One thing I hear consistently in Mission is that 'there are too many hills for cyclists'. This is usually used as an argument against investing in cycling infrastructure - the theory being that as there are hills, no one will ride bikes up them. While hills can be a challenge to be sure, they are simply that - a challenge that can be overcome in a variety of ways. The size and strength of the cycling community in the legendarily hilly San Francisco is a testament to cyclists abilities to overcome the hills - both literal and figurative. The first ever Critical Mass ride took place in San Fran in 1992 and has since spread to the rest of the world - including here in Mission BC!.
Here are some ideas on how we can flatten the hill of our Mission to the benefit of cyclists:
MissionCyclistsDoHills. While the hills are a challenge, they are not insurmountable. The cyclists of Mission do climb the hills and the ones that do it regularly have some tricks and routes that help manage the gain of elevation without excess effort. You can go for a power climb straight up Alder/Birch/Grand/James if you are feeling like setting your hamstrings on fire. But if you want to gain the elevation for your trip to Cedar Valley in a more manageable way, the bike routes on Stave Lake St./Topper/Best and Hurd/Caribou/Best are good ways to gain the grade.
Another way is hopping a bus shuttle. All transit buses are equipped with bike racks on the front. Riding down the hill from the Ferndale area to downtown for a coffee with a friend is an exciting ride! The way back - catch the 34 or 40 from downtown and they will get you all the way to Cherry - the top of the hill!
One related and progressive way for the District to promote this option would be to create dedicated bus shuttle stops. These would be two stops at - one at the bottom and one at the top of a large section of grade - where a cyclist can hop the bus for free. Say one at 3rd and Stave Lake St and the next one at Stave Lake St. & 7th. This allows them to use the bus to flatten the hill, while still earning their turns on the flatter sections. Want a ride the entire way? Pay the bus fare. The free aspect of the bus shuttle can remove that barrier to entry and entice cyclists that are already using their pedal power to get around to take advantage of the bus that is already climbing the hill as part of their normal route.
The current trend to flatten hills - eBikes. Now it is important to note that eBikes aren't cheap and suggesting that every cyclist in Mission get one would be not very sensible, but the technology is creating new services that could be imported to Mission - a dockless bike share service like Jump - to allow casual cyclists access to eBikes. Most bike share services have an issue where the bikes tend to 'pool up' at the bottom of hills as cyclists love to borrow them down, but less so up. eBikes flip that upside down and I think that a fleet of 20-30 eBikes for Mission with charge stations downtown, at the Leisure Centre and at City Hall - just like the electric car charging stations - would allow users the ability to get up and down the hills with ease.
The final (and important to note exotic, expensive and not being advocated for) way - bike escalators. Maybe one like this running up James street. Or one like this next to the stairs to Central Elementary. They wouldn't be cheap, but they sure would be fun.
This post is intended to highlight that while there are hills in Mission, that is simply an obstacle to overcome, not a reason to stop advocating for cycling. See you at the top of the climb.
The Mission Community Cycling Coalition is a group of groups. There are several organizations that represent the various types of two-wheeled pursuits in Mission. This is a home for them all, and a place for the advocacy efforts for transportation as well.