The 2017 edition of the Hope Official Visitors Guide refers to our town as being a “Rider’s Paradise”. As an avid cyclist, I find this claim to be overstated. We have the potential to be a “Rider’s Paradise”, but are far from that goal on three fronts.
First is the condition of not only our trails but our surface streets. Many of our trails such as the one along River Parade terminating at Kawkawa Lake Road as well as the Kettle Valley Trail are blocked at their entrance by barriers to deter entry by motorised vehicles. While this is a good thing, the manner of blocking is not bike-rider friendly as it requires a dismount and lifting of one’s bike over the boulders and posts placed as a part of the block. Our surface streets are in such poor shape with minefield-like rough surfaces, potholes, and patching that even a ride along the marked family-friendly trail is a bum-bruising experience. The area of Raab, Nelson and Fourth is particularly bad due to rough surfaces along with the abominable congestion and parking situation around McDonald’s, as is much of Yale Street between Stuart and Seventh, and Park Street between Third and Fourth.
Second is the lack of common courtesy on the part of drivers. Last year I witnessed the aftermath of three incidents where cyclists where either knocked down or forced off the road into the curb by motorists. In each case an ambulance was required. When cycling along Old Hope-Princeton Highway or along Water Avenue I have seen times when motorists fail to move over to give wide berth to cyclists along the shoulder and come dangerously close to hitting the cyclist with side mirrors. The situation along Wallace is equally fraught with danger with parked vehicles pulling out into the street. There are also cases where people park right in the middle of unpaved lanes blocking passage even to other cars and trucks.
Finally we have our cycling community. Sadly we are partially to blame for any bad attitude drivers may have toward us. I have seen cyclists that fail to use hand signals when approaching intersections to make turns. There have been many cases of cyclists on the wrong side of the road riding into as opposed to with traffic, or on sidewalks. Many younger riders zoom right through stop signs with even pausing to check for traffic. These things will not endear us to motorists or pedestrians. While the aforementioned items present grave danger in and of themselves, I cringe when I see a bike rider without a helmet or lights and reflective markings when riding at dusk or dawn. A further mention should be made that one must never ride when intoxicated or otherwise impaired.
There are a several things that can be done to make Hope a “Rider’s Paradise”. First is getting our trails and streets in friendly condition. This benefits riders and, in the case of the roads, drivers as well. Second would be the painted marking of bike lanes with bike symbols and signage so that motorists are aware that cyclists are out there and caution and courtesy should be exercised. Finally the Rec Centre should offer a comprehensive course in rider safety as well as bike inspection clinics. I’d also recommend that the district fund this through voluntary bike registration, via a nominal fee. The benefits here are that we can ensure that what we are riding is safe, and that if a bike is stolen it can be traced.
I enjoy my rides, and do as much as 2,400 km a year around town. I find Hope to be a great place to ride, but know that we can do better.
Anthony G. Pavick