Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Yet Another Thing I Hate About Surrey

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of Surrey. I hate suburbs and Surrey exemplifies pretty much everything I hate about suburbs1. Case in point: Surrey is NOT bike friendly2.

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:

Surrey bike Routes

Immediately this raises the question:

Surrey Bike Routes 2

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:

Surrey Bike Routes 3

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:

Surrey Bike Routes 4

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.

  1. 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.” []
  2. 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! []
  3. 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 []
  4. Otherwise, I might have to start calling it King George Boulevard of Broken Bones []


I Hate Being Incompetent At Things

So I managed to screw something up on my new bike after just one ride! But – DON’T PANIC! – because it was just a little screw up that was easily repaired (by someone who actually knew what they were doing).

The screw up happened when I tried to figure out how to use my new pump. After my first little ride yesterday, I decided that my front tire felt like it wasn’t inflated enough, so I tried to check out what the tire pressure was with the fancy tire pressure gauge on my new pump. But no matter what I did, I could not get the pump to give me a pressure reading. I Googled, I watched YouTube videos on tire inflation, but nothing seemed to help. Instead, through all my fiddling, I managed to *completely* deflate my tire. Gah! I hate being incompetent at things!

At this point, I admitted defeat and decided to take it in for some professional help. Google Maps informed me that there is a bike shop located very close to my office1, so I brought my tire in on my lunch break. Now, I’m totally going to give a plug to this store – Rocky Cycle – because the guys there were super friendly and helpful, fixing my tire and sorting out what was wrong with my bicycle pump, all without making me feel like I was an idiot. As it turns out, the bicycle pump has various little components inside that need to flipped around different ways depending on the type of valve you have. I *thought* I had it right, but I didn’t, and that’s why the pump wouldn’t lock onto the valve, meaning that I couldn’t get a pressure reading. In my defence, these are the “instructions” that came with my pump:

worst instructions ever

That’s it. No words, just that ridiculous drawing. Use your words, bicycle pump manufacturer, use your words!!

Anyway, my pump is now assembled correctly, my tire is inflated, and my bike rides like a dream!

  1. Given that I bought my bike in Vancouver, I didn’t really want to have to take it all the way there for a fix []


My Shiny New Bike! It’s Shiny!

I finally found a hybrid bike that fits in the trunk of my Smart car! And it’s shiny and new and fun to ride and it’s sitting in my apartment right now because I bought it on Saturday! Item #73 on my list of 101 of things to do in 1001 days, consider yourself crossed off that list!

The bike that I ended up buying is the Cannondale Quick 3. It’s a sweet little hybrid with a carbon fibre fork, two quick release wheels, and a whole lot of awesome.

My new bike (Cannondale Quick 3)

Look how pretty it is!

The best part, of course, is that I can fit it in the trunk of my Smart car!

Cannondale Quick 3 - It fits in the trunk of my Smart Car

Thankfully, I’m very short, so my bike is the “petite” model (which is what Cannondale apparently calls their “extra small” bikes.), which means its small enough to fit into my trunk. The quick release wheels take just seconds to remove and it’s really light, so it’s super-easy to get it in and out of my car.

Of course, once you buy a bike, you have to buy a few accessories to go with it! Fortunately, I happened to have a gift card to Mountain Equipment Co-op, so I went there to buy the things I needed. Things like:

Bike lock

A bike lock

Bicycle pump

A bicycle tire pump

Water bottle cage for my new bike

A water bottle holder

Coffee Thermos

A thermos that seals tight and fits into the water bottle holder, in order to bring my coffee to work on days when I bike!

I probably should get a few other things, like some lights and such, but I figure that we are still having fairly long days, it allegedly being summer1 and all, so I have some time before I need to figure that out. Because I have to say that this shopping for bikes and bike accessories has really made me feel like there are too. many. choices. The options for types of bikes2 and features on those bikes3 and what those bikes are made of, etc. – were rather overwhelming. And then I went to MEC and there were eleventy billion options for locks and pumps and really I just wanted someone to tell me what to buy! Anyway, I’m pretty happy with what I got, so it’s all good.

Last night, I took it for its inaugural ride4 – a quick trip around the block and have to say it’s lots of fun to ride:

My first bike ride

I’m looking forward to taking her out for some longer rides – perhaps a seawall trip in the near future? As well, I’m planning to ride her to work when I can – the beginning of this week doesn’t look good for that, as I have meetings I have to get to and thus will need my car. But perhaps Thursday or Friday I will be able to!

Also, I need to think of a good name for my bike5. Any suggestions?

  1. I say “allegedly” because, although the amount of daylight we get and the date on the calendar suggests it is summer, our weather is decidedly autumnal. []
  2. road, mountain, hybrid, commuter, fitness, cyclocross, etc. []
  3. Do you want disc brakes or V brakes? Internal gear hubs or derailleurs? etc. []
  4. Well, its inaugural ride as *my* bike. I did take it for a test ride before I bought it and I’m sure others test road it as well. []
  5. My car, of course, is named Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car []


I Like Bike

a bike that can only run on special roads. by vrogy.I want a new bike.

And thanks to getting a grant that will fund my job for the next six years,  I can actually afford to buy one. (An aside: I don’t usually talk about my job here on ye ole’ blog, but (a) this is just too good of news not to shout from the virtual rooftop, and (b) this is relevant to my bike purchasing desire – since I knew the grant that funded my job was ending soon and I knew that the competition was going to be very tough (despite the fact that I knew I’d written a kick ass grant application, about 2 of every 3 applications were going to be rejected), I’d been madly saving as much money as I could (hence the three jobs I’ve been working this term) in case I ended up with no job in this economic downturn/recession/depression/financial armageddon.  But now that that job is secured, I feel like I can use some of those savings for bike purchasing goodness. But I digress).

My current bike, which I haven’t ridden in I don’t know how long, is 18 years old.  It really, really needs to be retired.  And I really, really need a bike that I can actually ride.  With the weather actually becoming nice, I think that it’s high time I started to bike to work.  But the problem is: I don’t really know anything about bikes. I’ll probably head over to Dunbar Cycles and Cheapskates to see what they have, but I’m wondering if anyone has any suggestions of what I should look for in a bike that I will use primarily to bike to work and the grocery store?

Image credit: vrogy on Flickr