Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Information Session: 227th Street separated bike lanes

If you haven't had a chance to attend the Information Session on August 8 for the separated bike lanes planned for 227th Street between Dewdney Trunk Road and Abernathy Way, you can now view the display boards and conceptual design boards on-line.

It would be greatly appreciated if you can send your e-mail of support to:

David Pollock, P.Eng., dpollock@mapleridge.ca

With copies to:
Maria Guerra, mguerra@mapleridge.ca
Michael Eng, meng@mapleridge.ca

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Information Session 123 Ave. separated bike lanes: Aug. 1

Information Session for protected bike lanes on 123 Ave. between 203rd Street and Laity Street:

Tues. Aug. 1, 2017, 4:00 - 8:00 pm
Maple Ridge City Hall, Foyer

This stretch of 123 Ave. is part of a designated and important east-west bike route (123 route) and as such needs to be safe for all ages and abilities. It will connect to the new protected bi-directional cycle track on 203rd Street.

There have been numerous complaints of speeding cars, which not only endanger cyclists and pedestrians, but also make the street less pleasant to live on. So something needs to be done.

Over a year ago, the City held an Open House to get input from citizens about the planned traffic calming, consisting of traffic circles and curb bulges. This solution would have made the street more dangerous for cycling however, and there was significant feedback from the cycling community in support of the second option on display at the open house, namely, protected bike lanes, which is what the City is now considering. So that's why the City is now putting on this Information Session.

Note that there has been some negative feedback from residents along 203rd Street as well as drivers with regard to the bi-directional cycle track between Dewdney and Golden Ears Way, and residents are now concerned about what 123 Ave. is going to look like.

A definite positive for 123 Ave. is that the bike lanes there are going to be uni-directional, on both sides of the road, which means drivers won't have the challenge of having to deal with cyclists coming from both directions when crossing the bike lanes. Therefore there will also be less need for copious amounts of that in-your-face bright green paint.

Some of the other concerns that have come to our attention:

Loss of practically all street parking
All along 123 Ave. are single family homes with sizable driveways, which should satisfy residential parking needs for a good part, with the exception of some additional need for visitor parking. There is also curb parking available on a number of side streets. Curb parking close to Laityview School has up till now been heavily used at pick-up and drop-off times.

Loss of some of Volker Park
Extra parking will be created as part of this project at Volker Park to accommodate parking for the school. As the school is French immersion, more students than average do not live in the catchment area and may need to be dropped off and picked up by car. Residents understandably do not like to lose part of Volker Park. Some feel that the desire to provide convenient car parking for all - even for short periods of time on school days only - should trump the need to provide safe cycling infrastructure for all ages and abilities 24/7 (which will not only allow more kids to get themselves to school on their own power, but also will make it possible for other residents to use the bike for some of their transportation needs).

Please help HUB Cycling to make cycling better and safer for all ages and abilities in Maple Ridge by attending this Information Session and providing your input.

If you're not able to make it to the Information Session, the display boards and drawings will be posted within days after the Information Session, so make sure you check out the link below and send an e-mail with your feedback to:

David Pollock, P.Eng., at dpollock@mapleridge.ca (Director of Engineering)
Mayor and Council at mayorandcouncil@mapleridge.ca

with cc's to the Engineering Department:

Maria Guerra, mguerra@mapleridge.ca, and
Michael Eng, meng@mapleridge.ca)

We would love to receive a copy as well. You can send it to: mapleridge-pittmeadows@bikehub.ca.

Make sure to thank both Mayor and Council as well as Engineering for their commitment to make cycling better for all, and for the facilities on 203rd Street.

Of course besides safety there are many more arguments you can use to support these bike lanes. E.g. improved health outcomes, for kids it means improved learning, behaviour and development thanks to active transportation, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improved livability, a more equitable transportation system that works for all, reduced need for parking, etc.

Thank you for your help! We can not do this without you!

Friday, May 12, 2017

HUB Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows meeting dates 2017/2018

Our meetings are on the second Thursday of the month, with the exception of the November meeting, which is on the third Thursday.

Location: Maple Ridge Library, Alouette Room (upstairs).
Time: 6:45 - 8:45 pm.

Here's a list of the meeting dates from January until August 2018:

January 11
February 8
March 8
April 12
May 10
June 14
July 12
August 9

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Art Studio Bike Tour 2017, May 13 and 14 (Mother's Day weekend)

Updated May 11: It was our intention just to provide maps for this tour, but several people have asked us to do a guided tour as well. So we've decided to do a guided tour of route #2 (Maple Ridge) on Sunday, May 14, 10:00 am, starting at Studio #19 (Diane Speirs, 23386 124 Ave.). Please e-mail Jackie (jchow23708@yhoo.ca) by Friday May 12 if you would like to join us! Maximum participants per group is seven.

For this year's Art Studio Bike Tour, we've decided, instead of guiding a tour, just to provide maps of the two routes we've put together for those who like to explore the local arts scene in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows by bike. This way people can go at their own pace, with their own group of family or friends, or just by themselves.

E-mail Jackie at jchow23708@yahoo.ca for pdf files of the routes that you can print out yourself.

Here is the link to the Art Studio Tour, where you can find more information about the event.

Below are the suggested bike routes, with a list of artists along the route:

Route #1 (Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge)

Distance: 11 km. Flat route.
Suggested direction: counter-clockwise.

List of artists for route #1:

#2 - Gone Hooking Group and Whonnock Weavers and Spinners Guild
12479 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows

#3 - United at Ten Artists
Pitt Meadows Library, 12099 Harris Road, Pitt Meadows

#4 - Brad Dinwoodie
11673 192A Street, Pitt Meadows

#5 - Rob Egan
11741 195B Street, Pitt Meadows

#7 - Uma Sharda
#105-20285 Stewart Crescent, Maple Ridge

#8 - Dorothy Johnson
20437 Dale Drive, Maple Ridge

Route #2 (Maple Ridge)

Distance: 7 km. Flat route.

Suggested start/end point: you can start at any of the studios along the route,  and bike in the direction of your choice.

If you’re driving to the route, we suggest you park your car on the street at any of the studios along the route. 

Art studios for route #2:

#11 - Darrell Swanson
12865 224 St., Maple Ridge

#12 - Jane Mackay
22416 129 Ave., Maple Ridge

#20 - Karen van der Pauw
12895 234B St., Maple Ridge

#19 - Diane Speirs, Alouette Mountain Studio
23386 124 Ave., Maple Ridge

#18* - Rebecca Fisher
11980 Glenhurst Street, Maple Ridge

* When visiting studio #18, cross Dewdney Trunk Road at the crosswalk at 234 Street, and bike along Dewdney on the south sidewalk to get to Glenhurst Street.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Cycling on the sidewalk once again hot topic in Maple Ridge

I appreciate being being given the opportunity to write columns about cycling for the Maple Ridge News, but I wish my columns didn't have to be edited. I usually prefer my original version. Problem is, they're usually too long.

Below is the original version of my latest column in The News "Make sidewalks, streets safe":

Maple Ridge's new Active Transportation Advisory Committee is looking for a solution to the cycling-on-the-sidewalk problem in our downtown, a frequently recurring topic of discussion among council members for years already. At its March meeting, Ineke Boekhorst of the BIA, Don Mitchell of the Seniors Society, as well as a a lady who owns a business on 224th Street, all told the committee that elderly people are often afraid to walk on the sidewalks, as inconsiderate and rude people on bikes could easily knock them off their feet, with serious consequences.

Evidence is anecdotal in nature as there has been an absence of hard data, but nevertheless I agree it's a problem that needs to be addressed. 
The fear alone of being hit by a person on a bike will keep seniors from going out for a walk to exercise or do some errands. They should feel safe to do so.

The problem is by no means unique to Maple Ridge, even though our city distinguishes itself from everywhere else in B.C. by having a by-law that allows cycling on sidewalks anywhere in town. New Westminster allows cycling on certain sidewalks only. 

Our by-law dates from 2009. When an open house was held at the time to gather input from residents about the proposed new by-law, Brock MacDonald, the then Director of By-laws, told me that the reason for the change to allow cycling on the sidewalk was that the By-laws department was getting too many complaints from people in residential neighbourhoods who wanted them to issue fines to their neighbours for allowing their kids to ride their bikes on the sidewalks. They were tired of having to deal with these complaints. I agree. Kids should be able to ride their bikes on the sidewalks if the roads are too dangerous due to speeding cars. 

In the downtown, it's rarely kids biking on the sidewalk. You'll see basically two different varieties of adults on bikes. The "bike bandit" types mostly wear hoodies or baseball caps, and they're commonly suspected of riding stolen bicycles. Again, anecdotally, anyone who crosses their path when they're zigzagging at high speeds around obstacles on our sidewalks, risks losing life and limbs. They don't give a hoot about by-laws.

And then we have the so-called "legitimate" people on bikes, of which I consider myself one.  As far as I've seen they're mostly very considerate. They slow down for pedestrians and politely use their bells, which people walking would be able to hear if only they didn't plug their ears with headsets to listen to loud music. These "legitimates" mostly wear helmets too. Somehow some people feel that if a person on a bike does not wear a helmet, he or she is automatically considered guilty as charged, whatever the charge. 

So why are people on bikes on the sidewalk in the first place?
The answer is plain and simple: they fear for their lives, having to share the road with speeding cars and inconsiderate and rude drivers! 

If people can't safely ride on the road, either they'll ride on the sidewalk - by-law or no by-law - or they won't ride at all. You can't argue with fear. I'd personally rather get a fine than be killed.

Bicycles are obviously not welcome on Lougheed and Dewdney. 
There are some designated east-west bike routes. All have been designed to accommodate car traffic, but discourage through traffic, with stop signs at every intersection. Perhaps not surprisingly, stop signs discourage cycle traffic even more, as frequent stop-and-go's waste a lot of precious energy and are time consuming. Helpful drivers who stop and wave people on bikes through actually unintentionally make crossing intersections more hazardous for cyclists as driver behaviour becomes less predictable.

The purpose of these designated bike routes is mostly to keep cyclists out of the way of cars on the arterials so they don't have to slow down. 

But wait, we want them to slow down!

That's the other problem that the Active Transportation Committee wants to find a solution to: speeding throughout the town core. It's one that's not easily solved. 30 km/h signs are not going to do it, as drivers will continue to drive at the speed that feels safe to them, even if it doesn't feel safe to others.

Maple Ridge Director of Engineering David Pollock says "road design is key". But the 'improved' design hasn't worked so well on Lougheed so far. Speed is pretty hard to control on an arterial if you have two lanes in each direction.  

The question that needs to be answered is: what do we want our downtown to be: a people-place - with streets that are inviting to young and old, with outdoor terraces, where people like to hang out - or a traffic sewer system? Right now, Dewdney and Lougheed are traffic sewers, the purpose of which is to accommodate the fast and efficient movement of cars on our streets.  

Fact is, people on bikes don't feel safe on some of our roadways and pedestrians don't feel safe on our sidewalks. You wouldn't want to sit down on a sidewalk bench along Lougheed Highway unless you need to. You can barely have a conversation walking along Dewdney or Lougheed without yelling at the other person. 

The ATAC committee first wants to focus on 224th Street, where speeds are already lower than most. It'll be a good start. Hopefully before long other roads will follow and we'll slowly but surely see our downtown transformed into a more people-friendly place.  Eventually, as the town core further densifies, all streets should be designed to accommodate all road users and make everyone, including people on bikes, feel welcome and safe. 

The cycling-on-the-sidewalk problem cannot be solved without solving the issues of speeding and cyclist safety. After all, you really can't argue with fear.