Velo Cape Breton update for cycling enthusiasts.
Volume 15, #4 - Cabot Trail in 4 Days
IN THIS EDITION:
EDITORIAL: Cabot Trail in 4 Days
A few years ago, the stars aligned in the appropriate celestial pattern which meant that I was able to finally sign up for the Cabot Trail in 4 Days Bicycle Tour, organized by Jacques Cote and Micheline Guillot under the umbrella of Velo Cape Breton. Of course by "stars" what I mean is all my work commitments, family responsibilities, household projects and countless other social interactions. By aligned what I mean is that I was able to postpone, cancel, hand-off or otherwise shirk my responsibilities for a full 4 days of cycling around the Cabot Trail. This does not happen that often, the same I am sure for many of you as well.
This tour had been on my bucket list for a few years prior to my actually signing up, so I was very excited to finally have the opportunity to join in the adventure. The Cabot Trail is well publicized around the globe as one of the top 10 cycling destinations, and having the start of the tour less than 1 hour away from home, made it the logical choice for my first multi-day cycling tour.
It was an awesome tour, I met some great cyclists from as near as the other side of the island, and from as far away as a group from the UK. On the first day we hit some rain, which I will use as the reason why four of us missed the turnoff and ended up cycling an extra 20-30km. Fortunately, there were no mountains to climb that day, so the extra kilometers were not as significant as they otherwise could have been. We managed to swim in the ocean after each of the first 3 days ride, which felt really good on the legs. On the second last day, riding into Ingonish, my rear tire started to bounce around. Thinking that I had a flat, I stopped to change it, only to realize that I didn't have a flat but my tire actually had a broken belt. This was a new experience for me, and something that I'm glad did not happen while descending one of the Mountains! I hobbled into Ingonish, and one of my fellow riders loaned me a spare tire so I was able to continue my ride the next day. All in all a very memorable 4 days and I encourage all of you to consider tour for 2018.
Velo Cape Breton's Cabot Trail in 4 Days
Yes, as you can see from the above poster,the signature event for Velo Cape Breton for 2018, the Cabot Trail in 4 Days Bicycle Tour is now open for registration. Don't delay, already 1/4 of the spots have been reserved. For more information, and to reserve your spot, please go to velocapebreton.ca and select the "Rides and Events", or just click on this link: CT4D Registration
For those of you who may be unaware, rumble strips are divots cut out of the asphalt road surface, and are placed sometimes on the yellow center line of the road, and sometimes on the white 'fog line' on the right hand side of the road. Rumble strips are placed on the highways in order to alert motor vehicle traffic when they inadvertently deviate from the normal path of travel. The way they alert the driver is by causing a vibration and a noise felt and heard within the vehicle. While this may seem beneficial to motor vehicles, for a bicycle, the size and depth of the rumble strip divot causes a serious potential hazard. The sharp edges of the divot can flat a bicycle tire, and the continuous stretch of divots can cause a rider to lose control and crash.
In 2014, The Province of Nova Scotia did not have a written policy of where and how to install rumble strips, and they started to appear in places that were very detrimental to bicycle traffic, including such areas as Kelly's Mountain and Bras d'Or where the shoulder of the road was not wide enough to accommodate bicycle traffic as well as rumble strips, so the cyclist was forced to then ride in the main travel lane of the road and share with motor vehicles travelling at 100+ km/hr.
These circumstances were unacceptable to Velo Cape Breton, and so a position paper was developed and submitted to government, a copy of the paper can be downloaded here: VCB Rumble Strip Position Paper. In time, the Province eventually developed their policy on Rumble Strips, (download policy) which included the VCB recommendation of not installing rumble strips unless the shoulder of the road is 2m wide or greater. Unfortunately, they seem to have difficulty following their own policy, which prompted the following recent letters, reprinted here with permission of the authors.
Rumble Strips - Letter from Velo Club Cheticamp Feb 15, 2018
I was a witness yesterday of the Department of Highways putting rumble strips on the Transcanada Highway 101 west of Kelly’s mountain on the paved shoulders.
In some spots it was well between the white line and the gravel shoulder, leaving but a few feet of space. Having cycled that stretch numerous time, I found that the paved shoulder in that area, although 3-4 feet wide was barely enough to feel secure because of the high speed of traffic and the numerous 18 wheelers using that route on their way in and out of Newfoundland.
Now with the rumble strip to the right or the white line or clearly in the middle of the paved shoulder, it simply makes it too dangerous to cycle in that section; you have the gravel shoulder to the right and the dangerous rumble strips to the left. Cyclistes will be left with two options, drive in the vehicle lane in the hope of not getting hit by the motorists travelling at 100 km and over and hope for the best or risk crossing the rumble strips at the last minute which could cause a blowout or to lose control of you bike. On the other hand cycling in a two feet wide strip with rumble strips to your left and gravel to your right is equally dangerous.
Obviously, the decision to put rumble strips on the edge of any highway in Nova Scotia was done with only vehicular traffic in mind with no regards to cyclistes. I had assumed that this policy and practice had been put aside a few years ago after Velo Cape Breton had advised you and your department of the dangers of those rumble strips. Personally, I do not have a problem with rumble strips being put on the yellow line.
Have you ever cycled down kelly's Mountain on a summer day with trucks flying past? I invite you and your colleagues and engineers who prepare these directives up to the Minister of Transport if necessary to do so. You will quickly come to the realisation that rumble strips there should not have been put in, are dangerous and should be removed. At the lower section just as you get in the 180 degree turn the paved shoulder narrows down to nothing forcing all cyclistes to cross over the rumble strip almost into the lane of traffic or take the gravel shoulder. For the unwary cyclist not knowing this, it is a dangerous prospect at any speed but what if you are going 30, 40 or 50 km per hour or more and your loaded with baggage? It is but an accident waiting to happen on Kelly's Mountain and now it is but an accident waiting to happen on the west side of Kelly's Mountain.
And for the Minister of transport, I would invite him also to inquire to the organizers of the Gran Fondo in his riding of Guysborough what they think of the rumble strip on the side of the roads.
Please stop this practice immediately and remove the rumble strips and restore the pavement as it was, not only on Kelly's Mountain but all over Nova Scotia.
Vélo Club Chéticamp
More Rumble Strips - Letter from Chris Milburn to Gerard Jessome and Geoff MacLellan Feb 15, 2018
I can’t tell you how upset I am about this.
My wife Julie and I moved to Cape Breton in 2003. Julie is not from CB and we’ve struggled with the issue of staying vs. moving for as long as we’ve been here.
In 2004, we bought a cottage in Ross Ferry near the Cedar House. One of the big things that has kept us in CB over the years is that this area is a cycling Mecca in the summer months. We regularly cycle from home in Sydney to the cottage, from the cottage to Baddeck or around St. Ann’s Bay. We bicycle a combined distance of over 10,000 Km/year, so it’s a big part of our life.
A few years back rumble strips were added to the TCH in Boularderie area and through Bras D’Or, which made cycling there MUCH less safe, comfortable, or appealing. When these rumble strips were added up the east side of Kelly’s Mountain, it forced cyclists from the (albeit small) shoulder out into the 110Km/hr traffic. Julie, and many of my other cycling friends, stopped cycling there. We moved a long-held yearly event (the Kelly’s Climb bicycle time trial held by Velo Cape Breton) to the west side of the mountain. Julie and I no longer cycle over the mountain, rather she takes the car and parks it on top of the mountain to start where there are no rumble strips. It made our comfortable, safe cycle routes much more limited.
I had contacted Geoff when the Boularderie and east Kelly’s rumble strips were done and suggested he come for a ride with me so I can show him just how destructive these are to the cycling experience, and just how dangerous they make cycling. I understand he is very busy, but neither he nor anyone else followed up on this offer.
About 2 years ago when going around the trail I met a serious looking cyclist. After some conversation I found out he was actually one of the higher-ups with a large international bike touring company, coming to do some reconnaissance for a possible tour in Cape Breton. He asked me “what the hell is up with those rumble strips on the way here from Sydney? Do they not want cyclists on those roads?”. He was quite clear that they did not plan to bring a yearly tour group here to CB and this lack of a safe route from the airport/Sydney area to the Cabot Trail was part of this decision.
I’m not against rumble strips. I’m currently in Hawaii doing some cycling. They have well-thought-out rumble strips which are immediately at the right edge of the motorized traffic lane (at or on the fog line), and do not impinge unnecessarily into the shoulder. They make cycling here more safe by separating cyclists from motorists, not less safe as the rumble strips in Cape Breton have by forcing cyclists off the shoulder and into the motorists lane.
It doesn’t take any more money to place rumble strips in a way that benefit both cyclists and motorists. It just requires a minimum of planning, and caring about cyclists in the first place. I’m really shocked and upset to hear that more rumble strips have been done, further ruining Cape Breton as a place to bicycle.
My understanding is that the mandate of TIR is not to make roads great places for motorists, but to make them safe for all road users. Does this type of action put TIR at risk for a lawsuit if a cyclist is to be injured while cycling in these areas that have clearly been made less safe for cycling by willful disregard to cyclists when placing these rumble strips? Certainly TIR has been warned many times, in writing, that this is a dangerous practice likely to result in injury or death.
Personally, this makes Cape Breton a less attractive place to stay and practice long term for my wife (a psychiatrist) and I (a family/ER doc). And as I allude to above more generally it makes Cape Breton a less appealing place both as a destination for cyclists “from away” and less encouraging for locals to cycle.
I hope that these can be undone/corrected but from the lack of action on my last complaint I am guessing it’s a “done deal” and once again the needs and voices of cyclists have been ignored.
Women on Wheels - Social
Loose Chain Links
Interesting articles in which we thought you, as a cyclist, may be interested.
- How to get your bike ready for spring.