I’ve had a rare weekend by myself at 100 Prince Street: Oliver’s been at the Cloggeroo Folk Festival in Georgetown since Friday, and Catherine’s been in hospital, trying to get her back pain under control.
I used the opportunity to leave the car in the driveway for the entire weekend and cycle everywhere. Here’s a trace of my cycling (recorded by the Bike Citizens app on my phone):
I cycled 30 km yesterday, which included two trips to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and a trip to the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market from the hospital.
I learned a couple of things along the way:
- It takes 15 minutes to cycle from our house to the hospital. That’s really only a few minutes longer than it takes to drive, and most of the way is along the scenic multi-use trail along Riverside Drive that’s separated from vehicle traffic. The hospital should take advantage of this to encourage visitors to cycle. And if you’re going to visit someone yourself, consider taking your bicycle.
- There appeared to be no provision whatsoever made to the multi-use trail during sewer construction in front of Riverview Country Market on Friday: the trail was blocked, but with no cycle detour, forcing cyclists to cut through the parking lot and navigate uncontrolled construction vehicle traffic. If active transportation is going to become a first class option in Charlottetown, we need to make equal provisions for routing cyclists around construction as we do cars and trucks.
- Taking a water bottle along on cycle trips is a really, really good idea. I’ve never gotten into the habit of doing this, but I will now.
- The cycle lane along Belvedere Avenue from Ellis Brothers to Mount Edward Road is in horrible shape, the result of several construction projects that degraded it. This is a shame because otherwise it’s a great cycle route: lots of room on a broad shoulder, and a great east-west connector across the city.
- It would be nice if we could connect the path that goes around the Charlottetown Event Grounds with the Riverside Drive multi-use trail; as it stands cycling from one to the other requires a detour through the back of the Wendy’s parking lot.
- The Irving Gas Station on Riverside Drive charges $1 for using its air pump. Huh?
- The bicycle parking lot at the Charlottetown Farmers’ Market is very well used. Indeed, there’s a need for more bicycle parking there, as it was full when I arrived.
I’ll bring forward many of these issues to the Mayor’s Task Force on Active Transportation; if experience so far is any guide, the city will take quick action to address them.
The (full) Bicycle Parking Lot at Charlottetown Farmer’s Market
I used to bike to the QEH on a daily basis for work. The troubles with the multi-use path are ongoing. In the winter, it would take up to two weeks to clear the path after a storm.
The connection to the QEH is more complex than it needs to be. A crosswalk could either be added to the other side of the intersection of Riverview and Murchison where the bike path continues along the shore. A path could also be built to cut across the corner into the front parking lot of the hospital, though it's less likely to be cleared when the snow does come.
My preferred downtown-to-QEH route had been through the Robert Ghiz park and through the provincial garage parking lot. Perhaps a proper multi-use path connection can be made once the provincial garage is relocated and surplussed. There is a bike repair station in this area as well, with air pump! No tire pressure gauge though.
Depending on how the wind blows, you are presented with a unique olfactory experience only this commute can offer: the horse barns, the sewer plant and the waste-to-energy incinerator.
Slightly unrelated but still within the realm of eco-friendly commuting. The bus schedule to the QEH works well for staff who work 8-4 but not for those that follow nurses' shifts. These revolve around 8- and 12-hour "intervals" of 7:30 AM. I'm familiar with some staff who live downtown, but likely drive out of the inconvenience of this.
It's sad how little our transit service the hospital. Communities should be built around several key pieces of infrastructure. Like libraries, hospitals (really, today, they're wellness centres) should be accessible by transit just as frequently as a shopping mall. As a taxpayer, I'd rather lose money per-ride by helping someone access the QEH than the Charlottetown Mall.
About the fee to use air pumps at gas bars - I have noticed these as well (not PEI) but I have found that if you go inside and ask them to turn on the air pump, they will do so at no charge. Also a good idea to get a tire pressure gauge for your bike tires at the air pump - I was looking for assistance at a full service gas bar last week (for my vehicle) and they would no longer give assistance unless I had a tire gauge (liability, I was told). I checked at WalMart and found 3 prices, from about $3.50 to $8.50. I have been informed I can get the cheapest one next time I am back. (My vehicle tire that was low is now filled.)