Month-long initiative aims to increase cycling in Coquitlam

This summer’s “Bike to Shop” event comes as Coquitlam puts the finishing touches on the Guildford Greenway
The concrete barrier and poles at the new Guildford Greenway. photos Josh Kozelj

For as long as Colin Fowler can remember, cycling has been viewed as a recreational activity. 

In many North American cities, he said, bikes are not thought of as a serious way of getting around town. In the Tri-Cities, with numerous trails running along the Fraser and Coquitlam rivers, bikes are often used to enjoy nature — not to grab groceries.

An initiative that launched earlier this month, Bike to Shop, is aiming to change that perception. 


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“Bike to Shop week is reimagining the use of the bicycle,” said Fowler, co-chair of HUB Cycling Tri-Cities. 

“There’s errands you can run, appointments you can attend through the bicycle. Bike to Shop is trying to break free from that stereotypical recreational use [for bikes] and into the practical use to get around the city.” 

Local businesses have also partnered with HUB Cycling to offer incentives — including food, clothing, or helmets — to people who bike to their storefront. 

Four businesses in Coquitlam’s Austin Heights neighbourhood have joined Bike to Shop to promote bike use in the south side of the city. 

This summer also marks the third straight year that stores in Austin Heights have tried to encourage cycling in Coquitlam. 

Fowler credited the Austin Heights Business Improvement Association for their support of Bike to Shop.

“Their whole thing is just encouraging people to explore the area, and see the sights by two wheels rather than four,” he said.

Cycling in the Tri-Cities

One of the major factors that discourages people from biking in North America is the risk of colliding with a motor vehicle, according to a 2018 report from the National Library of Medicine. 

Coquitlam has over 115 kilometres of bike routes within the city, and is in the final stages of completing a protected bike lane on Guildford Way. 

Fowler is excited at the progress made on the Guildford Greenway — especially as Coquitlam is promoting bicycling transportation this month through Bike to Shop. 

The greenway, he said, is notorious for speeding and now has a physical barrier and posts that separate the bike lane from cars. 

“A line of paint is not reassuring when RCMP are regularly catching people going 80 or 90 kilometres an hour on that stretch,” he said. 

However, the Guildford Greenway is not beloved by all local cyclists. 

A Coquitlam bike commuter wrote a letter to the Tri-City News last month, arguing the new pathway would make it more dangerous for bikes. 

The cyclists wrote that the new bike path made car lanes narrower, and the poles that separate the lane may make it harder for motorists to see cyclists. The path now makes it harder for cyclists to pass other riders, and cyclists ride directly through bus stops — which may heighten the risk for pedestrians, according to the letter writer.

The new greenway cuts through a bus stop, to the dismay of one local rider.

Fowler said the separate path and barriers will make riders feel safer on the roads, and may encourage families to commute via bike, as the path runs beside Scott Creek Middle School and Eagle Ridge pool. 

“We’re enabling people to travel safely with higher reassurance, quite frankly, that they’re not going to get killed by taking a bicycle out of their front door,” Fowler said. 

Fowler said he’s hopeful the protected bike lane will be extended to Port Moody. 

Currently, the greenway runs from Johnson Street to the Port Moody border near Falcon Drive. The City of Coquitlam estimates that construction to connect the path from Johnson Street to Pinetree Way will begin next year

Port Moody is currently studying the possibility of extending the Guildford Greenway to Murray Street, Fowler said. But no plans are imminent. 

“In a few years, our hope is that you’ll be able to cycle from Rocky Point to Lafarge Lake, protected, so you can bring the kids along,” he said.

Fowler added that Port Moody has allocated funding to look at creating a protected bike lane along Clark Street to the Barnet Highway. 

Ultimately, he said, having a bike path from Port Moody to Coquitlam will be a major step forward to get more bikes on the road.

“Having that crosstown greenway from the west end of Port Moody to the east end of Coquitlam is going to be vital to getting people out of their cars,” Fowler said.


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