25 Jan 2016

Route: Railway Greenway (Richmond, BC)

The Railway Greenway was completed in 2014 along what was formerly the Richmond-Steveston tram line. For many years (at least as long as I've been on this earth), the abandoned rail line sat idle. It was largely overgrown and unkempt and consumed a large track of land that ran right through the city. Turning that land into a multi-use trail was the perfect solution.

The Railway Greenway runs alongside Railway Avenue from the Britannia Heritage Shipyard at the south end to the Middle Arm Dyke Trail at the north end. Overall, the trail is approximately 5 km long. Further, unlike the on-street bike lanes along Railway, the Railway Greenway is physically separated from the street by a ditch, ,trees in many places, and about 20 metres. Thus, it is an incredibly safe route for walking, running, bicycling, or any other method a human-powered transportation.

The trail is well marked and has some really unique signs. One of my favourites is the direction markers on the trail itself. 

One of the drawbacks is that the trail crosses several major roads. While there are designated pedestrian crossing signals, and bright green paint on the road to highlight the crosswalk, motorists still tend to try to fly through without waiting for a pedestrian to cross. Not a problem exclusive to the Railway Greenway of course, but definitely one that impacts it.

Every time I run, walk, or ride my bike down this trail, it looks a bit better too. The trees that line the trail are getting more mature (fuller and taller). The trail itself looks settled in now too.

The other great thing about the Railway Greenway is that it connects to several other trails (bike, walk, or run routes). Most notably, there's the South Dyke out of Britannia Heritage Shipyard, the bike routes along Williams Road, bike routes along Granville Road, and the Middle Arm Dyke at the top. So not only is the Railway Greenway excellent for leisure activities, it's also incredibly functional as a commuter route.

If you haven't checked it out already, you really should. I only wish there were more routes like this in Richmond. While the dyke system provides a fantastic trail system, it me
rely circles the perimeter. I love that the Railway Greenway goes through the city. I'd love to see more like it.

22 Jan 2016

Gear: Two Wheel Gear The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier

For all of 2015, with my wife on mat leave, I was able to use my bike as my sole method of commuting to and from work. Honestly, in terms of commuting, it was the best year of my life. I enjoyed every single day of it.

My commute is 20 km each way, which takes me between 45 and 55 minutes, depending on my energy level. As such, my ride is substantial enough that I need to change into my work clothes when I get there. Luckily, my office building has exceptional facilities available: showers, change rooms, secure bike storage, etc.

One of the challenges was getting my work clothes (dress pants and dress shirt) to the office without wrinkling them up in a backpack. Also, backpacks are sweaty and uncomfortable, especially on hot summer days.

So for my birthday last year, which is in late spring, my wife got me the number one item on my wish list: The Classic 2.0 Garment Pannier from Two Wheel Gear. I can't remember where I had first heard about Two Wheel Gear, but early in 2015 I started seeing the name appearing in articles more and more. Two Wheel Gear is a great local company with a great concept: a suit bag that's made to fit on your bike. As for the company itself, "the focus is to create the very best bags in the world for professional business commuters, to keep innovating with new commuting bags and to make it extremely easy to bike to work."

The garment pannier was the perfect solution to my problem. The main pocket zips completely open and lays flat for organizing clothes. Inside, there are a couple small pockets for socks, belts, ties, or other accessories. Inside the flap, there is a laptop pouch and a larger accessory pocket.

On the outside, it looks almost like a regular set of panniers. Large outer pockets have ample space for shoes, a packed lunch, a jacket, or whatever else you need to carry.

The bag comes with a bright yellow rain cover that attaches to the outside of the bag. The nice part about it is that I can detach it and leave it at home on the days I know it won't rain. But if the forecast shows a chance of rain, I simply clip the rain cover on, just in case I need it.

The other thing I really like about the bag is that it comes with a shoulder strap. So when I park my bike, like on the days I take a shorter 5 km bike ride to the train, I simply unhook the bag from my bike, throw the strap over my shoulder, and, voila, a shoulder bag. Now I will admit, that the bag is a bit bulky to be an awesome shoulder bag. Thankfully, that's not it's primary purpose. The bag has to be that bulky to fit both the length and width of the clothes inside. The only downside is that I have to really squish it into the lockers at work (which I assume are standard size changing room lockers). Even an inch less width would make it a lot easier to fit.

Overall, I love this bag. I use it every single time I ride to work. The quality of it is top notch. It has big, sturdy zippers on it. And after almost a year's worth of daily use, it barely has any signs of wear at all. When it gets dusty from the road/trail, a quick rinse with the hose and it's cleaned right up.

Now if this is a bit too much for what you're looking for, Two Wheel Gear is close to releasing a smaller Pannier Backpack. I am extremely intrigued by this bag as well, especially for the days when I don't have as much to carry.

You really can't go wrong with either option!