Read all about the Sea to River Bike Route in Burnaby¡
So I went on my very first cycle route assessment ride on Sunday, with members of the VACC (Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition) Burnaby group. The ride was led by Moreno, an enthusiastic and very knowledgeable cycling activist, bursting with good ideas about how to improve the route.
Moreno advised that the purpose of the assessment ride was to look at three areas:
- the current state of the route (maintenance or other related fixes)
- enforcement-related safety issues and
- evaluating the route design for “Cycling Safety for everyone.”
As this was Burnaby’s very first assessment ride, we were assisted by Terry from the Vancouver group, who has had a lot of experience with these kinds of assessment rides.
Terry advised that we were not to view the route from our own point of view; instead, we were to assess whether seniors and children would be able to comfortably and safely negotiate the route. This is the way to assess whether a route really does promote “Cycling Safety for everyone.”
We set off at 1.00 p.m. from Carleton and Triumph, and rode to the southern end of the Sea to River route, and back again. It was a slow ride, as we stopped constantly to take photos, and wait while Moreno wrote down notes on problem areas. With all this data, Moreno will put together a report, including suggestions for improvements, for submission to the City of Burnaby. He will be running it past other members of the Burnaby VACC first, and I look forward to helping with it, if I can.
I realized that I have a lot to learn about improving cycling infrastructure. For example, I learned from Moreno that best practice is not to have separate cycling lanes on very quiet streets, but rather to have cyclists integrate with the low traffic volumes there. So my call for that, when I did my review of the Sea to River route, was incorrect – as pointed out by Stu Ramsey in his response on behalf of the City of Burnaby. Well, you live and learn!
The report is now being worked on, and I won’t pre-empt it by going into details here. However, I can sum up our impressions succinctly: as a group of adult, seasoned cyclists, there were many parts of the route (especially on Gilmore), where we all agreed that cycling would be terrifying at peak traffic times, and that the route really had no right to call itself a cycling route at all in these parts. (Guys, I think I have got this right – correct me if I am misquoting.)
When I showed up for that assessment ride, I commented that I could not whine about cycling routes on my blog, and then not get off my butt and onto my bike to help with the assessment. In fact, I have fumed about poor cycling infrastructure for years. Now, between writing this blog and showing up for that assessment ride, I feel I am finally doing something about it. It feels so good to direct all that anger in a constructive way!
Not to mention how much fun it was to be with a group of like-minded people! Usually when I rail about cycling conditions, I am uneasily aware that most people are looking at me like I’m a crazy person. This was a nice change …
If you also feel strongly about making conditions safer and better for cyclists, I urge you to sign up for your local cycling activist group! There’s a link for the VACC on the sidebar of this site. And most major cities have their own cycling activist group.
Go ahead and do it – like me, you may feel a lot better with a constructive outlet for the fury that naturally ensues from being treated like second-class citizens – which is, I am afraid, the way cyclists are treated.