This circle ride is geared to blow your mind! Perfect for riders who want a long flat cruise along Lulu Island’s north tip as it circles the Island’s Fraser River Shoreline.
Riding up Stewardson Way has become much more bike friendly since the BC Parkway and in the last few years this has been improved even more. At the bridge is a bike interchange that connects to the Queensborough Bridge or continues up the BC parkway to Central Park in Burnaby and then into Vancouver if you wish. My first time up this trail last year (in five years) was confusing as I would usually cross Stewardson Way on a double cross walk that was a little nerve wracking as you waited on a tiny island while giant trucks roared by right beside you in both directions but now that crossover was gone. I searched for half an hour trying to figure out how to cross until I finally came to the beginning of the bridge, which had changed so much I didn’t even recognize it. I had never seen a bike interchange overpass before and stood there for half an hour wondering how many millions had been spent on this amazing piece of concrete and steel. If you are going to Queensborough you turn up ramp off of the main bike path before the bridge and then cross the bridge. If you are proceeding up the BC Parkway or want to join on to the Cross Town bike path on 7th you follow the main bike path under the bridge and then turn up the ramp on the south side, ride up to the bridge turn north and ride up to the 22nd Street SkyTrain Station.
I had not ridden this area for over five years and then it was horrible and the worst part was the Queensborough Bridge. When I was managing local bike patrols one of our jobs was cleaning the bike lanes on the bridges, sweeping up broken glass (beer bottles) and any other hazards we would find. This bridge scared even those spike haired tattooed young men and women working for me. A thin sidewalk, slanted towards the roadbed which was filled with giant trucks roaring that seemed to suck one right off the sidewalk to be ground to mincemeat under the wheels of a semi or it sure felt like that. Now it is completely bike friendly and when you rise over the Fraser River you get an amazing view of this bustling waterway that you would have to ride in a helicopter to equal.
Queensborough used to be a sleepy waterlogged farm community with huge ditches filled with black water and to get near the Fraser you had to cross acres of Blackberry bushes. A few large factories and sawmills were slowly dying to join the majority of old school industries that were now barred up, with broken windows and swarmed by Blackberry bushes who were attempting to reclaim them back into fields that they sat on.
The Queensborough of today has retrained its history, after cleaning it up, and began a residential program on the north tip that has now taken over much of this part of the island, changing broken down abandoned factories and mills into beautiful housing project and new parks. As they develop all of these various housing projects, some a large condo style and others as single family houses, the contractors have laid out a circling bike/pedestrian path that follows the river for many kilometres.
This (the first loop) now links with the southern portion (the second loop) of New West on Lulu Island that now has bike lanes laid out on South Dyke Road until you get the Boundary Road (division between Richmond and New West) where a new bike trail parallels Boundary so that you are not exposed to an ten foot bank over a ditch the size of a small river. Once you cross Westminster Hwy you connect with another new bike path that takes you back to the base of the bridge, right past the Starlight Casino and a large mall.
When riding the Queensborough Bridge I recommend riding north on the south side of the bridge and when riding to the island being on the north side. This will make more sense when more people discover this ride for now I hardly ever see other cyclists riding this route. Even on sunny days I may only encounter a half dozen other riders and walker. Try riding the seawall on a sunny day.
This ride is based on two loops, the first loop is 12 km beginning at the Quay to Stewardson to the Bridge to Queensborough on the north tip of the Island. The second loop of this ride is a continuance of the first and adds another 7 km of great views along the Fraser River on South Dyke Rd as well as the casino and mall. The only hill is the slight grade up Stewardson Way at the beginning of the ride and the bridge itself, while both loops are as flat as table tops.
Last year when I was beginning the planning for Fraser River Bike Tours & Rentals and rode this for the first time in years I was blown away at the changes and that a new and incredible circle route for cyclists had been created, almost by accident. Since then the city has finished most of the project by connected the last few missing links as well as putting in two great parks, one a cycling park.
Now that the city is aware of this new circle route’s potential for family and tourist riding it will be fine tuned over the next few years, guided by the feedback of the public who are now just discovering it as a hiking or cycling trail.
I plan when Fraser River Bike Tours is opened (May 21 is the goal) to take the city council, department heads and any other interested officials and business owners on free guided ride around this circle route to show them first hand the potential of this ride to families and businesses from ours and neighbouring communities. The Queensborough Loop is the Vancouver Seawall on Steroids. Twice the ride, way more river scenery, a real look at the history of the area and wonderful, dedicated bike trails that are perfect for newer riders up to old calloused veterans like myself. River Market at the Quay boardwalk will be the perfect spot to start the ride and end it with all of is shops and restaurants offering an amazing selection of food and refreshment.
Debbie and I ride every second day a minimum of twenty km. Our favourite ride (because of the 7+ km hill) begins at our new business at the Quay River Market, up BC parkway to Central Park and back about 25km but on sunny days we love to ride the Queensborough loop. The rive views, wildlife we see, amazing spots that want to seduce us into a shaded nap by the river (which of course we resist to get our miles in) make this ride as sunny day wonder for us that will never grow old. I will attempt to post the map.