Stephen Rees's blog

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

Bicycle Diaries: Episode Four

with 7 comments

I was going to use the title “Who is Arthur Laing, and why does he hate cyclists so much?” but that would not be fair.

I was out yesterday trying out my newly modified bike. I went over the Canada Line bridge because that gave me an incline to try. The ramp is quite steep and the granny gears ought to have been useful. Well they might have been if the shifter had been set up properly: the bike is back in the shop this morning. The new front suspension is also amazingly noisy.

As reported before, the north end of the new bike bridge is not well connected to the network. In fact, on the bike route map all three bridge heads have that red circle denoting “zone of caution” (see below). Heather is the on street bike route but Kent is also marked as “neighbourhood street”. Either way you eventually have to deal with South West Marine Drive a “major street with shared lane” to come back over the Arthur Laing bridge. That was much less scary than I thought it would be – the grade is gentler than the bike bridge!

On Marine Drive a truck tried to wipe me against the side of a parked truck – I know he saw me since I saw his face in his mirror – and I will not forget that expression. He had plenty of room to move left but decided to move right. I was able to stop in time. By curious coincidence the Guardian this morning has a piece entitled “What’s the best way to keep cyclists safe from the monsters of the road“?

The message needs repeating as often as possible, but there must be a better way to avert the danger posed by lorries

Actually my problem was not with me riding on the inside of an eighteen-wheeler, but being overtaken by a four-wheeler –  a full-sized truck not a panel van.

Unlike the “look out for each other” campaign (top), this ad has nothing to tell the men in the cabs.

But the mindset that says bikes should not be on the road – even roads which are wide and have marked “shared lanes” (even if the lane is blocked by a parked truck) – is what I see all the time as the problem. Many drivers move over to get cyclists space: indeed that is about all the marked (unprotected) bike lane is supposed to do. And as we have seen the City of Vancouver recognizes more protection is needed  in order to encourage more cycling, when the simple presence of a “critical mass” raises motorist awareness of cyclists, even if it cannot do very much to get through the attitude that cyclists “need to be given a scare”.

Women on bikes in cities are in the vanguard of improving transportation, and arguably the whole urban environment, just by being there.

And that thought is also seen today in the Daily Beast – that more women are cycling

Cyclistas on the Arthur Laing

The traffic is keeping well to the left – but there happens not to be a truck is sight. The tricky bit is using the ramp up from the east side of the bridge (as well as getting to the ramp from the curb lane of Marine Drive): there is a “gore” with a curb you can put your foot on while you wait for a gap in the flow. But gaps are few are far between since the last traffic light is way back at Granville and traffic has been merging in from the industrial area on the north bank of the Fraser (Milton Street) and from UBC on SW Marine. The grade over the bridge is notably gentler than that used for the ramps on each side of the Canada Line Bridge. But there is still a switchback.

On Sea Island there are off street paved paths but a considerable duplication of distance – and a further loop back under the new Canada Line Middle Arm bridge – then a bit of street which seems to have no other purpose which dead ends in a “banjo” with a little gap through the barrier for the path which comes out near the Delta Hotel  under the swing bridge. This all seems to fall under the authority of YVR, and probably satisfies the recreational cyclists who like to get to Iona Beach and the long flat stretches of Grauer and Ferguson roads. But is seems to me that it doesn’t really look like commuters – for instance the people who work at YVR or go to school at the new BCIT campus – or work in the offices along Cessna drive were really considered.

Cycle routes near the bridges

The purple line on the map seems to suggest that you might be able to somehow get underneath the offramp from the bridge and ride “wrong way” on the Middle Arm bridge ramp but that is not the case so far as I could see. Some of those black bridge markings seem to have been omitted from the map – for example look at those crossings of the Canada line. The map  is available as a pdf from Translink. And, so far as I can see there is still no off street paved route eastbound connecting Great Canadian Way to the “Canada Line SkyBridge”.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 15, 2010 at 12:20 pm

7 Responses

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  1. I like the YVR part well enough in that at least one can get safety around from bridge to bridge, even if the paths aren’t all that direct. Apparently the north end of the Canada line bridge may get the majorly needed improvements to connect to the bikeways near there, $2.3M worth, according to

    Then if one can get easily onto the Vancouver Ontario route, it’s clear sailing to False Creek.


    September 15, 2010 at 1:33 pm

  2. Thanks for the link. Its worth noting that what they are talking about is connecting the bridge head east west to the Fraser River trail – not north south. The main beef I have is that the zig zag ramp to Kent was a poor choice compared to a steady straightline gentler drop to Marine Drive (and that was Translink’s decision not the City’s.) But Vancouver is far ahead of the rest of the region in terms of bike facilities. Richmond has no such commitment and only has a piecemeal approach implemented when someone else picks up the tab – like the No3 Rd bike lane.

    Stephen Rees

    September 15, 2010 at 1:44 pm

  3. note about Canada Line Bridge:

    on Van Horne Way between Great Canadian Way and River Road there is a westbound on-street bike lane and an off-street paved multi-use path for two-way pedestrians (as there is no sidewalk on the other side of the street) and northbound cyclists. This new cycling-pedestrian facility links the Bridge with the exiting off-street Bridgeport Trail as well as the bike lanes on Great Canadian Way.

    The City of Richmond also installed a pedestrian signal at Van Horne Way & Great Canadian Way to help cyclists & pedestrians cross the Great Canadian Way. They will be adding a loop detector stencil for cyclists within the next month or so so that cyclists don’t have to go up on the sidewalk to press the button.

    The City also installed directional signage and sharrows along Charles St-Smith St-Beckwith Rd to direct cyclists to YVR and No. 3 Road.


    September 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm

  4. A two way multi use path doesn’t really improve matters – and sharrows do absolutely nothing at all. Motorists are supposed to share the road anyway – and it is their lack of willingness to do so that causes the problems. Riding on the sidewalk is illegal – and forcing cyclists to do that in specific locations is simply a cheap way to avoid doing the right thing and also sows confusion over what is not allowed in other situations. I see many cyclists on the sidewalk of Steveston Highway. Given the universal disdain for the 50 km/hr limit on that road and the volumes of truck traffic I do not blame them – but it is not legal there. So why is it legal on one side of Van Horne Way?

    Stephen Rees

    September 16, 2010 at 9:56 am

  5. There are new sharrows just installed on Dunbar street through the intersection with King Edward in Vancouver, but riding on them resulted in beep-beep… Guess it’ll take a while for everyone to adjust

    I’ll have give that path on Van Horne a try, it wasn’t ready yet last time I rode there. Although unless there’s a sign saying it is, I don’t believe its use is mandatory.


    September 16, 2010 at 10:08 am

  6. […] Gregor Robertson to Talk Bicycles [The Tyee] Why a Streetcar Is Something to Be Desired [The Tyee] Bicycle Diaries: Episode Four [Stephen Rees's Blog] One in three B.C. vehicles could be electric by 2030: think-tank [Vancouver […]

    re:place Magazine

    September 17, 2010 at 8:51 am

  7. […] 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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