British Columbia

Port Mann Bridge an important route for cyclists, commuters say

Thousands of cyclists have been out on the roads around Metro Vancouver this week taking part in the fall edition of Bike To Work Week.

'It's a huge difference; it's totally opened up a new route for cyclists'

CBC's Margaret Gallagher cycled across the bridge connecting Coquitlam to Surrey, B.C. 0:49

Thousands of cyclists have been out on the roads around Metro Vancouver this week taking part in the fall edition of Bike To Work Week.

HUB Cycling organizes the community event twice a year to encourage year-round bike commuting and advocate for safer cycling infrastructure. They set up more than 40 "celebration stations" around the city with treats, bike repairs and prizes.

Tim Yzerman, co-chair of the HUB Surrey committee, was at the Port Mann Bridge station on Friday morning on his way to work.

Yzerman said the bridge, which was completed in the summer of 2015, has been a significant change for cyclists.

"It's a huge difference. It's totally opened up a new route for cyclists," Yzerman told CBC's Margaret Gallagher. "Before, we couldn't go from Surrey to Coquitlam easily and now you can."

The bike route leading up to the bridge is marked, and the bridge itself has a three-metre-wide path for walking and cycling, protected by a railing.

Tim Yzerman regularly commutes by bike to work between Surrey and Burnaby, cycling more than 20 kilometres in each direction. (Margaret Gallagher/CBC)

Yzerman said the bigger challenge is the infrastructure on the Coquitlam side of the bridge.

"It takes a seasoned cyclist to be able to do it," he said. "You have to ride on a busy highway — Lougheed Highway — with bike lanes. Traffic is 70 or 80 km/h, so it's not for the faint of heart."

Twenty-seven cyclists rode across the Port Mann Bridge on Friday morning between 6:30 and 9:00 a.m. during the Bike To Work Week event.  ​

Yzerman has commuted on two wheels between Surrey and Burnaby for years, regularly cycling between 40 and 50 kilometres a day. 

"You kind of get used to it," Yzerman said. "You have to sort of build your way into it, build up your muscle strength and all that."

HUB Cycling said nearly 6,000 cyclists registered for the week-long event including more than 400 people who cycled to work for the first time. 

Although Yzerman is an avid cyclist who rides all year, he encourages people to ride to their comfort levels.

He has an electric motor hooked to his bike to help him get around and sometimes he combines cycling with a SkyTrain ride — especially on rainy days.

"Just ride when you want to," he said. "It's not bad when it's dark and dry. It's a little bit worse when it's wet."

Bike To Work Week runs until Sunday, Oct. 29.​

To hear more, click on the audio below:

With files from Margaret Gallagher who commuted by bike for Bike to Work Week, including a short stint on the SkyTrain, from East Vancouver across the Port Mann Bridge Friday morning.