Multi-use trails

October 19, 2010

Cyclists getting around Pender will inevitably have to deal with our narrow roads and steep hills. While tolerable for some, on road cycling isn’t for everybody (traveling with children can be a particularly nervy affair ! 😉 and the availability of off road multi-use trails (such as the Lochside/Galloping Goose network on Vancouver Island) would make it much easier to replace car trips with healthy, enviro friendly bike trips. Bike trails can provide short cuts or simply quieter/safer routes for those unable/unwilling to tackle the roads.

At this point, there are no multi-use (pedestrian/bike/stroller) friendly trails on Pender. Bikes are explicitly not permitted on any of the existing PIPRC trails, nor within the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. As with everything in life, having bikes on trails has its pros and cons … as noted above, an off road trail greatly increases the range of the public able to use bike for transportation but using a bike on trails not built for them can adversely impact the environment through accelerated erosion. Multi use trails typically cost more to build and take up more space, though considerably less than a full fledged road for motor vehicles. Even for those unable to ride, a trail built to handle bikes will be much easier to walk on, providing exercise opportunities for those whose physical abilities aren’t up for a steep climb over tree roots. Such trails would also be wheel chair accessible, another segment of the population to benefit.

What do you think ? What things are important to build into the trails themselves and the regulations governing their use to protect the environment ? Would you use these trails if they were available ? How much are multi use trails worth ? Overall I think the net benefit to the community and environment is huge and I welcome your comment and suggestions on how we can make such trails a reality here on Pender.

6 Responses to “Multi-use trails”

  1. GreenHearted Says:

    As a Pender cyclist (riding an e-bike isn’t cheating, is it? ;-), I can attest to how crazy it can get on our roads. Several years ago, I was pushed into a ditch by the mirror of a Cadillac – and the driver never even looked back! The fumes are another big issue for me … every time I breathe in some gross polyaromatic hydrocarbons, I curse the fact that we don’t have bike trails on Pender!

    A couple of things:
    1. I wear a bright orange reflective vest whenever I ride, and I swear it’s almost as good as those little orange flags. Drivers see me earlier and take me more seriously.
    2. I always try to wave a thank you to drivers who have waited to pass. But sometimes I need both hands on my bike. A friend who waited to pass me until the crest of a hill the other day later apologized, hoping she hadn’t passed too soon or too close. She’d been flustered by the cars behind her – but she did the right thing by waiting. Yo, after all, we’re on Pender time!
    3. I would definitely use bike trails on Pender if (a) they didn’t take me way out of my way, and (b) they were good to my bike.

    I doubt that we’ll ever get the likes of the Lochside here on Pender, but a bike trail where I feel safe would be a real gift.

  2. Mary Reher Says:

    Many thanks to MAP for considering bike trails. A dream I have had for many years is that there could be a bike trail somewhere o Pender. My preference would be that it was as elevation-graded as possible, and that it had a utilitarian purpose as well as fun – like an alternate way to the Driftwood or ferry or wherever. I think the steeper inclines/trails should be left bike-free, as bikes can cause a lot of damage.
    The other day, I arrived intact at the cemetary for a funeral, after bicycling there. It’s sort of how I feel when I venture out on the main roads – between the hills, the cars and the fumes, it’s a challenge of great proportions, and I feel like I have survived an epic journey when I get home.

    • niallp Says:

      I think everyone agrees that bikes don’t belong on all trails (or even most of them). While there are 60+ trails designated exclusively for walking there would be only a handful of multi-use trails. Any trail designated multi-use will be built to some standard that is recognized to be safe for both the users and the environment.

  3. Goshawk Says:

    I’ve had a couple of too close for comfort encounters with trucks\cars while getting about Pender on my bicycle. And I have also experienced on many occasions the noxious fumes that some of the older vehicles are pumping out.

    The Multi-use trail is an excellent idea.

    Anything we can do to encourage more people to use a bicycle instead of their car has got to be good for the entire island. It’s better for the environment and our health. Less traffic, fumes, noise and healthier people that are more in-touch with their surroundings. Safer biking, especially for families.

    Lets hope that this happens! Keep up the good work guys! :o)

  4. GreenHearted Says:

    I’m back. You asked “How much are multi-use trails worth?” The deeper and deeper we get into the climate change emergency — with still no sign that we’re turning things around and heading to a zero-carbon economy — the more bicycle trails are worth, morally, socially, financially. I think they are soon going to be considered a vital public spending investment, even if we have to “borrow” to build them. That’s a debt our children and grandchildren will be pleased to have to pay back. (Versus, for example, the debt we’ve run up around the world by giving fossil fuel corporations $3 trillion per year in direct and indirect subsidies.)

  5. I think multi-use trails are essential to bring more bikers, hikers and just plain visitors to Pender. Bikers on our roads are in real danger and present a hazard to motorists. Having a multi-use trail would be safer for everyone. Kathy Resvick

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