Monday, November 9, 2015

Meeting dates for 2016

Our meetings are held in the Alouette Room (upstairs) in the Maple Ridge library on every second Thursday of the month, 6:45 - 8:45 pm.

The dates booked so far for 2016 are as follows:

Jan. 14
Feb. 11
Mar. 10
Apr. 14
May 12
June 9
July 14
Aug. 11

Monday, August 17, 2015

Bike to Farms 2015 now open for registration

Finally we have commitment from the three participating are pretty busy people and have other things on their minds this time of year! So happy that they're willing to have us!

So I can tell you that this year's Bike to Farms event will be on Sunday, Sept. 6, and we're ready for registration! Don't wait too's our most popular ride and we have limited space! We do ask registrants to let us know if they can't make it at least several days before the ride. We'll keep a waiting list if necessary so we can still fill up any cancellations.

We've decided to ask for a $5 registration fee this year to cover some of the cost and to be able to give the farmers a thank-you gift for participating.

We will provide participants with a snack and a drink at the end of the ride. Make sure you bring some water and a snack to keep yourself hydrated and energized during the ride. With the stops the ride will take several hours. Our experience is that the farmers really take their time to show us around, and we may arrive back a little later than planned, so it's good to be prepared.

This is the route (same as last year's route):

Participating farms:

The distance will be about 15 kms.

We'll be riding in two groups of max. 25 participants each.

  • Group #1 leaves from Big Feast Restaurant at noon, returns at Big Feast (or at Memorial Peace Park) at about 3:30.
  • Group #2 leaves from Big Feast Restaurant at 1:00 pm, returns at about 4:30.
Here's my blog post with photos of last year's Bike to Farms ride.

Registration and payment can be done in person (cash/credit card) or by phone (credit card) through:
Pitt Meadows Visitor Centre
12492 Harris Road
Pitt Meadows
tel. 604-460-8300
The Pitt Meadows Visitor Centre is now closed for the weekend. Please register with Jackie at or call (604) 476-9616. 
Payment: cash only at the start of the ride.

(Please specify whether you wish to be in group #1 or #2)

Note that kids under 16 years of age will need to be accompanied by an adult.

Participants are asked to arrive 15 minutes early to sign a waiver.

For more info e-mail Jackie at 

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Latest column: What about closer to home?

My latest column in the Maple Ridge News. Unedited version below:

"The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members" - Ghandi
It's a 'no'. The people have spoken. Loud and clear.
In Maple Ridge, more people (77%) voted against the proposed 0.5% increase in sales tax to pay for transit, road and bike improvements than anywhere else in Metro Vancouver. Would that have anything to do with the fact that we rely more on our cars than anywhere else in Metro Vancouver? It's quite possible. 72% of Pitt residents voted against.
Voter turn-out for the plebiscite in Maple Ridge was 51%, Pitt Meadows 49%. Compare that to the significantly lower 2014 municipal election turn-out of 31% in both Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows.
Whatever message people felt they needed to give, whether to Translink, to the BC Liberal Government, or to their Mayors, or all of the above, this vote was obviously extremely important to them. There's been an abundance of smug post-victory facebook posts about this great achievement, and many people apparently have been doing happy-dances.
Great. So the no-side won. And now what?
The real problems - worsening congestion, lack of transit options for many and poor cycling infrastructure - are now even farther from being solved, and seem to be on track to make our commuting lives more miserable in years to come. Call me negative. I call it being realistic.
On to the next referendum? Forget that!
Let's also consider this: while many blame Translink for all that's bad in the transit world, how can Translink be blamed for the way Maple Ridge has made many rather unwise land-use decisions in the past that now make it pretty darn difficult for Translink to provide cost- and time-effective transit for all in our area?
Somehow the powers that be should, hopefully, come up with a new funding source, eventually. Despite the no-side's victory, fought for with so much passion and dedication, many won't be so happy in the end, 'cause they're gonna get stuck in traffic, big time.  After all, even though many thought this was just about teaching Translink a lesson or two, we just chose the car as our solution to carmageddon, make no mistake about it.
In the meantime, we cycling advocates will continue to give our feedback when road construction is being planned. Life goes on.
I just want to say this. I am convinced that the only way a city can be successful is by being inclusive. A city should work for all. It should be inclusive of people who take transit, people who walk and people on bikes. It should be inclusive of the young and the elderly, many of whom don't drive. It should also be inclusive of those on a low income, many of whom can't afford a car.
A successful city should even be inclusive of street people, many of whom tend to get around by bike. Do you honestly think that if we just don't build bike lanes and install bike racks for them, they'll eventually just magically evaporate from our streets? Just like they need a place to live, they need to be able to get around safely, cheaply and efficiently, if those who are able to work are ever going to be able to get and hold a job.
Cycling facilities should not be seen as optional, as they often still seem to be today in Maple Ridge.
When a brand new, massive intersection appears such as the one at 112th/Kanaka Way and 240th, or so-called 'road improvements' are implemented at 240th by Albion Elementary, we're told we'll just have to wait for our bike lanes until the entire area is built out, which can be many years from now. Until then, we'll have to be content to be biking with the sharks, or stay on the sidewalks. So much for the pride our city takes in its so-called 'multi-modal' transportation system that supposedly works for all.
Seeing so many people speak up in this plebiscite, with such passion, about whatever it is that they felt was so important to them, makes me wish that those same people would speak up with the same passion when it comes to their vision of the kind of city that they want to live in.
Although, you have to wonder, what is their vision of the ideal city?
Many people just seem to want to get from point A to point B fast, and how their speedy, and often noisy and dangerous travel affects others and our city in general seems of no concern to them.
Through our car addiction, we've created a lot of places that apparently aren't worth caring about. The way a lot of drivers speed through our neighbourhoods attests to that. They drive through them as if they don't care about them and the people that live in them.

In the end, it all depends on what we, the people, want. Here's hoping that the many people that cared so much about Translink's governance problems and wasted tax dollars, will start caring enough about our streets and our neighbourhoods, about our kids and their future, and about our seniors, our poor, and our street people, to start demanding proper funding for transit and bike lanes! Call me naive. I guess I am.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Column: Traffic laws need to catch up

My latest column:

Not only are our roads designed for cars, our traffic laws are written for cars, and bikes are more like a fleeting afterthought.
Cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, but this principle ignores some big differences that are not reflected in traditional road design, nor in the B.C. Motor Vehicle Act.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Photos Art Studio Bike Tour

The one and only person that had registered for today's Art Studio Bike Tour had canceled yesterday, so I had no idea how many people to expect when we rode to our starting point, the Bandstand in Memorial Peace Park, this morning. But what a wonderful day it turned out to be! I got some help with promoting the ride from Colleen of the Let's Go Biking blog, and we had two people show up from Vancouver and two from White Rock for our ride. In total we had 13 people...a nice group!

Do check out Colleen's blog. You'll find lots of great ideas and tips for rides in the Metro Vancouver area and beyond.

Here are some photos of today's Art Studio Bike Tour:

Just the right size group for our bike tour!

Win Seaton's studio was hidden in a garage in a back alley

Kerry McLaren's studio is any artist's dream. She shares it with  Donnae Bell.
Both create beautiful clay art.

At Creations by Sisters we saw beautiful pottery by Diane Wooldridge
and gorgeous jewelry by Barb  Barringer

We were not the only people arriving at Osprey Village by bike.
Stomping Grounds is the perfect spot for a gourmet coffee.

Artist in Residence Rebecca Fisher showed us her age-old techniques for dying fabrics.
Every piece she creates is truly unique.

Kristin Krimmel is an amazingly versatile artist
with many years of experience and lots of art work to show for it.

Kat Wahamaa is another Artist in Residence, with many amazing talents.
Kat's Finnish and played her guitar for us and sang us a lovely finnish song.
This is Kat beside one of her favorite paintings. It was inspired by a tree. 
Last but not least we visited Alexandra Lanzarotta's studio.
She makes the most amazing jewelry, and I also liked husband Ron's wrist bands made of kangaroo leather.
You can find maps and lists of the artists with links to their websites  in an earlier blog post.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Youth Vision Film Festival: cycling part of the solution to a better world!

The theme for yesterday's Youth Vision Film Festival, organized by Cinema Politica Ridge Meadows, was "Working Together - A Better World is Possible". Out of four excellent entries, one participant, Elina Blomley, had chosen "cycling" as the way to a better world.

I loved all four entries. Two had chosen to tackle homelessness, which was very timely, as this issue has been front and center in the news lately. First prize winner Eva Cowley's documentary featured some great interviews explaining the homelessness issue. The fourth one was about acts of kindness. I don't have links to all four entries, but I do have the one for Elina's documentary, and it's well worth a watch.

Our HUB committee and HUB Headquarters hope to work with Elina to produce more cycling clips in the future!

Update May 13: Here's the link to the winning documentary by Eva.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Bike to Work Week May 25 - 31

Bike to Work Week in Metro Vancouver is only a few weeks away. Do you want to be part of it? This is how it works.

Make sure you register and log your trips. Every day you'll have a chance to win a brand new bike!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Art Studio Bike Tour 2015

On Sunday, May 10th  we're planning to do our 2nd annual Art Studio Bike Tour. The Art Studio Tour is an annual 2-day event on Mother's Day weekend.

We're hoping for a nice sunny day so that more people may consider trying out a tour by bike this year. If it rains (i.e. more than just a drizzle), we may cancel. If you're not sure, check this blog ( We'll post any cancelation on the morning of the ride by 8 am.

This year we're planning to do two routes, one that's mostly flat (#1), and a hillier route (#2). If we don't have enough participants, we may just end up doing route #1.

Both groups will be leaving at 10:00 am from Memorial Peace Park in Maple Ridge. Please arrive at about 9:45 am to give us a little time to get everyone to sign a waiver. Insurance for these group rides is covered by HUB at no cost to participants.

Pre-registration is appreciated, but not necessary. We just like to have an idea of the number of people that we can expect. E-mail Jackie:

Some of the art studios may offer some refreshments, but it would be a good idea to bring some lunch along.

Of course you can also try one of the routes on your own in your own time. Just click on the map, save the image and print it in landscape format. Also bring a copy of the list of studios with addresses to help guide you along.

Route #1 is a flat one in central and west Maple Ridge, with one studio in Osprey Village in Pitt Meadows:

This route is about 21.5 kms.

Artists on route #1:

Win Seaton -
in alley behind Subway on 224th Ave., Maple Ridge

Diane Wooldridge - The Mud Room / Creations By Sisters
Barb Barringer - Spiritbear Designs / Creations by Sisters
21652 121 Ave., Maple Ridge

Kerry McLaren - Red Dog Studio -
Donnae Bell -
21536 River Road, Maple Ridge

Rebecca Fisher - Osprey Village Artist in Residence -
#102 - 10973 Barnstonview Rd., Pitt Meadows

Kristin Krimmel -
12343 - 216 St., Maple Ridge

Route #2 is a more hilly route in central and east Maple Ridge. Perhaps some people may have to walk some sections on this route. That's perfectly fine. It's not a race and it's supposed to be fun. We'll all take a break at the top of the hill so that those who need a little more time have time to catch up. Here's the route:

This route is about 20 kms.

Artists on route #2:

Kat Wahamaa - Port Haney Artist in Residence -
11630 - 224 Street, Maple Ridge

Suzette Fram -
Lori Shook -
22610A - 116 Ave., Maple Ridge

Alexandra Lanzarotta - LXandra Jewellery -
11019 - 237 Street, Maple Ridge

Elizabeth Hancock - Holly Tree Studio
12122 - 244 Street, Maple Ridge

Craig Speirs - Wind Dancers - facebook: WhisperingWind, Wind Dancers
Diane Speirs - Alouette Mountain Studio
23386 - 124 Ave., Maple Ridge

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Column: "Water theme for Earth Day", and: MRBERT!

My column in the Maple Ridge News of April 10, 2015 is about our 4th annual Cycle Recycle and about the launch of MRBERT:

"At the upcoming Earth Day event on April 18, HUB is going to have lots of bikes to give away! We saved some bikes from the Recycle Depot, and we've also had quite a few donations from individuals this year, especially of kid's bikes. So thank you to Ridge Meadows Recycling Society and all those who donated their bikes! They've all been cleaned already, and one of our committee members is presently hard at work doing some needed repairs.


Note that we've made a change of plans with regard to the Cycle Recycle. Since we have over 20 bikes to give away, we decided to have two draws instead of one. The first one will be at 11:30 am by Ross Davies of KEEPS, the second one at 1:30 pm by Queen Elsa (Frozen).

Some of MRBERT's members: John, Dave and Alex

Friday, March 13, 2015

Referendum: Hold your nose, vote 'yes'

Below is the unedited version of my latest column in the Maple Ridge News. It's about the Referendum, of course.

Any day now you'll find the referendum ballot in your mail box and you'll finally have your say. Now before you angrily mark a "no" on your ballot, please reflect on what it is that you're voting on.

I must admit, I'm just as mad as anyone else who doesn't agree with the way this whole thing has been set up. But I do feel that the only right thing to do for Metro Vancouver - including Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge - is to seriously start investing in transit, walking and cycling to work towards a better, more sustainable transportation system that works for all, and a more livable region for future generations. Therefore I can only vote 'yes', while cursing under my breath.

There's no space provided for comments, unfortunately. We're not being asked if we're okay with the excessive salaries of Translink executives, or if we have a problem with the governance structure of Translink (set up by the provincial government by the way).

Maybe you want to vote 'no' because you feel that there's not enough in it for Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, another very valid concern. Or you just don't trust Translink to deliver on its promises.

They're not enquiring if perhaps we're angry about the cost over-runs and continuing delays of the Compass Card (a system mandated by the provincial government by the way), or if we're upset at all with the provincial government for putting us in this position.

There are many possible reasons why people might consider voting 'no'.
It is totally understandable that Mayor Read intends to vote 'no'. As a mayor, she has the responsibility but lacks the authority. The flawed governance structure of Translink will need to be addressed.

Judging from the discussions I hear and read, a lot of people don't seem to know what the actual question is. So here it is once again:

"Do you support a one half percentage point (0.5%) increase in the provincial sales tax in Metro Vancouver, dedicated to the Mayors' Transportation and Transit Plan, with independent audits and public reporting?"

What it basically comes down to, is that with our vote we will be giving a message as to the direction that we want the region as a whole to take. How do we want to live?

Consider the likely consequences of a ‘no’ vote. No level of government would have any appetite to touch this subject in the next 5 to 10 years at a minimum. The proposed infrastructure improvements will be put on hold, while more people and cars move to the region and communities continue to sprawl out adding more traffic to the already congested arteries. We can continue to complain about the inefficient bureauracies, and, as some of us would have it, get to kick out a bunch of inefficient bureaucrats, only to replace them with another bunch of inefficient bureaucrats. In the end, everyone who moves will lose.

A 'yes' vote means that we're all going to contribute to the promised improvements by paying more taxes. More people will be able to choose transit, cycling or walking more often. It will also mean less congestion than without the improvements. Everyone who moves will win, but some (sometimes a lot) more than others.

If we vote yes, Translink promises that we will finally be getting our long awaited B-line bus in three to five years, and there will be expansion of service to Albion and Silver Valley. We'll get increased West Coast Express service. Improved transit will help support and encourage the needed densification in our downtown and along transportation corridors. Improved transit elsewhere in Metro Vancouver also helps drivers who need to commute farther afield by relieving the congestion there.

With a 'yes' vote, the investments in cycling by Translink are going to increase from the current $1.55 million (less than $1 per resident, or about 0.1% of Translink's annual spending) to $12 million a year, which will put the region on track to implement the Regional Cycling Strategy within the 20-year time frame.

Cycling improvements in Maple Ridge will consist of various cycling projects listed in the Maple Ridge Transportation Plan, approved by the previous Council (and hopefully to be amended by the present one).

What will be, will be. The BC government has chosen to hold this extremely risky referendum, downloading the responsibility for what happens on us voters by giving us a choice of two options neither of which we can agree with.
It is extremely difficult to ask someone to boil down a complex set of questions to a simple yes or no answer. Does the good outweigh the bad? Amidst the opposing voices against Translink and taxation in general, all of which are legitimate, the transportation vision for the region gets buried. Hopefully, we will separate the ‘what’ (transportation improvements) from the ‘who’ (Translink governance). Voting yes would at least settle the ‘what’ so the region can move forward with the vision while different governments and the voters can then tackle the issue of Translink governance. Voting no, on the other hand, puts both the ‘what’ and ‘who’ in a deep freeze, guaranteeing more of the same plus more congestion to boot.

The lesser of two evils tells me to hold my nose and vote yes.

By Jackie Chow, member of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows chapter of HUB, with contributions from Ivan Chow, Chair.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Column: Elephant feet allow cyclists to keep riding

Here is the unedited version of my column that appeared today in the Maple Ridge News:

At several  locations in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows some new pavement markings called "elephant feet" have appeared in recent years.  I suspect that few  people know what they mean. The markings are confusing, and so is the name. Sometimes they're called "crossbike crossings", which makes their purpose somewhat clearer.

Elephant feet in front of Maple Ridge Secondary School
Normally, when cyclists ride on an off-road multi-use path, or a sidewalk - as is allowed in Maple Ridge according to the City's website - cyclists are required to dismount when crossing at a pedestrian crossing. When the crossing has elephant feet markings, they don't need to.
The markings can be placed either on each side of a pedestrian crossing - in which case the crossing is shared with pedestrians - or on one side of it - so that pedestrians and cyclists each have their own crossing.

In Maple Ridge, shared pedestrian/cyclist crossings can be found along 122nd Ave. and Mountainview Crescent (at Maple Ridge Secondary School), along Abernathy Way between 224th and 232nd Streets, and you'll see them in Pitt Meadows when crossing Kennedy Road near Ferry Slip Road close to the Pitt River Bridge. The one in Pitt Meadows is painted green which helps provide clarity that this is a cyclist crossing.

Elephant feet are used for the convenience of cyclists. Having to get off your bike at every intersection is very  inconvenient and discourages people from biking. Imagine having to get out of your car at every intersection and having to push it across!

All road users need to be aware of safety issues with these types of crossings. Most car/bike collisions occur at intersections, and the danger increases when cyclists do not bike on the road. Drivers don't expect cyclists to enter an intersection from a sidewalk or off-road path. Often drivers also under-estimate the speed of a cyclist. Both drivers and cyclists need to slow down, and look out for other traffic nearing the intersection and potentially crossing their path, whether going straight or turning.

All the elephant crossings in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are along bi-directional multi-use paths, which means that drivers need to be extra cautious and look out for cyclists coming from both directions. Of course the same goes for drivers entering or exiting driveways that cross a multi-use path.

Maple Ridge also has its first "bike boxes", on Laity at the Lougheed intersection. A bike box is a painted green space on the road with a white bicycle symbol inside it. They allow cyclists to position themselves ahead of cars at an intersection. They are meant to reduce collisions between right-turning cars and cyclists going straight, and it also makes it easier for cyclists to make left turns. They also increase visibility of cyclists. What I like about them too is that you don't have to wait behind a car, breathing in its exhaust fumes.

Bike box on Laity
Motorists should of course stop behind the bike box. It's safest for cyclists going south on Laity to continue riding in the middle of the lane once past the intersection until they pass the narrowest section of roadway, so they don't get squeezed against the curb when a car passes too close.

Drivers, please be aware that cyclists riding in the middle of the lane most often do so to stay safe, so your patience and courtesy would be much appreciated. Please help cyclists get home safe and sound!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

128th Ave. widening

An Open House was held on January 28 about the widening of 128th Ave./Abernathy corridor.
You can find more info about the project here. Click on the link on the City's info page to view the display boards that were used at the Open House.

Our HUB committee provided the following recommendations to the City:

Rather than separating the 1% fast and fearless cyclists from the other 59-or-so% that are not quite as fast and confident, and letting the latter share a multi-use path with pedestrians with dogs and strollers, it's pedestrians and cyclists that should be separated from eachother. 

HUB's solution:

Instead of MUP and 1.5 wide shoulder on north side:
  • Eliminate the 1.5 meter shoulder along the roadway on the north side, while maintaining the shoulder on the south side. 
  • Reduce the width of the pedestrian pathway to 2 meters. 
  • Reduce the buffer on the north side by 0.5 meter. 
  • Add a bi-directional, 3 meter wide bike path, accommodating the 1% going west, as well as the 59-or-so% less confident cyclists going in both directions.
  • Provide a clear separation between the pedestrian and the cycling paths (e.g. low curb, or green coloured asphalt for bike path).
  • Design intersection at 216th (and 224th) in a way that the cyclist + pedestrian crossing is highly visible to turning motorists (bike crossing painted green), and provide signage to indicate bi-directional nature of the bike path.  
  • Provide cyclist lights, synchronized east-west with traffic lights for cars.

  • Cyclists and cyclists mix better than cyclists and pedestrians.   
  • Maintaining the 1.5 meter shoulder on the south side allows fast and fearless cyclists to use that option when traveling in easterly direction, reducing the higher likelihood for these fast traveling cyclists to be hit by a turning motorist if they were to be traveling in the "wrong" direction on the north side of the road.
  • The 59% of cyclists who would cycle more if conditions were more favorable, are more likely to do so if they're given a status more equitable to that of other road users - i.e. by being given their own path - and if they don't need to stop at every intersection and thus keep their momentum, just like any other wheeled road users (this is even more important for non-motorized ones!).  

Other recommendations/comments:
  • Driveway crossings should be painted green to discourage cars from blocking the path while waiting for a gap in traffic. Driveway crossings could also be raised through the driveway to provide further indication that cyclists have right of way. 
  • Care should be given to provide wide enough gaps between any bollards, with straight lines at intersections, as much as possible. One bollard at either side of each driveway, in the middle of the path, should be sufficient. If at some point in time it is determined that bollards are required on either side of the path at each driveway, these bollards should be placed on the outside of the path, not on the path (as was done on the Lougheed Highway MUP. These make the path feel much narrower).
  • Shoulder on south side seems to disappear just east of Golden Ears Cheesecrafters? Needs to continue all the way to 224th.
  • Users of the MUP going westbound should get a warning at the dike access point just west of Laity, that the MUP ends at 210th Street.
  • Cyclist crossing on the south side at Laity should be painted green (on the design panel it looks like a pedestrian crossing, which would mean that cyclists have to dismount to cross).
  • The use of concrete barriers would be good along some of the sections of the MUP where the buffer is narrow, to provide better separation from cars. No barriers should be placed close to driveways/intersections, to ensure good visibility. Any barriers should not be placed on the MUP, but beside it.
  • Need a pedestrian crossing at Blackstock, with push button activated lights.
  • Use tight turn radii to make cars slow down when they turn!
  • Please ensure surface water drainage on the north side of 128th Ave. doesn't impact the pathways.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

River Road barriers / E-mail to City of Maple Ridge

Our HUB committee just sent the following e-mail to the Maple Ridge Engineering Department (David Pollock)
(cc'd to Mayor Read and Councilors Speirs and Duncan)

Hi David,

We at HUB were unaware that neighbourhood consultation on traffic calming for River Road had taken place in November 2014, until someone posted some photos on our HUB Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows facebook group of the barriers that have been put up recently along River Road. Someone else just today noticed the display boards from the neighbourhood consultation that are posted on the Maple Ridge website.

As you know, River Road is being used as a fast commuter route by cyclists. Safety for cyclists has long been a concern though, with few cyclists other than the "strong and fearless" being brave enough to use this route. Safety for cyclists has now become an even greater concern, as the barriers have caused some drivers to exhibit an even more aggressive behaviour towards cyclists. 

As you know, the nearest east-west long-distance commuter route is Lougheed Highway, which is even more dangerous. The next one up, the Selkirk route, is unsuitable as a fast commuter route due to the many stop signs. Dewdney, the next closest east-west route, is even more dangerous than both River Road and Lougheed. It is unreasonable to expect cyclists to ride as far north as the 121- or 123 bikeway to find a safer commuter bike route (distance at 216th: 1 km to 121 route, 1.3 km to 123 route; at 207 St 1.6 km; at 224th 1.1 km to 121 route and 1.8 km to the 123 route , with a very steep hill). For this reason, it is important that cyclists' concerns are considered with regard to any traffic calming measures on River Road.

We would like to request the Engineering Department to immediately take the following measures all along River Road:
  • put up Share the Road signs
  • paint sharrows

These are the absolute minimum requirements to - marginally - improve safety for cyclists on River Road.

River Road was clearly designed to be a low speed, low volume residential road. Too many drivers are choosing River Road to avoid the traffic lights on Lougheed. To reduce rat-running, and to reduce the present traffic volumes that are not appropriate for this type of street, we would like the City to consider allowing left and right turns only at 216th or Laity Street, except for bicycles, through the use of bike-permeable diverters.

It is important for cyclists to have a fine grained network with lower traffic speeds that can be shared with cars, whereas drivers should be offered a coarse grained network of arterials for higher speed driving. It's important to preserve - and where possible improve - the few east-west routes cyclists have, in order to offer cyclists as well as pedestrians a truly multi-modal transportation network. 

With kind regards,

Jackie Chow
HUB Cycling
Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows Chapter

Here are some photos of the barriers that were installed:

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Open House road improvements 203rd Street: Feb. 17

The long-awaited Open House for improvements on 203rd Street (Dewdney to Golden Ears Way) is imminent: mark it on your calendars for Tues. Feb. 17, 4 - 8 pm. I've been told we'll see some innovative road design here, new for Maple Ridge. Click here for more info.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Column Maple Ridge News: Bike centre makes it easy to ride

My latest column in the Maple Ridge News of Jan. 31, 2015 is about Vancouver General Hospital's Cycling Centre.

Here's the unedited version with some photos (the link to the actual column is added below):

I often wonder why health authorities and cities are not more actively working together to encourage and promote active transportation, since the benefits of active transportation, both to individuals and to society as a whole, are overwhelmingly clear.
Where cities provide safe and convenient alternatives to the car,  individuals tend to be healthier and happier. That means huge savings to the health care system. More people walking and biking leads to lower health care costs both through a reduction in diseases related to a sedentary lifestyle and through a reduction in car crashes resulting in severe injury or death. Physically active employees also tend to be more productive employees.
Sometimes, the health authorities get it. Last Summer, hubbie Ivan (chair of our HUB committee) and I were given a private tour of Vancouver General Hospital's brand new, state-of-the-art Cycling Center. Our guide was Arthur Orsini, VGH's Active Transportation Facilitator. The Cycling Centre, which offers secure bike parking for hospital employees, is the brain child of VGH's HR Manager Kevin MacDuff, who also joined us.
VGH's state-of-the-art Cycling Centre
After extensive consultation with cycling employees, the old laundry building was converted into a bike parking area with space for 182 bikes. A significant amount of thought and effort went into designing, equiping as well as marketing the facility.
Arthur and the bike lockers
The Cycling Center offers showers, and lockers that are well ventilated, so that wet rain gear is dry by the end of the employee's shift. Bike tools, bike stands and pumps are available for needed maintenance or repairs. For those leaving the Cycling Center late at night, a monitor by the door helps to make sure that no creeps are waiting right outside the door.
The monitor by the door offers extra security for cyclists leaving late at night
Some finishing touches have proven to be quite popular. Any cyclist knows how handy it is to have some tissue at hand after a ride, especially on a cold day. A box of Kleenex is strategically positioned by the door. The bike lock storage rack is useful too; you don't need to carry a heavy lock back and forth between home and work.
Free monthly workshops are held for employees, such as a Streetwise Cycling Course and various bike mechanics workshops by HUB, bike yoga, as well as bike festivals and social gatherings. Arthur mentioned that one doctor who participated with the mechanics workshop afterwards proudly mentioned to him that she had successfully changed her tube.
Arthur plans to start with a buddy program this Spring, which partners a beginning cyclist with a more experienced one living in the same area, to help build some confidence and learn routes.
The low membership fees are flexible and cover the maintenance and operation of the facility. 
The Center now has over 180 members. Actual usage goes up and down, mainly depending on weather conditions. Last summer, 55 members were using the facility on a daily basis. The majority of hospital employees are female, which is reflected in the majority of users being women. We spoke with several of  them.
Melanie, who bikes from UBC to the hospital, loves the Cycling Center. She said she used the outdoor bike cage before, but didn't feel it was all that safe. Sometimes bikes got stolen from it. She had to pay for a membership to the gym to take a shower. She said the lockers in the new facility are great, because by the time you've finished your shift, your bike outfit is all dry and ready to go. It's also nice to be able to leave all your stuff overnight.
Elinor, a nurse, loves the feeling of community at the Cycling Center. She has a coordinating function, and hers is more of a desk job, so the exercise that her 20-minute commute provides is very welcome.
Elinor, ready for and looking forward to her trip home
Meilan, a business analyst admin, lives by Stanley Park. She appreciates the convenience of being able to change into her work clothes at the facility. She started biking, three times a week, soon after the Cycling Center opened. She used to only bike in the winter because of lack of shower facilities.
As companies and health authorities clue in to the many benefits of catering to and even pampering cyclists, hopefully more end-of-trip facilities such as the VGH Cycling Center will start popping up.

The link to the column: 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Update development proposal 20738 123 Avenue; 2013-041-RZ

This proposal is on the agenda for tomorrow's Council of the Whole meeting. The developer proposes to let less confident cyclists use the sidewalk as a solution to the dangerously narrow road, instead of widening of the road as a condition of this development application, which is what HUB would like to see happen.

I just sent the following e-mail to Mayor and Council:

Our HUB committee does not agree with the suggestion of the developer to officially designate the sidewalk as a multi-use facility for pedestrians and somewhat less "strong and fearless" cyclists. Even if some cyclists prefer to use the sidewalk in this area, many cyclists would rather avoid the sidewalk. But the narrow road does present significant challenges and should be widened as well as traffic-calmed.

Maple Ridge is one of perhaps only a handful of cities that has the dubious distinction to allow cycling on the sidewalk. I've heard that New Westminster allows cycling on the sidewalk only on some streets. I don't know of any others that do. Pedestrians and cyclists are generally not a good mix in urban areas. On urban streets with frequent pedestrian traffic, even if only during certain times of the day (e.g. on streets with schools), providing shared facilities for cyclists and pedestrians is not a good idea. It's also important to look ahead. In areas where densification and increased traffic is expected in the future, and on school routes, we should not mix cyclists and pedestrians on sidewalks.  

Dave Rush, an avid cyclist, who served as a member of the Bicycle Advisory Committee for quite a few years, and also acted as its Chair, and is one of the original founders and continues to be a member of our local HUB committee, provided this comment: "I ride through the 123 dip at least 10x per week and it is not for the faint of heart. It is just a matter of time before there is a head-on collision from a car going around a cyclist or a serious injury to a cyclist. There was a near fatal accident involving a scooter here about 2 years ago.
How the cycling issue is dealt with will be an excellent indicator of MR's desire to make it a cycling friendly community. Dave Rush"

Paul Scanlon, another experienced cyclist who has also sat on the BAC for several years and is presently still listed as a member, was one of the two people who did the assessment rides for this area in 2011, which was a joint effort of HUB Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows and the Bicycle Advisory Committee:"I believe you are talking about the hollow area on 123Ave that crosses the bush area at the bottom of the hill.  I agree that that area is a very hairy area to ride and already makes me nervous every time I ride it due to cars going by too fast and too close. Paul"

Our HUB Committee Chair, Ivan Chow: "Engineering at City Hall needs to take leadership in putting in proper infrastructure for cycling when there is an opportunity and not take the easy way out by just telling the cyclists to go on the sidewalk, in the process creating another set of conflicts with pedestrians and resulting in more calls for getting cyclists off the sidewalks".

Another one of our members, Tracey Eide, commented that it was her understanding that this Council wants to do away with sidewalk cycling and that Mayor Reid would be in favour of a Complete Streets program and that the rest of Council will be with her on that.

I would like to comment myself on the multi-use sidewalk along 122nd Ave (by Maple Ridge Secondary School), as I suspect that the intention of the Engineering Department to "redesign" 123 Ave. will probably lead to a similar design. When I bike along 122nd Ave., I hardly ever use the "multi-use" sidewalk. It slows you down significantly, since you really need to slow down and pay more attention at every intersection where you cross, as well as driveways, especially when you're going in the "wrong" direction (which is legal by the way where cycling on the sidewalk is allowed). When pedestrians walk in front of you, they never walk on the side, but always in the middle. If there are several people walking together, they'll block the entire width of the sidewalk. I find it more convenient and pleasant to ride on the road, which is faster, you can ride in a straighter line, you don't bother pedestrians and they don't bother you, and it's easier for drivers to see you. I might ride on the sidewalk and slow down to a crawl as needed to deal with all the pedestrian traffic during school start and finish times when the car traffic on the road is very busy. I consider myself an "enthused and confident" cyclist, to a point. I still don't feel that comfortable among cars driven by impatient parents picking up or dropping off kids at school. At any other time of the day, though, I ride on the road. 

"Accommodating" cyclists should be more about truly accommodatingcyclists than just about getting cyclists out of the way of cars. The goal should be to increase cycling participation. The main reasons why people choose to bike in successful cycling cities are that it's fast, convenient and safe. There's nothing fast and convenient about cycling on the sidewalk. Pedestrians don't like us to be there either. There are also significant concerns about safety at intersections and driveways (as I mentioned above), since drivers generally do not expect cyclists on the sidewalk, especially going in the wrong direction. People will bike on the sidewalk if they have to out of concern for their safety, but many will probably choose to drive or be driven instead if they are able to make that choice.

As to the feasibility of moving the sidewalk and widening the road: according to Dave Rush, who is a civil engineer, this is quite doable. He estimates the cost should be about $300,000.

Unfortunately I only had less than two days to consult with other cyclists, and I've only been able to get feedback from some on our committee, and I believe some people provided feedback directly to you as a result of a post on facebook which was 'seen' by 19 people as of time of sending this e-mail.

Thank you for your consideration of our comments.