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New route to get around Coquitlam brings smiles

A new multi-use path along King Albert Street in Coquitlam is already seeing lots of traffic — by pedestrians and by cyclists. That's encouraging news for active transportation advocates.

Cyclists in Coquitlam say they’re already seeing a positive impact from the city’s new King Albert greenway. And it’s not even completed yet.

People on two wheels and two legs, as well as other active ways of getting around, are using the two-kilometre multi-use path that connects Blue Mountain Park in the west to Mundy Park to the east.

Mark Zaborniak, Coquitlam’s manager of design and construction, said there’s still a few more weeks of work to put the final touches on the $3.8-million route that also passes near the library, recreation and seniors complexes on Poirier Street, as well as several schools. Eventually, the plan is to connect the path to trails in Mundy Park.

“It’s amazing,” said Leon Lebrun, of Trails BC, as a steady stream of cyclists, kids heading home from school and moms pushing strollers traversed the new $1-million bridge that spans Como Creek on a recent sunny afternoon. “It appeals to people of all ability and ages.”

Construction on the path started in 2019 and includes curb extensions at intersections, new letdowns, landscaping, improved signage and pavement markings. Part of the project’s cost was covered by a $1.1-million grant from TransLink.

Colleen MacDonald, a local author about cycling trails around British Columbia as well as a member of the HUB cycling advocacy group, said greenways that offer alternative connections apart from busy traffic corridors can transform a city by making residents feel safer and more inclined to get out and about on foot or by bike.

“It’s more than just circling around,” she said. “It gives opportunities to connect communities.”

That’s the idea, said Dragana Mitic, Coquitlam’s transportation planning manager. She said a goal of the city’s strategic transportation plan is to provide safe cycling routes within 400 metres of more than 70% of residents in urban neighbourhoods. That will encourage more residents to use their bikes as a mode of transportation.

In the city’s plan for this year is a connection from the King Edward overpass to the west end of United Boulevard, while next year a connection between the multi-use path that climbs the Gatensbury hill in Port Moody to Como Lake is on the books.

But there’s still work to be done, MacDonald said.

She points to the lack of a safe, separated bike route along Guildford way, a major connector between Coquitlam’s Town Centre area and Port Moody. United Boulevard is another ongoing challenges, as well as hilly David Avenue. Painted lines along the shoulder aren’t enough, MacDonald added.

“People are afraid to ride on roads.”

Mitic said getting residents comfortable using active modes of transportation is a long game that involves continuous reviews and updates that help inform what projects should get priority.

“It really takes some vision,” Lebrun said, adding he’s so encouraged by the new route, he’s inspired to dance in celebration.