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Category "Cycling"

8Sep

Province proposal to turn part of Trans Canada Trail to industrial use ‘mind-boggling’

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https://vancouversun.com/


Cyclists ride across a trestle bridge, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.


Handout/Trails Society / PNG

A historic rail trail that was donated to the province by the Trans Canada Trail society could be opened to logging trucks if a government proposal to cancel its trail designation gets the green light, say trail advocates.

The Ministry of Forests is seeking to transfer management of a 67-kilometre portion of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail to unspecified agencies to reflect local interests and support “access for industrial activity,” according to a letter sent to stakeholders soliciting feedback on the plan.

A major logging company holds tenure for several cut blocks near the trail, which runs from Castlegar to Fife, east of Christina Lake.

“It’s mind-boggling that they’re even considering this,” said Ciel Sander, president of Trails Society of B.C. “The trail is a government asset. It should be protected as a linear park, not an access road for logging trucks.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail was donated to the Trans Canada Trail decades ago by the Canadian Pacific Railway for inclusion in the The Great Trail, previously known as the Trans Canada Trail, a national trail network stretching 24,000 kilometres across the country.

In 2004, the committee transferred the trail to the B.C. government with the “expressed intention that it would be used and managed as a recreational trail,” said Trans Canada Trail vice-president Jérémie Gabourg.


A cyclist on the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

While the government’s proposal is clear that recreational access will remain, it marks the first time a group has sought to convert a portion of The Great Trail from a trail to a road in any province or territory.

“Sections of The Great Trail of Canada are on roadways, and we strive to move these sections of the trail to greenways, where possible,” said Gabourg. “To see a trail go from greenway to roadway is disheartening … It could set a dangerous precedent.”

The Columbia and Western Rail Trail connects with the popular Kettle Valley Rail Trail, a route that attracts cyclists from around the world. In accepting the trail from the Trans Canada Trail in 2004, the government made a commitment to preserve and protect it from motorized use, said Léon Lebrun, who was involved in the process as past president of Trails Society of B.C.

“We have a government who has not taken real responsibility,” he said. Officials have “turned a blind eye” to motorized users who have graded parts of the trail and removed several bollards designed to prevent access. “They had no permit and no permission, and the government did nothing.”

In its letter to stakeholders, the Ministry of Forests recognized vehicles are already accessing the trail, explaining the proposed administration change would ensure it was being maintained for that use.

“This portion of rail corridor contains engineered structures including steel trestles, hard rock tunnels, major culverts and retaining walls atypical of recreation trails and requiring management beyond typical trail standards,” said the letter by John Hawkins, director of Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.


Tracks on the trail, part of the Columbia and Western Rail Trail.

Handout/Trails Society

But Rossland Mayor Kathy Moore said that allowing motorized vehicles would be rewarding people who broke the law.

“While we acknowledge that this change reflects current use, this is clearly the result of years of mismanagement of what was intended as, and should have remained, a high-profile recreation and tourism amenity,” she replied to Hawkins in a letter that was shared with Postmedia.

“Those who have consistently flaunted trail use regulations are now being rewarded … We expect (Recreation Sites and Trails B.C.) to acknowledge this as a tragic failure, and ensure that resources and strategies are in place to prevent further losses of our valued trails.”

Stakeholders were given one month to register their feedback with the Ministry of Forests, ending Aug. 26.

In a statement, the Ministry of Forests said the process is ongoing to receive more information from regional districts. A decision is expected before the end of the year.

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30May

Bike lanes to nowhere: Fraser Valley communities working to create cycling networks

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It’s GoByBike week in B.C. But in Mission, most go by car.

A “pop-up” bike lane along 7th Avenue appears to be doing little to change that, as it was almost deserted Thursday afternoon.

“It’s just a pain,” said Michelle Leggett as she walked her six-year-old daughter Madeline Lutz home from school. “I think I’ve seen four bikers all week, and I’m pretty sure they’re regulars.”


Michelle Leggett and daughter Madeline Lutz.

Francis Georgian /

PNG

To create the lane, city staff closed one side of the street to parking from Monday to Friday. As a result, the side streets around the high school have been overwhelmed with parents dropping off their kids.

“We’re just too far out here,” said Leggett. “People commute to Vancouver or Burnaby, and they need a car.”

But despite public reluctance, bike lanes are being built in some of B.C.’s most car-centric communities. Earlier this week, the provincial government announced $10 million in cycling infrastructure funding across the province. It will be up to municipalities to change public perception — and tackle the challenges that come along with building a cycling network in the suburbs.

Mission’s pop-up bike lane is part of that. Council has already approved a permanent bike lane along 7th Avenue, and the temporary lane is designed to increase public engagement and gauge public reaction to the idea, said  Mission Community Cycling Coalition member Rocky Blondin.

“The design work on a permanent bike lane will be informed by what happens this week,” said Blondin, who is president of the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association.

The lane’s usage was “modest” at the start of the week, but seems to be increasing as people realize there is another option to get to school or the recreation centre. It’s the city’s first east-to-west bike lane and its first protected bike lane.

“It takes time for people to start thinking differently,” said Blondin.

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There are several challenges to increasing cycling in the Fraser Valley, according to advocates. While the number of bike lanes in cities outside Vancouver is increasing, many communities still lack a comprehensive network that can safely and efficiently take cyclists where they want to go.

“The strength in Vancouver is in a cycling network that’s connected and can get people from Point A to B,” said Erin O’Melinn, executive director of non-profit advocacy group, HUB Cycling. “The Fraser Valley is not yet at that point.”

Unused bike lanes give critics fodder for their fight against more cycling infrastructure during public consultation on the issue, she said.

“But cities need to understand that you can’t build a north-to-south route and expect it to be used. You need east-to-west too. The network is the game-changer.”

Some Fraser Valley cities are also challenged by the fact that their main roads are highways. Many cyclists aren’t comfortable biking on the shoulder of King George Highway or Lougheed Highway. Side roads often end in cul-de-sacs.


The “pop-up” bike lane along 7th Avenue in Mission.

Francis Georgian /

PNG

In Mission, where up to 70 per cent of residents leave town for work, it’s difficult to increase bicycle commuting when people must travel long distances.

But O’Melinn said progress is being made. With funding contributions from other levels of government, many cities are beginning to create cycling infrastructure, which remains cheap compared to other transportation options.

Surrey, in particular, has made significant strides in connecting its downtown core, she said, although the municipality’s size presents a challenge for linking the entire community.

Abbotsford signalled its intentions to make cycling a priority earlier this year with a new pedestrian and cycling bridge over Highway 1 connecting the University of the Fraser Valley to a main thoroughfare. The bridge is adorned with dozens of recycled aluminum bike wheels.

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Elsewhere in the Fraser Valley, progress on bike lanes is “hit and miss,” said University of the Fraser Valley urban geography professor John Belec. “It depends on the interest of each particular council to move forward on it.”

There is also significant backlash from a segment of the population that believes “roads are primarily for cars, and as a public space, cars have priority,” he said.

While councils may not be able to push through a comprehensive bike network all at once, many are beginning to lay the groundwork and put small segments in place.

“It takes courage and energy — and a faith that they will be used,” said Belec.

In Chilliwack, cycling advocates are working to fill in the “gaps on the map,” said David Swankey, co-chair of Cycle Chilliwack. Using a rail corridor that loops through the community, the challenge is to develop clear and safe routes from there. The city is still working to determine what those routes will look like.

Swankey said advocates want to see routes that are accessible and safe for everyone, including seniors and kids on their way to school, which would increase their use.

“It’s an ongoing to process to see how it will roll out in the years to come,” he said.

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BikeBC funding

Earlier this week, the provincial government announced $10 million in funding for cycling infrastructure projects across B.C. Municipalities must apply for the grants, which cover between 50 to 75 per cent of project costs, depending on population.

The BikeBC money helps communities pay for new bikeways, or improve safety and accessibility on existing pathways.

Several cities on the South Coast received funding for 2019-20, including:

• The City of Abbotsford is approved to receive $299,685 for a separated two-way cycle track connecting elementary, middle and high schools to the recreation centre, library and the Discovery Trail.

• The City of Chilliwack is approved to receive $437,263 to extend a separated pathway between Airport Road and Hocking Avenue on the Valley Rail Trail, providing a north-south connection for all ages and abilities.

• The City of North Vancouver is approved to receive $1 million toward the Casano-Loutet cycling and pedestrian bridge over Highway 1.

• The City of Pemberton is approved to receive $7,500 to develop a cycling network plan that addresses active transportation within the community.

• The District of Squamish is approved to receive $210,450 for upgrades to the Dentville section of the Discovery Trail, which will include a separated paved path with lighting.

• The City of Vancouver is approved to receive $150,925 for cycling and pedestrian safety improvements at the 800 Robson Street Permanent Plaza.

• The City of Vancouver is also approved to receive $1 million for upgrades to the downtown bike network.

• The District of West Vancouver is approved to receive $50,700 for separated bike lanes between the districts of West Vancouver and North Vancouver.

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26May

New 2019 Vancouver Bike Map highlights Triple AAA Network

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The free 2019 Vancouver Bike Map is available during Bike to Work Week, Monday, May 27, to Sunday, June 2.


PNG

New 2019 City of Vancouver Bike Maps highlighting the all-ages-protected bike lanes will be handed out starting Monday during Bike to Work Week.

The city has printed 20,000 of the weather-resistant bike maps showing the latest changes to the bike network, said Dale Bracewell, manager of transportation for the City of Vancouver.

The map highlights what’s called the AAA Network: AAA stands for All Ages and Abilities and refers to a protected bike lane separated from motorized traffic by physical barriers such as planters or curbs. The AAA lanes are shown in yellow outlined in green on the maps.

One of the big additions to the AAA network since the last update a few years ago is on the Cambie Bridge.

“We made the switch in the last year on the Cambie Bridge,” Bracewell said. “Now one-way north bound is on the east side and one way south bound is on a protected bike lane on the other side. It has the kind of detail that matters for people in terms of understanding that part of our Triple AAA Network and how it connects to the seawall.”

One side of the map shows the biking network in the city core that stretches from the bikeway along Woodland Drive to the east; the stretch of bikeway along West 14th to the south; the protected bike lanes on the Coal Harbour Seawall and Alexander Street to the north; as well as the downtown core. It’s roughly the footprint of the Mobi Bike Share network.

On the other side, the map shows all the protected bike lanes, local street bikeways, painted bike lanes and shared-use lanes throughout the city and out to the University of B.C.

A new addition to the map is a section on Micro Mobility that uses a graphic to show where people can ride bicycles, E-bikes, mopeds and skateboards.

The bike maps are free. They’ll be handed out at the City of Vancouver Bike to Work stations.

Bike to Work Week, organized by HUB Cycling in Metro, starts Monday, May 27, and continues through to Sunday, June 2. Monday also marks the beginning of Bike to School Week. Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, is Bike to Shop Week.

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