Central Valley Greenway - A Ribbon of Green
Twenty years ago, we lacked good bike routes across the region. Lougheed Hwy in Burnaby had a wide shoulder, but the heavy traffic made cycling it uncomfortable. The options got worst in Vancouver. When Lougheed turned into Broadway, the shoulders disappeared and all other roads in the area were very hilly and/or clogged with high speed traffic.
Inspired by the Lochside Trail and Galloping Goose on the Island, it was clear that we needed good cycling routes to connect the region. Fortunately, former Burnaby Mayor Doug Drummond was a champion of greenways. Under his leadership, Burnaby made sure that right of ways were reserved for them.
Over the years, I searched for alternate routes. Winston had wide lanes that were okay on the weekends when traffic was low. The Millennium Line construction had left a rough trail west of Boundary that was passable, if not a bit muddy at times.
The breakthrough came with the discovery of a rough sandy trail between Gilmore and Willingdon. It was then possible for the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (now HUB Cycling) to show people a possible route. Around 20 people came on the first ride; participants included Councillor Gordon Price. Gordon took some amazing photos of the Greenway that really captured its potential and then championed the Greenway in the City of Vancouver and region.
“Cycling” the route was a bit of an adventure. Still fun though. During the rides, the people pushing their bikes through the sand trap where the Costo now is typically had big smiles on their faces.
When Vancity announced the competition for the first $1 million Award, I immediately thought the Greenway would be a great candidate. Dave Thompson, BEST’s Executive Director, had the same idea. We met and decided to go for it. Most transportation issues in the day were complicated. This was simple. We just had to find Vancity members and encourage them to vote yes.
The winning of the Vancity Award both raised the profile of the CVG and provided funding that enable people at BEST -- including Marion Town, Keith Ross, Ray Straatsma and Samantha Hartley-Folz -- to build public and political support. Several rides along the route over the next few years brought more people a glimpse of its potential.
The next competition for the Greenway was the Federal Urban Transportation Showcase. Gavin Davidson and Tamin Raad made sure that the Greenway was a big part of the Showcase and, as a result, the region received $3.5 million for the CVG.
With the Federal funding the CVG became a great example of all levels of government working together. TransLink coordinated the efforts of Vancouver, Burnaby and New Westminster. TransLink and municipalities also provided much of the funding. Back then, TransLink had up to $6 million per year for cycling. Funding also came from the Provincial Government's Local Motion program that totalled $40 million for cycling and other projects across the Province.
Still, there is much to be done. Due to lack of funding, key improvements including a separated path along Winston and a bridge over the rail yards west of Clark were cut. HUB is working to get a connection from the CVG to the Port Mann Bridge and PoCo Trail as part of their Ungap the Map campaign.
The path through Hume Park is quite steep and is gravel down to Braid Station. With the Province planning on redoing the Brunette Interchange, this is an ideal time to build a flatter, more direct route near Highway 1. As well, upgrades separating cyclists from pedestrians are needed near several of the SkyTrain stations along the route.
I call upon the Government of BC to enable everyone in BC to cycle & walk in safety as part of their daily lives by implementing an Active Transportation Strategy that includes:
- Investing $1 billion over the next ten years to:
- Upgrade cycling & walking facilities on provincial roads & bridges
- Complete cycling & walking networks in communities across BC
- Provide safe routes to school for children
- Build trails & routes for cycling & walking tourism
- Ensuring that paths & protected bike lanes can be safely shared by people using wheelchairs, skateboards & in-line skates
- Enhancing cycling education for children & adults
- Promoting cycling & walking
- Encouraging electric bike use by eliminating the PST & providing rebates