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The Arbutus Greenway is a new transit corridor that has been enabled by the City of Vancouver buying lands associated with an old CP rail line. Although detailed planning is to extend over several years, with lots of public consultation, the city put in a paved 9 km multi-use trail as a preliminary “demonstration”.

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The trail runs from about 5th and Fir all the way south to almost the north end of the Arthur Liang bridge to Richmond. My understanding is that it went in fairly recently.

Here is the north end of the trail.

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This is the first time I’ve seen one of the bike share stations. The rates seem to be similar to Toronto’s.

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One quirk of this local system is that there is a helmet law, and so each bike has a helmet attached to it.

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The overall configuration of the trail is pedestrians on one side, and a bi direction bike path on the other.

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It might have been just the fact that it was Canada Day weekend, but there were tons of people on the trail. What was particularly striking was the large number of families with kids.

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I found it amusing that there was this billboard along the trail.

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After a relatively short east-west section, the path turns south.

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Some of the road crossings are not finished. This is the non crossing at Broadway, where people were walking their bikes along the sidewalk to the intersection nearby.

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Smaller intersections have the cross traffic controlled by stop signs. You can also see concrete curbs that slow traffic on the path.

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This railway crossing sign was cute, but it looked like a recent addition.

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There were also a few bits of public art along the trail. Here are a few sections of rail beside this bench.

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The placement of the concrete curbs was a bit inconsistent. Here, the curbs are blocking the bike portion of the trail.

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At this intersection, the bikes and pedestrians are explicitly directed to an adjacent crosswalk at the intersection.

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Old power line poles remain along the pathway.

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A rainbow of painted rocks.

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Existing pedestrian trails that cross the corridor are clearly marked.

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Here just south of Kerrisdale, there is more space at this intersection so that foot and bike traffic are separated for the crossing.

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On this section of the trail, there were a lot of community gardens. This one had a shed and several scarecrows.

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There was only one remaining crossing that looked like it was still being built.

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Here is the south end of the trail.  You can see the old rails continuing further. I had a nice chat with the fellow in the yellow shirt. He said that the right of way will eventually also include a street car line, and that there is still much planning to be done before the plan is finalized. In the meantime, Vancouverites can enjoy this great path.

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Coming back north, I note the marked turn off to connect to the Canada Line bridge that has a bike path on it.

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I do realize that the West Toronto Railpath is a more complicated project, but it seems like it is going to take forever to complete, in comparison to what Vancouver has managed to do in less than a year.

 

Update: posted to the HUB cycling FB page:

“Arbutus Greenway Temporary Path Construction June Update We’re building a temporary path that everyone can enjoy while the future Arbutus Greenway is being planned and designed. In June we finished paint line markings and stencils to help visitors share the greenway. We also added project signage, so that visitors know how to get involved. Next month we are making finishing touches to the intersection at West 41st Avenue, adding safety improvements at local intersections along the greenway, and adding signage to either end of the temporary path to help visitors get to the Seawall/Granville Island and the Canada Line Bridge.”

 

 

 

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Today was the late Tooker Gomberg’s birthday. Appropriately enough, it was also the day that the Bloor bike lane pilot was officially opened. I posted some pictures over on the Bells on Bloor website, so I won’t repost them here.

However, I will note that this picture (by Martin Reis) showed up in the CBC news coverage of the opening.

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The other piece of good news was the official announcement that the West Toronto Railpath will be extended south past Queen and Dufferin which could be a game changer for the west end.

Finally, just a link to an article showing that not all aspects of bike infrastructure in Vancouver are ideal.

 

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With the growing popularity of cargobikes, I expected that there would be several cargobike dealers to visit while here in Vancouver. I had visited one dealer several years ago when I checked out an early Yuba Mundo, but they had gone under after about a year. A cursory Google search turned up several other dealers that were also out of business. There was one dealer selling Bullitts that I didn’t want to contact as it looked like they were selling by special order out of their home. A little more digging yielded a few options.

One was the Bike Doctor, on Broadway across from the MEC mothership. I’ve visited them before when I was looking for raincapes.

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Here you can see a Wike box bike and a Yuba Boda Boda out front.

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Inside, you can see that they also carry the Babboe box bike.

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They also have a good selection of family biking things.

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In my brief visits with them, I’ve found them friendly, and their service and parts department was very helpful.

Another interesting shop was the Tandem Bike Cafe, at 16th and Heather. It is a coffee shop that also does bike repair. When I rode by, I had to stop since there was both a CETMA and a Metrofiets bike out front. I had not seen either in the flesh before. I was told that they could special order either of them.

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Here you see the flanges that allow the CETMA frame to be broken down for shipping.

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Some very clean TIG welding on the Metrofiets, and it also looks like the rear dropout is splittable for the installation of a belt drive.

Last but not least, a local contact pointed me towards Grin Technologies, so I went down there to check them out today.

On my way, I meet this fellow doing a technical check on one of the new bikes for the bikeshare system on the Hornby bike lane.

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I asked about the helmet law, and he showed me a cable integrated into the handlebar that could be used to secure a helmet, but since he was from the bike vendor, he didn’t know about the details of any helmet sharing system.

The Google map directions to Grin were a bit unclear as their postal address is on Powell St, but their actual access is off a parking lot accessed from E Cordova St.

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Once inside, an overwhelming number of things to look at.

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A wide selection of unicycles.

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Their main business is selling kits and components for e-bike conversions. They do, however, sell this one type of ready to ride electrically assisted cargobike, the eZee Expedir.

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More interesting to me was the row of bikes behind the two Expedirs.

Firstly, an e-assist Brompton.

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Beside it was an Xtracycle Edgerunner in the process of being built up, and then a Yuba Mundo with a complete middrive that was somewhat reminiscent of the Stokemonkey.

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However, Ben told me that their system was built in house and was considerably more refined. For one thing, this set up drives the chain, and a special crankset allows the rider to freewheel, whereas the Stokemonkey drives the crankset directly, requiring the rider to always be pedalling. There is also a clever arrangement that senses pedalling effort so that the controller can provide a proportional amount of assist.

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One of their visions is to have this system made as universal as possible so that it can be installed on a wide variety of longtail cargobikes.

Here is the staff parking; quite the interesting collection of bikes.

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Of course I immediately focused on the Haul a Day in the same orange colour as my own.

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It had a hub motor drive installed, but they were planning to install a middrive. The owner told me that hers was a prototype HaD, and so it didn’t have a diagonal frame brace that later models had, like mine. Compare the above picture to mine:

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Next to it was a longtail based on the Xtracycle Leap extension.

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I was told that one of the hazards of working there was that when you showed up with a new bike, there was the possibility that it would be turned over to prototype a new configuration of electric drive. There were a few non-assisted bikes in the rack. I was amused to hear them referred to as “acoustic bikes”.

In the back was a vintage Xtracycle FreeRadical with an original Stokemonkey drive.

I could have easily spent another hour looking at all the things on display, but regrettably I had to move on. Thanks to Ben for showing me around.

I applaud their efforts in promoting electric assist with made in Canada solutions. After a week of biking around Vancouver, I can see the need for e-assist to make cargobikes more generally appealing.

A little further on, I had to stop by Bomber Brewing, since I had ridden by it three times during a previous training ride.

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I tasted a couple of beers, but left with just a six pack of their Park Life Passion Fruit Ale that I had just yesterday at a restaurant. It tasted like a Radler, but I was told that it only had 7% of Passion Fruit Puree that was fermented with the rest of the beef. A nice, light summertime drink. Regrettably, they were out of their Bike Route Best Bitter, named for the fact that they were situated at the intersection of two bike routes.

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That’ll wrap up my reporting from Vancouver this year. We’ll see what shape I’m in when I reach Portland.

Update: here is an article from ModaCity about the cargobike scene in Vancouver. It is optimistic, but it also mentions the lack of dealerships. Note the picture of the Bullitt cargobike with a beer keg from Bomber Brewing.

Update #2: Spokesmama has a much more extensive list of cargobike dealers in Vancouver.

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I’ve been doing a bit of training this week in Vancouver, during the final lead up to STP, and as usual I’ve seen many interesting things. Here are just a few of them:

I like this Sharpie edit of this bike button. I’ve seen it more than one place around town.

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At UBC you can practice putting bikes on bus racks.

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One of my first rides was back and forth to the north shore. Here is the multiuse path approaching the Lion’s Gate bridge.

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My first time across the Lion’s Gate bridge. It gave me the heebie jeebies, whereas both the Burrard and the 2nd Narrows bridges did not. I think it is because it is easy to see through the fence to the side while riding.

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I wimped out and did not climb any further up than just past HWY 1, along Skilift Rd.


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I can see the UBC campus, where my ride started.

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Going back south across the Burrard St. bridge, you can see that due to construction, lanes have been blocked off. Note that there is more road width devoted to just pedestrians and southbound cyclists than the single lane for car traffic in this direction. Safe to say that this would never happen in TO.

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Another ride took my around town and then back to Granville Market. Here I am working my way around False Creek.

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Sign vandalism.

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Preparation for the bike share system in Vancouver.

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I have never heard of a Fiori kidback tandem. From this website, it seems very reasonably priced.

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I can’t identify this nice bike, but from the seatstay, it looks like a DeKerf?

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A Karate Monkey based e-bike.

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Note that with the extensive bike route network here, it is easy to plot out a reasonably flat 38 km loop that is totally on signed, marked bike routes. Only a portion is on segregated bike lanes, but most of the route is on lightly travelled roads that have been traffic calmed.

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Here, I’m being rewarded with a stroopwafel after my first lap.

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I like this decoration at the intersection of the Ridgeway bikeway and Main St.

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Here at the end of my last longish training ride, which was three laps of the 38 km loop.

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Here are the things that I’m been riding with in my seat bag.IMG_3454

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  • A) spare tube
  • B) zip ties and tools including allen wrenches, presta adapter, multitool, patch kit, tire levers, scissors/plier tool, and 3Wrencho.
  • C) a regular seat bag to carry all the tools.
  • D) a light cable lock
  • E) Brooks seat cover*
  • F) rain cape*
  • G) vest

*if I carry these, it won’t rain, will it?

All this fits with room to spare. Less than four days to go….

 

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This has been a good year for biking, despite the fact that it didn’t get rolling until mid March, when I got the all clear to start riding again from my surgeon.  Here are my mileage totals:

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and here are some month by month highlights:

March: Back on the bike

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April: Adding a Bike Friday Haul a Day to the fleet.

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May:

ASME HPVC racing in Florida

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note that Sherry’s feet are not on the pedals in the above picture.

Bike to Work Day

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Books on Bloor

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June: a brutal month with three memorial rides in quick succession.

Memorial rides for Roger du Toit, Peter Kang, and Adam Excell

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A die in at City Hall

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July: a lot of road trips

Kingston

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Hamilton

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The left coast: Seattle G&O Cyclery

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Fairfield Cyclery (Victoria)

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August:

Calgary

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A tour of Ward 13 with Jacquelyn and Sarah, highlighting some bike infrastructure needs in Ward 13. Some improvements are slated for 2016.

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September:

Todd Reichert is the fastest man on earth.

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and many other world records set at WHPSC 2015.

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Also, I didn’t crash, going down Route 305

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(photo Bas de Meijer).

October: the Growling Beaver

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November: Memorial Ride for Hardeep Singh Pahra

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December:

A freakishly warm month.

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I’m closing out this year in Vancouver, where it has been clear and cold, but very pleasant riding weather.

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(photo: M. Nogami)

Their city council recently approved a significant expansion of their bike lane network, including bike lanes to be installed on the Granville bridge, and an upgrade to the lanes on the Cambie bridge, to join the very successful Burrard bridge bike lanes. Meanwhile in Toronto, it will be a closely watched issue to see if a proposed year long pilot for bike lanes along a 2.4 km stretch of Bloor St. will come to pass in 2016. Even as Vancouver pulls further and further ahead, at least the movement on bike infrastructure in Toronto is in the positive direction, with the extension of the Richmond / Adelaide bike lane pilot this year, the opening of Queen’s Quay, an announcement of priority snow clearance for selected downtown bike lanes, and steady progress on the eventual extension of the West Toronto Railpath.

Wishing everyone tailwinds and safe riding for 2016!

 

 

 

 

 

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For several years now, the Burrard St. bridge has had dedicated, separated bike lanes, and this has greatly increased bike traffic. In the present configuration, northbound bikes take the sidewalk which is banned to pedestrians.
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In the southbound direction, one car traffic lane was given over to bikes. This bike lane is wide enough to make passing easy.
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On July 22, Vancouver City Council approved a series of further upgrades, in particular removing one lane available to cars in the northbound direction to create a bike lane, and thus restore access on this side of the bridge to pedestrians. Other upgrades include anti suicide barriers, and improvements to the intersection of Pacific and Burrard to improve safety for both pedestrians and cyclists. Construction is expected to take 18 months.

Two other nice features on the bridge. One is this public piano with a killer view of English Bay.
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The other is this bike counter, which is a public display of the number of bike crossings.
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Today I was #3140 for the day, but a few more had crossed by the time I got my camera out.
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It would be nice to have such counters in a few strategic places in Toronto. I know that the city does tally some statistics, but this is a public affirmation of the popularity of bike transport.

Here are some nice upgraded sharrows on York St.
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Now that’s a bike signal.
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I always enjoy the experience of biking in Vancouver.

Update: the Burrard Bridge logged one million bike crossings this year.

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Last year, I scoped out the existing conditions where a new bikeway was due to be installed along Point Grey Rd and Cornwall Ave in Vancouver. The decision to put this is in was not without controversy, and post-installation, the arguments for and against are still continuing, with the main municipal opposition party promising to take the greenway out if they win a majority on the next city council.

With the greenway being somewhat less than two weeks old, it was a good opportunity to check it out. These photos were taken while travelling in the eastbound direction, whereas last year’s post was in the opposite sequence.

Here is a sign on 4th at Alma that has been tagged with an indication of one sentiment about the road closure.
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This is the west end of the new section, on Pt. Grey road and Alma, facing east.almaeast

Turning 180 degrees on this spot, you see an new bidirectional bike lane headed west towards Jericho Beach.almawest

You can compare this view with the photo below that I took last year.
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The westward bike lane continues until it ends at the parking lot for Jericho Beach, and the connection to the Seaside Trail.
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The seaside trail is a mixed use gravel trail that goes all the way to Spanish Banks, and ends at the hill on NW Marine Dr that leads up to the UBC Campus.
seaside For you Michiganders out there, think really good chip seal with a great view of the beach and mountains.

Going back to Alma and heading east, here is the first of several islands that indicate the direction of flow of traffic. I didn’t keep track of which way you were supposed to drive along Pt. Grey, but it seemed to me that the direction reversed at least once, and that local residents were still able to drive in both directions in some sections. There were certainly places where there were cars parked pointed in both directions.pg1

Sharrows in this narrow section.
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Again, compare to last year.
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This year.
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Last year.
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Just short of MacDonald, we start seeing a major change to a protected bidirectional lane.
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Here is the intersection with MacDonald, looking back west.
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Compare this with last year.
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Or this Google Map view that hasn’t been updated.
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At Stephens St, the intersection is beautifully finished.
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Looking north.stephen2

View from across Pt. Grey, with cyclist push button.
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As I approach the intersection with Trafalgar, you can see that the concrete median has lowered sections to accommodate the driveways of the houses on the north side.
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From this map, you can see that cyclists are expected to turn left, rather than to continue on straight on Cormwall Ave.
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Compare to this Google Map View.
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This short section of residential Pt. Grey is very quiet.
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At Kits Beach, bikes are routed onto what used to be a sidewalk on the north side of Cornwall Ave.
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This is rather unfortunate as there are many opportunities for pedestrian/bike conflict, especially with the heavy foot traffic to the pool and the beach.
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Just past this section, we are routed through a parking lot!
cw6 Perhaps the sections along Cornwall were the hardest to resolve to the satisfaction of all parties, but I don’t think that the current solutions are optimal.

More experienced cyclists will simply choose to use Cornwall Ave as they have in the past.
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On balance, the Greenway does do what it was intended. In conjunction with the extensive revisions at the south end of the Burrard St. bridge, there is now a safe, mostly protected bike route all the way from downtown to Kits and the beaches further west. It certainly seems to be attracting more families and tourists on bikes out this way.
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It also certainly benefits the very fortunate residents of Pt. Grey Rd since it must be much easier for them to back their cars out from their driveways with the absence of traffic. I expect that those like Nelson Skalbania, David Suzuki and Chip Wilson will see their property values shoot up even further.

One hopes that there will be similar benefits from the West Toronto Railpath Extension, although the feel of that project is considerably grittier.

Update: someone made a very pretty video of the bikeway

Update2: a followup article from the Globe and Mail.

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