I decided to take my new bike3 for a spin last night. But where to go? I decided to check out Google Maps, which has a feature that indicates where there are bike lanes (in green). For example, check out this section of Surrey:
Immediately this raises the question:
How is anyone who lives in that big gap along 152nd Street supposed to get from 72nd Ave, where the 152 St bike lane ends to 64th Ave, where the next east-west bike line is? 152nd Street is a *very* busy street, not one you’d want to ride down without a bike lane.
I actually looked on the City of Surrey’s website to see what I could find about bike lanes and found that they have a Cycling Plan that aims “to create a seamless bicycle network.” I have to say that this is clearly in the “planning” stage, as the bike lanes appear to be pretty haphazard this point. Take this for another example:
Anyway, I decided to take some convoluted side streets to get to 64th Ave to try out the bike lane there. I wanted to see what it was like given that it is a potential way that I might want to bike to work. Well, 64th Avenue does have a bike lane, but I felt anything but safe while biking it in. It’s a very busy street and has an *extremely* narrow bike lane. The lane is, in fact, barely wider than a manhole cover. I can say this confidentially because there are manhole covers in the bike lane – not really something you want to have to bike over, let me tell you! And you can’t avoid them, because they take up virtually the whole bike lane – it’s that narrow. And the car lanes seem like they are pretty narrow too, as many of the vehicles that drove by me were very close to – or even driving right on – the line between the car lane and the bike lane. Having an 18-wheeler truck whip down the street about 6 inches from your person does not make for a relaxing ride! To make things even worse, the bike line was full of rocks and various other debris, which made it a bit like an obstacle course. A very narrow obstacle course where, if you hit any of the obstacles, you will fall into traffic and be run over by an 18-wheeler truck doing 80 km/hr.
I was planning to ride to King George Boulevard (of Broken Dreams) and then try out its bike lane, but given that K.G.B.(of B.D.) is even busier than 64th Avenue, I decided that I’d stared death in the face enough for one day and just turned around and biked back down 64th Ave to go home4.
Along the way, I met another bicyclist, and when we were stopped at a red light, I asked her if she commuted on this street regularly (She had on a backpack and look like a commuter). “This is my first time ever!” she said. “Oh,” I said, ” I was going to ask you if if it gets less terrifying once you get used to it.” She had a bit of a panicked look in her eye as she said, “Yeah, it’s pretty scary, eh?” I have a very strong suspicion that this first time might just be her last.
Given how scary 64th Avenue was, I really can’t imagine what would possess anyone to try the 56th Avenue (a.k.a. Highway 10) bike lane:
And while I’m ranting, what’s the deal with all the kids not wearing bike helmets in my neighbourhood? Both yesterday and the day before when I went for my bike rides, there were *tonnes* of kids out riding around on their bikes – and I’m very much in favour of kids being active! – but not a single one of them was wearing a bike helmet! Bike helmets protect your *brains* people. Your brains! Also, if the zombie apocalypse happens while you are on your bike, it’s an added layer for protection from a hungry zombie. Thus, bike helmets are win-win.
- In my defence, I only reside in Surrey because I have the BEST. JOB. EVER. here. My plan is to stay here, with my affordable rent, until such time as my student loans are paid off, at which point I’ll have *a lot* more money to rent a place and then I’ll move back to Vancouver. You can call this my “exit strategy.” [↩]
- Coincidentally, I was meeting with a colleague at her office the other day and she had a giant sign on her office door that said, “Surrey needs more bike lanes NOW!” (Apparently it had been part of some guerilla Public Health advocacy at a recent meeting she’d been at. I told her I completely agreed – and now that I’ve tried out the bike lanes, I have to say I agree doubly so! [↩]
- I’m sure I’ll stop blogging about my new bike soon, if you’ll just bear with me. I have the attention span of a carrot, so I’m sure something else shiny will capture my imagine soon enough [↩]
- Otherwise, I might have to start calling it King George Boulevard of Broken Bones [↩]