The Haney-to-Hammond family cycling route: a proposal

A cycling route from Haney to Hammond as proposed by Fraseropolis and HUB Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows, with a potential loop at the western end. The map was developed by Cindy Farnsworth

The John Hammond house, c. 1893, on the proposed route.

In 2017, the local government in Maple Ridge asked our friend Jackie Chow to develop a tourist-friendly cycling route in the urban part of the city. Jackie asked me for help, since she knew me as an oddball urban explorer and mapmaker.

We agreed to focus on flat, safe, easy cycling to accommodate kids, parents and seniors. This restricted us to a couple of choices, since much of Maple Ridge is hilly and the direct east-west routes are very busy. We settled on a route connecting two historical zones, downtown Maple Ridge (also known as Haney) and historic Port Hammond. At the western end, cyclists get a view of the Fraser River at one of the few public access points in the city.

The proposed initial route is 6.2 kilometres in length one way, or a 12.4-kilometre round trip, with an option to add a loop in future — if the local government can invest in some improvements.

I want to thank Leanne Koehn and James Rowley from the Hammond neighbours for their early encouragement, along with Kathryn Baird and Lino Siracusa from the City’s tourism and economic development offices, and Colleen Macdonald from Let’s Go Biking. The proposal has been reviewed and approved by the HUB cycling committee of Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows, but there are a few more steps required before it becomes a visible reality.

The Harry house, 1928, faces Hammond Park. With the Hammond house and others in the neighbourhood, it is listed in the 2018 Maple Ridge Heritage Inventory compiled by Donald Luxton.

To the extent that there is cycling tourism in Maple Ridge, much of it takes place on limited sections of riverside dyke that connect with more extensive dykes in neighbouring Pitt Meadows. One highlight of this network is Osprey Village in Pitt Meadows, a destination for cyclists from the Tri-Cities and Langley. Many of them stop at the Stomping Grounds café for food and drink.

The proposed route presented here creates part of an urban link between Osprey and downtown Maple Ridge.  To make the trip more attractive for day-trippers travelling through the region, we need a new and safer connection across the Katzie Slough into Hammond, and we need a cafe or two in the Hammond neighbourhood — an idea that is contemplated in the 2014 Hammond Area Plan.

In the meantime, we’ll call our new route a “family cycling route”, and hope to attract Maple Ridge residents looking for some easy cycling near their own homes.

At the western end of the initial route, a view of the Fraser River from Emmeline Mohun Park on Wharf Street, Maple Ridge. Most photos in this series were taken under smoky skies during the 2018 wildfire season

Fraseropolis Wharf Street

A small boatworks on Wharf Street west of Mohun Park. The street runs under the Golden Ears Bridge and stops abruptly at the boundary of the Katzie First Nation reserve. To create a safe cycling link to Osprey Village and the regional Greenway system would require an access agreement with Katzie or a new cycling/pedestrian bridge over Katzie Slough.

Our friend Greg Stuart recently joined me on a test run along the initial 6.2-kilometre route. We tried to mimic the experience of a parent with young children, and decided that that even at 6.2 kilometres on flat terrain, 45 minutes is too long a cycle for a most young kids. This will probably work best for people aged 14+.

Three quarters of the 6.2 km out-and-back is already designated and signed for cycling. To make this route better known and used,  the City government should designate the remaining Hammond leg (shown in black on the map) for cycling, and add signs and street markings over time.

Beyond the western end of our proposed route, there is the start of a future loop. Shown as a dashed line on the map, it is all public or utility land. It could be improved to create a connection to the Golden Ears multi-use path, and to the overpass that leads to Osprey and the Pitt Meadows dykes.

Cycling author and blogger Colleen Macdonald has suggested that, rather than approaching the City government for official approval, we should simply encourage the public to use it. We would approach the City after demand takes shape. This post is a small step in that direction.

A city right-of-way connects Wharf Street with cycling pathways to the northwest, but it is an impassable bog through much of the year.

To the north and east, old Hammond gives way quickly to long stretches of infill housing from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. History here is invisible: within living memory, this land was occupied by orchards and berry fields.

A recently opened multi-use path along Lougheed Highway is part of the proposed route. Noisy but safe, the need to include this feature shows the scarcity of east-west cycling choices in a car-dependent city stretched along the Fraser River. The hospital, with no through traffic, sits to the south of this location, and the city cemetery lies conveniently to the north.

The end or beginning of the route at the Memorial Peace Park, home to a Saturday market and close to tourist-friendly (as well as family-friendly) cafes



Pedaling on the Central Valley Greenway

Under the SkyTrain guideway just east of Rupert station, Vancouver.

It would be nice, perhaps, if cycling was the dominant mode of transportation in our West Coast urban world. We’ll never know. In reality, most people cringe at the idea of riding side-by-side with cars and trucks.

Winston Street through industrial Burnaby, 11:30 a.m. Saturday

When I told a 60-something friend about my plan to pedal across Vancouver and Burnaby for fun, she said, “That’s dangerous!” I said, “No, we’ll be riding an off-road trail. Local governments built a safe route from downtown Vancouver to New West.” Continue reading

Managing traffic through New Westminster

Pattullo Bridge, Saturday afternoon

Pattullo Bridge, Saturday afternoon

New Westminster within the region, from the New West Master Transportation Plan

New Westminster within the region, from the New West Master Transportation Plan

New Westminster is at the crossroads of Metro Vancouver, with commuter traffic  pouring through from all directions and industrial zones in neighbouring cities around more than half its perimeter

The city government’s 2014 Master Transportation Plan reports 75,000 vehicles per day on the Pattullo crossing of the Fraser River, and 80,000 on the Queensborough crossing. This compares with fewer than 63,000 on the Lions Gate Bridge and fewer than 45,000 at the north end of the Massey Tunnel (provincial estimates for the same year.) Continue reading

The Traboulay-PoCo Trail

The Traboulay PoCo Trail alongside the DeBoville Slough, Port Coquitlam

By DeBoville Slough, Port Coquitlam

As an easy but interesting and varied urban bike trail, the Traboulay-PoCo Trail in Port Coquitlam measures up to anything I’ve experienced in Canada. This 25-kilometre loop passes alongside five different bodies of water. It’s virtually 100 per cent separated from traffic, with only occasional road crossings.

I was reminded of this route when I purchased a book called Easy Cycling Around Vancouver  as part of a plan to spend more time on my bike. None of the trails in the book are in Vancouver, if that matters; they’re all in the suburbs or beyond. The mountains, rivers and inlets that carve up our region are a barrier to car commuting, but they’ve helped planners and local governments build a remarkable inventory of recreational multi-use trails for the use of residents and visitors. Suburban cities like Port Coquitlam are working hard to make their downtown villages complete and attractive; a facility like the PoCo Trail connects neighbourhoods with the downtown, and puts the outdoors at the doorstep of downtown residents. Continue reading

Driving is risky; walking, even more

Poco 1

The Insurance Corporation of British Columbia’s most recent crash statistics attracted scant notice from the media, despite the finding that 281 people died in automobile-related crashes in B.C. in 2012. This is in a population that carries 3.2 million operating licenses.

From 2008 through 2012, we lost an average of 331 people per year to traffic fatalities, the equivalent of having a packed airliner fly into Burnaby Mountain every Christmas Eve. This is an urgent matter for British Columbians, and for local governments in particular; but we tend to devote our attention to slighter issues, such as the unproven risks attached to the blips emitted by the electric company’s metering equipment. Continue reading

To the origin of settlement in Fraseropolis

A stone marking the site of the original Fort Langley, B.C., founded 1829The Golden Ears Bridge forms part of the Trans Canada trail. As you cycle south, it takes you over the Fraser River and over a Metro Vancouver poop processing station, and lands you in a terrain of mills and warehouses. Do not despair.

Derby Reach, looking to Maple RidgeFive minutes to the east, staying on the trail, the industrial lands give way to agriculture; fifteen minutes later you’re at Derby Reach, a fine regional park on the river that contains a marker for the original Fort Langley, the first point of white settlement on British Columbia’s coast. Continue reading

A tour to Port Hammond

Port Hammond, the most extensive neighbourhood of heritage residences in the District of Maple Ridge

The Hammond brothers arrived from England in 1862, an early date for white settlement on the B.C. coast. The Cariboo gold rush of the late 1850s had brought a small influx of settlers to the Fraser Valley, and a few farms had been established on the Albion Flats in the future Maple Ridge; at New Westminster, the seat of colonial government, Her Majesty’s soldiers were still living in tents.

The plan for Port Hammond Junction subdivision, registered 1883.  Most of it was never realized. By 1883, with the railroad’s arrival, the Hammonds prepared to subdivide their farm on the Fraser into urban plots and sell them. Their subdivision was registered as “Port Hammond Junction.” Development was slow until the early 1900s, when a mill was established next to the railway line. The Hammond Cedar Mill still dominates central  Hammond, and is one of the largest private-sector employers in Maple Ridge. Continue reading