Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cycling on the sidewalk on certain street segments in downtown Maple Ridge

At Council Workshop on January 9, Maple Ridge Council had a discussion on two recommendations by the Active Transportation Advisory Committee. Here is the link to the recordings of the meeting.

The recommendations were:

1.  to ban cycling on the sidewalk on:

  • 224 Street, from North Avenue to 122 Avenue
  • Dewdney Trunk Road, from 222 Street to 227 Street
  • Lougheed Highway, from 222 Street to 227 Street
  • Edge Street, from McIntosh Avenue to Dewdney Trunk Road.


The discussion on cycling on the sidewalk starts at 1:57.

2. Reducing the speed limit on 224th Street between Lougheed and Dewdney from 50 to 30 km/h.
Discussion begins at 2:13.

This issue will go back to the Active Transportation Advisory Committee, with the request to look at extending the section of 224th to North Ave. to the south, and 122nd Ave. to the north, and also to look at the feasibility of reducing the speed limit on Dewdney.

Regarding cycling on the sidewalk:

In principle it's a good idea not to allow cycling on the sidewalk. The problem, however, is that cycling on some of these roads is too dangerous, and people on bikes tend to disregard any laws that will put their lives in danger.

For some reason the Active Transportation Advisory Committee decided to recommend to apply the changes to the by-law only to bikes, but not roller blades and skateboards. Coun. Masse would like to see those added.

Note especially the comments by Coun. Shymkiw, at 2:06. He would like to ban bikes altogether, as he feels they're the cause of all congestion and greenhouse gas emissions in Maple Ridge!

All but Coun. Speirs are in support of the cycling ban on the above mentioned sidewalks.

I sent the following personal comments to Maple Ridge Council:

Mayor and Council,

I would like to make the following comments after listening to Council members' comments  made during Council Workshop of January 9 with regard to banning cycling on the sidewalks on certain sections of streets in the downtown core.

First of all, it's nice to once again hear the voice of reason: thank you Councillor Speirs, for standing up for the needs of people on bikes of all ages and abilities, and for a healthier, more livable city that works for everyone, not just for those in cars!

The topic of cycling on the sidewalks has come back time and time again over the past decade since the by-law allowing it in Maple Ridge came into force.

I'll just repeat some points that our HUB Committee has tried to explain to respective Councils over the years:

  • The only effective way to solve the problem of cycling on the sidewalk is to give people on bikes a safe place on the road. Even if it is no longer allowed, people will continue to ride on the sidewalk (the majority will do so with due care and consideration) as long as they fear for their lives when riding on the road.
  • Under the by-law that's now to be rescinded, cycling on the sidewalk is only allowed with due care and consideration. That means that the by-law already gave the RCMP the full ability to address irresponsible behaviour. There is no reason whatsoever to assume that this behaviour will change by banning cycling on certain sidewalks. The changed by-law will, however, make our downtown less accessible and welcoming for the law-abiding segment of the cycling population, as the RCMP have already stated they will now need to go after all people on bikes who seek refuge on the sidewalk, whether they ride with due care and consideration or not.

I sincerely hope that this will not distract the RCMP from dealing with the more serious dangers on our roads: speeding, distracted driving and otherwise irresponsible behaviour by drivers who can and do kill and maim their fellow road users.

I totally understand the concern that especially elderly pedestrians have with those riding their bikes on the sidewalks "zooming" along with no consideration for the safety of others.

However, somehow the concerns that people on bikes have about hostile, aggressive and inconsiderate behaviour of some drivers (it only takes one!) continue to be entirely ignored by the majority of members of Council. As Coun. Speirs rightly stated: "there's a big difference between being scared as a senior and being dead as a cyclist".

A few more years and I'll be part of the senior demographic myself. I find it totally incomprehensible that my life only appears to matter as a pedestrian, but is seen as expendable when I happen to be riding my bike, senior or no senior. I've met numerous seniors who get around by bike, whether by necessity or by choice. I think they should be enthusiastically welcomed to our downtown, and they should be encouraged in their efforts to keep active and healthy for as long as they possibly can. We're making it pretty darn difficult for them sometimes!

Hopefully, now that the decision has been made, we can move on and do more to make people on bikes feel more welcome and safe in our downtown, and to improve designated bike routes in the downtown core, which are still mostly no more than lines on a map. There should be more to a designated bike route than merely directing people on bikes away from the more convenient and busier routes, and to the routes with all the stop signs, where the cyclist is almost always required to give the right of way to the car.  

Safer cyclists means safer pedestrians. Dangerous road conditions for cyclists means more dangerous sidewalk conditions for pedestrians AND cyclists. Increasing density in our downtown makes cycling an increasingly viable mode of transportation, but only when and if cyclists are given a safe space.

I would further like to touch on some comments made by Coun. Shymkiw, who appears to blame bikes for congestion and increased greenhouse gas emissions due to "ripping out car lanes and replacing them with bike lanes". He's even of the opinion that bikes should be banned altogether. Some on Council may seem to find his comments hilariously funny, however, we're talking about human lives here, and I feel any comments made in a Council meeting regarding life and death issues should be taken dead serious.

I would like to point out that:

  • Nowhere in Maple Ridge have road lanes been taken away from cars and given to bikes. On 203rd Street residents now have less public street parking due to the cycle track, but the available road space for moving cars has not changed. Ample street parking is still available in the area. Reduced parking on this street does not result in congestion. Cars are still prioritized above every other road user on every single road in Maple Ridge. Congestion is caused by too many cars on our roads, and a lack of viable alternative transportation options. Bikes can cause delays for cars where they are forced to use narrow road lanes, and no bike lanes, shoulders or separated infrastructure are available. The problem is poor infrastructure, not the presence of bikes.
  • Community greenhouse gas emissions in our city from transportation sources are almost entirely caused by cars and trucks - not by bikes - and they're going up. Maple Ridge has committed to reducing community greenhouse gas emissions by 33% from 2007 levels by 2020, regardless of our population growth. I find it very disturbing that reducing greenhouse gasses is seen as a joke, judging from the suggestion by Coun. Shymkiw to ban bikes and push more people into cars. Scientists are overwhelmingly in agreement that climate change is for a large part to be blamed on human activity. I think that, being among the biggest emitters in the world, as Canadians we have a responsibility to our children and to those living in the countries and regions most seriously affected by climate change, to take this issue most seriously and to offer individuals the opportunity to do their share.
  • As to cyclists inhaling harmful emissions: again, the emissions are caused by cars. People on bikes tend to avoid the main roads where feasible, mostly avoiding adverse effects on their health. As our road system presently doesn't always provide alternative routes, using (sometimes sidewalks along) the main roads is not always avoidable. In future more and more cars will be electric, and harmful effects from emissions (as well as excessive noise pollution from cars and trucks) will be significantly reduced, which is why planning for fast and convenient bike routes along the main corridors makes a lot of sense. It most definitely does NOT make sense to ban the bike. The general and overwhelming consensus is  that cycling provides numerous health benefits that far outweigh the negative health effects (lots of empirical evidence available, Mr. Shymkiw!).

With kind regards,

Jackie Chow

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
mapleridge-pittmeadows@bikehub.ca

Thanks for your help!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

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

IMPORTANT: PLEASE ATTEND AND GIVE YOUR SUPPORT!!!
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.

Monday, September 19, 2016

529 Garage: free bike registry


Have you heard about 529 Garage? It's a free bike registry that can help the RCMP recover your bike in case it gets stolen.

You can register your bike on-line at www.project529.com, or at one of several registration events that Ridge Meadows RCMP will be holding in the next few weeks.

Read more...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Meeting dates 2016/2017

Our committee 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.

Here are the dates for our meetings from Sept. 2016 until August 2017:

2016:
September 8
October 13
November 10
No regular meeting in December

2017:
January 12
February 9
March 9
April 13
May 11
June 8
July 13 CANCELED
August 10

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Art Studio Bike Tour, May 8, 2016


Updated April 28:

On Mother's Day, Sunday May 8, we'll do another tour by bike of art studios in Maple Ridge during the annual Art Studio Tour. The Art Studio Tour is on the whole weekend. For details, see the Art Studio Tour website.

It's a lot of fun doing a tour by bike, as it adds an element of adventure, and it's cool doing it with a group of like-minded people, but if you wish you can do it on your own as well. We can send you a map on request and you can print it out yourself.

We're offering a flat route, quite similar to the one we did last year, and a hillier route, with studios that we haven't visited before. The hillier route is a great option for those who wish to get some additional health benefits from pedaling up some hills. I hope to do the hilly one myself this year. Who wants to join me??

We will be riding in groups of  9 people or less.

We need to be prepared volunteer-wise, as each group needs at least one, but preferably two volunteers to guide the group. That's why we ask people to register ahead of time, so we know how many volunteers we're going to need. We may have to cap the number of participants if we can't get enough volunteers. We can possibly also hand out maps at the start of the ride, so those who wish to do so, can do the tour on their own.

Start time for each route is 10 am. Please arrive 10 minutes early to sign a waiver.

We'll probably finish some time between 3 and 4 pm, so bring enough water and some lunch. Several studios will be offering snacks and drinks.

The flat route will start from the Bandstand at Memorial Peace Park. The hillier one will start from Starbucks at 240th Street and Dewdney Trunk Road. If you're planning to do either route by yourself, you can of course start anywhere you like along the route. Another good place to start route #2 from would be Kanaka Creek Coffee on 102nd Ave.

Contact Barry (nobell@telus.net) to register. Please specify which ride you would like to do.

If you would like to go at your own pace, please contact Jackie (jchow23708@yahoo.ca) to obtain a map with artist list.

Please note that HUB volunteers do not assume any responsibility for the safety of participants. If you decide to participate with any of our rides, you do so entirely at your own risk. Please obey traffic rules and regulations during the ride.

For these rides, we do not encourage participation of kids under 16 years of age on their own bikes. We're ok with kids in trailers (flat route only!), but again, parents are entirely responsible for the safety of their own children.


You can find the maps below.


Route #1 (flat, about 12 kms):
The artists on route #1:

#11: Kat Wahamaa - Port Haney Artist in Residence - shinyb.ca
11630 - 224 Street, Maple Ridge

#7: Kerry McLaren - Red Dog Studio - kclay.ca
Donnae Bell - donnae.ca
21536 River Road, Maple Ridge

#8: Diane Wooldridge - The Mud Room / Creations By Sisters
21652 121 Ave., Maple Ridge

#9: Kristin Krimmel - kristinkrimmel.com
12343 - 216 St., Maple Ridge

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

#14: Rebecca Fisher - Maple Ridge Artist in Residence - divasniche.ca
12178-227 Street


And this is route #2, the hilly one (about 16 kms):


List of artists for route #2:

#19:  Alexandra Lanzarotta - LXandraJewellery
11019 - 237 Street, Maple Ridge

#23: Brigitta Schneitter - Brigitta's pottery
Andres Schneiter - Maple Art
Bill Hartley - Brickyard Productions
Mike Stewart - Mike Stewart
24705 - 108 Ave.

#22: Fiona McQuillan - Westcoast Elements
facebook: Metal Mantra Jewelry
24985 - 112 Ave.

#21: Mark Tigges - pottery
11614-246 Street

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



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