When Suzanne Grieve went to visit her daughter in Utrecht, the Netherlands, earlier this year, one thing that jumped out at her was the cycling infrastructure there.
“The first thing that impressed me is rush hour was quiet because there was a visible population riding their bikes,” she said.
In Revelstoke, Grieve is the co-ordinator of Bike to Work Week, an initiative started in Victoria to get people to commute to work by bicycle. In Revelstoke, it has grown every year.
In the Netherlands, she was impressed with just how much cycling is a way of life. There are designated bike lanes everywhere. There are separate traffic lights for cyclists. There are massive, multi-story bike racks outside train stations. In central areas, there are underground parking lots for bicycles so people aren’t locking up their bikes on sidewalks meant for pedestrians.
In Revelstoke, the biking infrastructure is much more limited. Part of it is simple demographics and geography – Revelstoke, with its small population, low-density and quiet streets, doesn’t need bike lanes like the Netherlands does. What does exist in Revelstoke is minimal. There are no dedicated bike lanes, aside from one short one up the hill towards Arrow Heights. There are bike racks scattered on sidewalks throughout downtown.
The Revelstoke Credit Union has a large bike rack in the alleyway behind its building on Second Street West. The Alpine Village Mall, where Cooper’s Grocery is, turns over one of its parking spaces to bike racks in the summer. Pharmasave has done likewise.
“I’m very impressed when I see the businesses that are starting to support that mode of transportation and designate areas to that,” said Grieve. “They’re visible, they’re not hiding them towards the back.”
Another business that has invested in bike infrastructure is the Big Eddy Pub, which has installed a water hose, air hose, repair stand and bike racks behind the pub. No doubt they are going after riders on their way back from Mt. Macpherson, but also people biking to the pub instead of driving.
A massive bike rack outside the train station in Utrecht, the Netherlands.
The one thing missing in Revelstoke is a bike lane. Last summer, the city painted sharrows on Third Street and Douglas Street, indicating the lanes are shared between bicycles and cars.
Still, a plan for a dedicated bike lane on Fourth Street East from Townley Street to the Illecillewaet Bridge remains in the planning stages after what seems like years of work. Last July, council gave conditional approval towards a plan that would see parking removed on one side of Fourth Street East, however in December, after a report from staff came back, council voted once again to delay implemention.
Now staff is waiting of the Master Transportation Plan to be completed, and for a signage report from ICBC.
“We want to make sure we get it right and give council the best information we can. I think the more information we give them, that’s positive,” said Darren Komonoski, the manager of public works. “And also the correct information – that will bode well for the project.”
For Grieve, it’s a matter of making people aware of the shared roadways. Cyclists should stay off sidewalks, which are for pedestrians, and drivers and cyclists need to recognize that roads are shared.
“Whether we need blocked lanes, I don’t know that,” she said. “I think a lot of that is just being sensitive to the community and sharing it.”
What’s happening for Bike to Work Week?
Bike to Work Week is back in Revelstoke from May 27 to June 2. It is being run in much the same way as previous years. Workplaces are asked to sign up as a team, and team leaders are expected to encourage their co-workers to get involved.
“The focus this week is to challenge your perceived reasons for not riding. If it’s raining and you think you can’t ride in the rain – try it and we’ll reward you,” said Grieve.
There will be celebration stations at Grizzly Plaza and at Queen Victoria Hospital on May 27 from 6:30–9 a.m.
At the end of the week, there will be a draw for prizes.
For more information, or to register your team, visit www.biketowork.ca/revelstoke.