Yesterday was the first time I cycled on Westminster Highway. I finished work and was on my way to Tokyo Joe’s near Lansdowne Mall. I decided to cycle just to explore. The trip was 11.5km.
Normally on my commute, I cycle in Vancouver and take my bike on public transit.
My route in was on the Westminster Highway bike lane from Fraserwood Place to Garden City Road. On the highway, there were separated bike lanes, shared lanes, and painted lanes. The separated lane was near farmlands with unpaved road between it and the traffic. Most of the lane was only separated by white paint.
Cycling in Richmond is different from in Vancouver. I find it more difficult because its roads are inconsistent, and I’m not familiar with the roads there. You will find that they have higher speed limits and less traffic calming.
In Richmond, you will find fewer side streets like those in Vancouver at least near Westminster Highway. If you try to go into the side streets, you will often go into parking lots with dead ends or have to travel a long way to go around. It’s like a maze. The junctions are often 1km apart which may make the city car friendly but unfortunately, it discourages walk and cycle commutes.
My plan was to take the side streets or even the sidewalks when I find the traffic too busy.
In Vancouver, it’s much easier to get around by cycling. There are plenty of cycling friendly side streets. The side streets are about 100m apart. A lot of the bike routes in Vancouver have many stop signs and roundabouts, and are limited to 30 km/h which improves safety. You can still cycle in other residential side streets because they are quiet. The main downside is that there are no traffic lights when crossing major streets.
Since the only option for me was to cycle on busy roads in Richmond, I probably won’t change my commute by cycling all the way. I felt too nervous at the intersections.
Have you ever cycled in Richmond? If you have, please share your experience.
Update: This information may not be accurate for all of Richmond and was based on where I cycled. It’s possible that the commute in some other areas of the city is peaceful.
Out of the four cycling mirrors I’ve used, I recommend the Mirrycycle mirror.
I decided to purchase a better mirror at the bike shop Ride on Again after watching the video “No Bike Mirror….Suicidal?”. It costs $15.75 at Mountain Equipment Co-op. If you’re not convinced that a bike mirror is important, you should watch the following video.
The Mirrycycle mirror withstands vibrations very well. Unlike other mirrors, it attaches to your handlebar end with a wedge which makes it very solid. It’s joints can also be tightened further.
When installing, you will have to remove its end cap or cut open your handlebar grip.
I’ve tried mirrors that mount to handlebar grips, handlebar ends with rubber, and helmets. Unfortunately, they aren’t solid like motorcycle mirrors. Vibrations can cause them to drift, making them useless and unsafe to adjust during your ride.
The mirror can also be folded out of the way which makes it useful when parking your bike or cycling in tight spaces. Folding the mirror out of the way prevents it from breaking if your bike falls over.
Mirrycycle also ships replacement parts in case your mirror breaks.
With the mirror, I feel safer cycling. I will know if cars behind are waiting and how busy the street is.
If you want a cycling mirror that’s reliable, I would recommend the Mirrycycle mirror.
Update: WD-40 may loosen the bolts. I would not recommend using it when installing the mirror.
If you cycle commute, a loud horn can be very important because bells are too quiet to be heard inside vehicles.
Since I’ve experienced close calls, mostly close passes, in the past, I’m now really into cycling safely which is why I bought the Airzound horn and daytime safety bicycle lights. Mountain Equipment Co-op sells the horn for $19. I use it for dangers such as close passes and opening car doors. The horn is similar to aerosol horns except that it’s refillable with a tire pump up to 100 PSI.
It’s advertised to be 115 dB which is comparable to car horns. I have tested it to be 115.9 dB at 1 meter.
The horn is installed onto the handlebar of the bicycle with its air canister in the water bottle cage. If your handlebar is too thin, you can wrap it with duct tape. I installed it on the right side because I have a left handed bell for pedestrians. They have an option of attaching the canister to the bicycle frame with Velcro.
The horn has a volume control. From my testing, the canister holds enough air to last 8 seconds continuously at maximum volume and 25 seconds continuously at minimum volume.
When I used the horn for close passes, drivers often seemed surprised because they sped up slightly afterwards. They either didn’t expect me to use a loud horn, or didn’t even know that they were too close. Close passes is the main reason why I avoid busy streets. If I take the lane, drivers sometime honk.
I’m still learning how to react quickly and be able to use it at the proper time. It’s sometimes difficult to tell if a left turning driver notices you when you have the right of way.
If you want to see how effective the horn is, you can go to YouTube. They have lots of videos of cyclists using the horn for close calls.
The horn does have drawbacks which include build quality, reliability, and trigger location. The tube is UV sensitive. You can wrap it with tape to protect it from UV rays and scratches. It looks like volume is reduced by squeezing the tube. This may wear it out. I recommend never adjusting the volume and keeping it at maximum. They should have used an air valve instead. The weather must be at least -10°C for the horn to work which is rarely a problem in the west coast. When honking, you will lose braking power because you won’t be able to use the same hand to brake. It’s better to install the horn on the same side as the rear brake lever because most of the braking comes from the front brake.
If you cycle, my advice is to invest in a loud horn such as the Airzound horn. We need safer cycling.