Archive for August, 2014

Salt Spring Island visit

Visiting Salt Spring Island Saturday Market. [ ].These are the biggest market days with lots of entertainment, happening on the largest of the Gulf Islands between Vancouver Island and the mainland British Columbia. From Victoria BC Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal (see also my last post on BC Ferries – [ ]) take the smaller ferry (vehicles and foot passengers) to Salt Spring. As this is a weekend and despite the market day is big and promises lots of visitors to the island, the ferry was 30 minutes late to leave the dock. Resulting in – on the island side – missing the local bus from Fulford Harbour to Ganges (about 20 km) [ ]. That is where the market unfolds. I was lucky in meeting a couple of nice ladies on the ferry who gave me a ride in their car from Fulford to Ganges. No parking there. Met them later again, they told me they did not find parking for almost one hour. So when you drive, it is quite expensive for ferry services (vehicle plus driver almost C$50), vs. walking onto Ferry (C$12). Secondly difficult to find parking anywhere near Ganges. The Market Days are always very busy. I decided early afternoon to take the bus from Ganges back to the Harbour for one of the ferries – that one also came in 30 minutes late. Lucky I had left my own car on the other side Swartz Bay Terminal (24 hr rate is C$12). To drive home to Victoria.


Bicycle friendly cities

I love bicycling – right now I got myself my third bicycle, an Opus Cervin European style – love it. Each bicycle for a different function and purpose, one just for grocery shopping (has a basket), my mountain bike for off road trails mostly, and my new latest bike for good trails. It cruises along just fine. I also watched when in Europe which cities are bicycle friendly. Just found among many sites, this site: [ ]. I have not been in all of those cities, but some. Must say, that whatever constitutes ‘bicycle friendly’ refers to bicycle infrastructure and facilities more than how many cyclists are sharing the bike lanes (roads or other) making cycling either comfortable or unsafe.
Berlin for example, I spent over 4 months (2010) mostly walking on the side walk, my head turned backward to avoid getting run over by a bike. There are still lots of old cobble stone streets on which a bicycle would have a hard time to ride, therefore they simply ride (rather speeding) on the side walk among the pedestrians. While the cycle lanes on those wide major traffic streets share with public transport – buses nilly-willy, wow ! Scary stuff.
The Netherlands – I had rented a bike for 3 months and using the cycle lanes – separate from the main traffic. Fine and good. But, again so many people, so many bicycles. Difficult to move. In fact, although I cycle a lot – there I accomplished to actually fall over with that bike – to the amusement of the Dutch watching me. The bicycles over there having different brake systems than North America.
I would love to try somewhere in Denmark. Here in Victoria BC Canada, it still is a killer operation. Very few bikes among the traffic, which may be more dangerous than too many. [Safety in numbers.] Despite having bike lanes pasted directly onto the tarmac, which a vehicle driver does not always see or observe. We also out of courtesy give priority to public buses. What we have lies outside the city core – many miles of dedicated bicycle/walk trails, some through wilderness. But one must first get there from home – through heavy downtown traffic. The wonderful thing about our outlying trail system is, that there are now many water fountains, and even bike tools for repairs – for all cyclists to use.

In Canada, a neat bike city had been Ottawa. Or even Edmonton. Effort is being made to improve the situation like Share the Road Program [ ]. I always have the feeling here in Canada, that in spite most people own bicycles they do not use them too much because they do not feel comfortable, because cars still rule. To become comfortable and therefore also a safe rider, one must cycle a lot, at the same time obey the rules. (Incidents do occur: see also my post on “Attacks on cycle trails.” )
[ ]

Why is it that in that community west of Victoria BC so many attacks are happening on cyclists enjoying a ride on the ‘Galloping Goose’ (name of our Western cycling trails) and also on folks just enjoying a peaceful walk on the same trails ?
Just yesterday I was on my bicycle in that same area around the time in the morning – it was after 10 AM – where close by another female cyclist was attacked on her mountain bike,  pushed off and the bicycle was stolen. [ ].
Since this where the actual cycling trails are nearby is a distance from my home – downtown Victoria – I had taken the BC Transit bus out to the western communities (loading my mountain bike on the bus), then got off at Colwood, near Langford, and starting from there on my bike.
Not long ago there were some more attacks reported – cougars spotted around Langford and the ‘Galloping Goose’ (one of the big cats roaming there was eventually shot), [ ] , and another female walking on that trail had also been attacked [ ].
I cycle a lot, alone, and consider myself lucky to be still alive (with all that heavy traffic especially outside the city core areas, and the lonely Galloping Goose cycling trails going thru some pretty wilderness areas). So, what is the matter with that Langford ? When I cycle on the other trails going north of Victoria up to Sidney, always safe.

BC Ferries & Vancouver Island

Living on Vancouver Island [] , there is no other way to get off the island other than by ferry. BC Ferries [ ] is one of the largest of such ferry operation in the world. The vessels are massive by any standard (I have seen other ferry operations in Europe, to compare). BC Ferries has a large fleet of different sizes vessels [ ].
Because Vancouver Island is mainly formed from rocks, above and under the water, negotiating large vessels requires good technology and expert handling. In addition, the presence of under water gas lines (see also Vancouver Island Pipeline marine rights of way,
Interesting points: It has happened in the past that a crossing has had its problems, either the vessel not being able to stop in time and hit the dock at the arrival area (example: [ ]. Or more serious, when in 2006 the Queen of the North (fifth largest in the fleet) collided with under water rocks and sank, with 101 people on board, mostly saved, two lost – never found. [ ].

I always enjoy taking a ferry trip to one of the Gulf Islands, Strait of Georgia, between mainland BC and Vancouver Island. Last weekend my trip to Salt Spring Island. (see also: next post on Salt Spring Island). Left my car at Ferry Terminal parking (cost of car on Ferry is C$35 + C$12 for passenger/driver, quite expensive for 35 minutes crossing). Disadvantage to not crossing with car is to have to rely on public transport at each end. That weekend the ferry was 30 minutes late both ways. Buses must run on schedule, meaning no ready transport from terminal harbour to town sites. Yet, the major ferries between Vancouver Island and the mainland (Vancouver) are usually on schedule.