Biking Richmond breezy, Knight St Bridge wheezy

On one of my days off, I needed to be in Richmond for the morning, but without a car.  I have a monthly pass for Vancouver, but I have to pay extra when I’m in Richmond.  So I decided that I would get around Richmond by my bike instead of just bussing around.

I rode my bike to the bus stop and then just put my bike on the front end bike rack on the bus into Richmond.  It was the 491 One Road bus.  I liked it because it got me closer to where I was going than the 98 B-Line.  When the Canada Line opens, I’m not sure if the One Road bus will still come into Vancouver.  I suspect it will be cut in favour of funnelling all passengers on to the new line.

After my appointment, I decided to head to the Richmond Olympic Oval (ROO) on the banks of the middle arm of the Fraser River.  It was a beautiful morning and the sun was shining brightly.  I don’t think had enough sleep, so I parked my bike and made myself comfy on one of the new benches just behind the ROO.  The sun was wonderfully warm.  After a brief nap, I was hungry and went on search for some late breakfast.

I cycled along the dykes all the way to Cambie Road.  I went by Aberdeen Centre, but discovered that it wasn’t open yet.  I cycled down to Alexandra Road and found a Hong Kong style cafe where I grabbed a $6 breakfast combo complete with eggs, sausage, macaroni & ham, and a drink. You can’t beat that deal.

Richmond Olympic Oval to Aberdeen Centre (blue)
Richmond Olympic Oval to Aberdeen Centre (blue)

After a quick breakfast, I decided to go back to Aberdeen Centre. Beside the cafe, I discovered a little path between two of the shopping complexes that connects Alexandra Road to Leslie and Brown Roads.  Those roads were much nicer to bike down than Hazelbridge because they were residential streets with little traffic.  Whereas Hazelbridge is a mess of tangled traffic trying to get in and out of all the driveways to the little shopping malls.  I tried Hazelbridge earlier and it was quite hairy.  I was always checking for right turners and all the driveways meant a car could be coming out of a parking lot at anytime.  Brown Road, which runs parallel to Hazelbridge was much nicer to ride.

A loop from Aberdeen Centre to Alexandra Road and back (green)
A loop from Aberdeen Centre to Alexandra Road and back (green)

After a little while at Aberdeen Centre, I decided to make my way home.  I didn’t really feel like paying extra to cross back across the Fraser, so I decided to bike it.  I tried out the new bike lanes along No. 3 Road underneath the Canada Line guideway.  The lane was okay in its current state.  It’s not totally finished and there is a lot of dust and debris on the lane at the moment.  The City of Richmond has not finished everything yet, obviously.  One nice thing is that the bike lane is slightly elevated compared to roadway.  What I don’t like is that the lane is right beside the car traffic lane.  I’d rather have been an extra lane beside the sidewalk.  It would have been less freaky.  However, I managed to keep up with traffic because of all the lights along No. 3 Road.

I cycled up past the River Rock casino towards the new North Arm Bridge that will carry the new Canada Line trains.  I was hoping they had already opened the bike and pedestrian portion of the bridge, but the fence was locked shut.  From what I saw, the bike and pedestrian portion are fairly wide and should accommodate both bikes and walkers fairly well.  You can actually see the onramp on the Google Maps satellite shot below.  Since the North Arm Bridge wasn’t open yet, I decided to make my way to the Knight Street Bridge.

North Arm Bridge pedestrian/bike onramp (red marker)
North Arm Bridge pedestrian/bike onramp (red marker)

I followed River Road most of the way.  I was hoping to follow the dykes along the Fraser River all the way to Knight Street. In West Richmond, the dykes have paths along them, but in this part of Richmond, there is no dedicated path and people cannot access the riverfront at all points.  So I had to stay on River Road.  Fortunately, it wasn’t too busy along the road, although there were a couple of semis from time to time.

I did manage to pass by the Richmond Night Market location and saw them setting up for the Victoria Day long weekend opening.  As I passed by, I was wishing there was a better way to reach the market than by driving.  It seems like everyone drives to the Night Market.  I think the market worked better when it was in the huge parking lot at Lansdowne Mall.  Rent is probably cheaper in their current location, though.

Along River Road to Knight & Marine (red)
Along River Road to Knight & Marine (red)

Getting onto the Knight Street bridge was a challenge.  I made the mistake of going under the bridgespan first and trying to find a way onto the bridge from the east side of Knight Street.  I went in a huge loop before I could get onto the bridge itself.  Cyclists have to take the sidewalk on the bridge and you can tell that the sidewalk was designed to accommodate either one pedestrian or one cyclist at a time.  It was very narrow.

Not only was the path narrow, but it was extremely dusty.  The dust was often blown up into my face by the traffic on bridge.  The large semis were the worst.  You could feel the rush of air as they passed by.  And here I was just working hard to make it to the crest of the bridge.  When you get to Mitchell Island, you have to cross one offramp and one onramp to keep going.  That wasn’t too bad.  It was at the offramp for Marine Drive where it was crazy.  Cars coming off the Knight Street Bridge at speeds ranging from 60-80 km/h.  I just stood and waited for a break in the traffic.  A semi was nice enough to just slow to a crawl, block traffic for me, and let me across the offramp.

By the time I was across Marine Drive, I was in no mood to try and climb up the hill.  I just rolled my bicycle to the #22 bus stop underneath the bridgespan.  I took the bus up to a higher elevation and then cycled my way home. Overall, I was happy with the distance I had cycled.  I had cycled over 13 kms.  Richmond was nice and flat and easy to ride, but the ride across the Knight Street Bridge is not an experience that I want to repeat.

2 thoughts on “Biking Richmond breezy, Knight St Bridge wheezy

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