A new designated cycling route through səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview makes it easier and safer for cyclists to travel from Coquitlam’s City Centre area to the recreational trails at Colony Farm Regional Park.
It’s also part of a grander plan to create a network of routes that connects all the First Nations communities from the Salish Sea to the Fraser Valley.
Leon Lebrun of Trails BC, who helped build the Trans Canada Trail in the Tri-Cities, said linking the First Nations’ ancestral pathways would give cyclists and hikers a ground-level appreciation of the importance of their relationship to the land and how the decisions they made to get around and where to settle influenced the formation of British Columbia.
For instance, the route through səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview goes along the water course of the Coquitlam River, a vital food source and transportation corridor for the Kwikwetlem First Nation.
Lebrun said the Kwikwetlem were quick to embrace the plan to erect signs guiding cyclists through the sometimes confusing network of roads that traverse səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview, as was BC Housing that administers the 244-acre property.
David Pereira, a development manager for BC Housing, said while cyclists have often cut through səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview to avoid riding along the narrow shoulders of the nearby Lougheed Highway, wayfinding was poor as was a comfortable connection to the new multi-use path that runs from the Coquitlam Central SkyTrain station to the property’s entrance at Orchid Drive.
Now, brambles and blackberry bushes have been cut back to widen an old dirt path and barriers replaced with bollards to create a smooth, gently rising route to Holly Drive where cyclists can then follow a series of green signs to get through səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview to Cape Horn Avenue and Colony Farm Road, where they can connect to the regional park.
Pereira said the new signs have even been an aid to motorists.
“The biggest improvement is people don’t get lost,” he said. “It helps everybody.”
Lebrun said formalizing the route through səmiq̓ʷəʔelə/Riverview fills a huge gap in the area’s active transportation network identified by the advocacy group, HUB Cycling.
And while many gaps still present challenges to cyclists — especially those looking to get beyond Colony Farm to the Port Mann Bridge or Maillardville — progress that will eventually allow cyclists to get all around the Tri-Cities safely and quickly is being made.
Work is about to begin on a new separated bike lane along Guildford Way in Coquitlam and Port Moody council recently approved the expenditure of up to $24,000 to begin planning for a separated lane along its portion of the busy east-west commuter route, as well as the south side of Murray Street and nearby Heritage Mountain Boulevard.
Port Coquitlam just received an $840,000 federal grant to complete a multi-use path along Prairie Avenue and the Village of Anmore will use a $500,000 BC Active Transportation grant to extend its multi-use path along Sunnyside Road.
Communities and other levels of government are finally appreciating the value of creating active transportation routes that can get people out of their cars and from Point A to Point B safely and efficiently, Lebrun said.
“If it’s there, connected and safe, the more people will use it."
That’s good news for avid cyclists like Colleen MacDonald, an Anmore resident who’s authored three books about safe, family-friendly cycling routes around the Lower Mainland, the Okanagan and Vancouver Island.
“You don’t seem to have to fight for it as much,” she said of her ability to get around on two wheels.
“Every once in a while, something good happens,” added Lebrun.
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