The new school year has just begun and many cyclists are hitting the trails before the cold weather hits. Unfortunately for them (and fortunately for the students with PE this semester), the section of the Traboulay PoCo trail connecting Pitt River Road and Argue Street has been closed, expected to re-open in two months. The closure itself, which is due to safety reasons while the Kwikwetlem First Nations prepare their reserve for the development of their new business park, is not the issue. No, the issue is the detour that has been proposed by the city of Port Coquitlam.
In a recent article by the Tri-City News, city spokesperson Ximena Ibacache advised cyclists and pedestrians to take Shaughnessy Street in order to connect with the Argue Street section of the trail. No problem right? Wrong. This particular section of Shaughnessy is in no way cyclist friendly. Those students who have been unfortunate enough to be subjected to the horrors of the notorious Colony Farms run will be familiar with this section – a narrow strip of winding, uphill road, populated by cars going anywhere from 11km/h to 100km/h in a 50km/h zone. To add to the unsuitability of the proposed detour, portions of this stretch have no sidewalk to escape to, meaning cyclists are forced to battle with fast moving traffic, and uphill. To the unsuspecting cyclist who is unfamiliar with this section of Shaughnessy, this detour could be a death trap.
The move by the city to recommend this detour is reckless. Even the most experienced cyclist will run into difficulties and, with the trail closed for two months, the detour will no doubt end in injuries and lawsuits.
The only alternative provided in the article is the bafflingly vague sentence: “head further south to Argue Street to jump back on the trail.” This may sound simple enough, however, a quick study of a map reveals that the only other way of reaching Argue Street is either a convoluted path via Colony Farms Road or to use Lougheed Highway to connect up with the Mary Hill Bypass and jump on to Argue Street from there. While there is a cycle-path for part of the way, many cyclists baulk at the idea of joining the fast moving highway traffic. This is arguably just as, or even more, dangerous than Shaughnessy.
Despite the dangers of these two proposed detours, they are the only options available for cyclists, without doing the PoCo trail in the opposite direction.
If you do have to take one of the detours, please do so carefully and only if you really have to.