided, of course, that I'm one of those "fewer people").

On the contrary, I believe that if there were more people riding bicycles to and fro, there would be less carnage in the long run.

Potential motor vehicle drivers should be required to spend a couple hundred hours on a bicycle before applying for a learner's licence.

And it shouldn't be just some recreational riding around a quiet neighbourhood, around the local park a few times, or mountain biking along some backwoods trails.

More cyclists rolling along with traffic (not against traffic, like pedestrians... which they are not - probably the most common Motor Vehicle Act transgression perpetrated by cyclists) would create a "safety in numbers" scenario. Motorists would be more aware of cyclists in their midst, because there would be more cyclists to remind them to pay attention.

Motorists would also gain from the experience of having ridden a bicycle amongst idiot drivers who eat, drink, comb their hair, fix their makeup, and otherwise occupy themselves with endangering the lives of the people around them.

You cannot truly understand the concept of "defensive driving" until you've ridden a bicycle alongside the stupidest, most oblivious creatures populating the face of the earth: the texting driver (followed closely by the cellphone-addicted driver - and don't give me that "hands-free" nonsense, as studies clearly show that hands-free cellphone use, while not illegal, is equally as dangerous as using hand-held devices).

And having had the benefit of experiencing the stupidity of the average steel-enclosed motorist first-hand from the vantage point of a bicycle seat, the newly licensed driver is less likely to want to become one of those average idiots.

Understanding would also flow both ways, as more and more cyclists become motorists - and they begin to teach their children how to ride safely, instead of actually teaching them dangerous behaviour.

It is disconcerting in the extreme to see young cyclists follow their parents straight through stop signs and red lights, and passing lines of slow traffic on the right, sneaking up on the unsuspecting guy who doesn't realize it has suddenly become dangerous to make his right turn. Parents on bicycles lead their kids along sidewalks, putting pedestrians at risk and creating the danger of uncertainty in the minds of motorists who, faced with such unruly behaviour, can't know what the next move will be.

They lead their kids against traffic lights through crosswalks where they have no business being.

And when they get hit... stupid motorists!