Cycling advocate joins race for Maple Ridge council

Alex Pope

Alex Pope

After two years chairing the bicycle advisory committee, Alex Pope wants to get on to Maple Ridge council and continue to improve the plight of pedallers.

Pope, a part-time computer programmer who bikes to work in Vancouver two days week (one and three-quarter hours each way), says progress in creating cycling paths in Maple Ridge has been spotty.

Too many gaps exist between cycling paths that provide a safe route away from cars.

After reading the Official Community Plan,  he was impressed by the goals of having residents well-served by transit and infrastructure to support active transportation, like cycling and walking.

“Unfortunately, we do not seem to be making sufficient progress in making this a reality. A significant number of Maple Ridge residents have no transit service directly available to them and the cycling infrastructure that currently exists suffers from gaps that discourage people from using it.”

While cycling is his first priority (he wants to increase the one per cent of the roads budget that’s allotted to cycling infrastructure), he also wants to improve transit and points out there are some areas in Maple Ridge where transit doesn’t even reach, such as Silver Valley.

“You have to drive out of Silver Valley to do anything.”

While motorists complain about another two-cent-a-litre tax on gasoline to fund the Evergreen Line SkyTrain line in Coquitlam, he points out that TransLink pays for the road projects in Metro Vancouver, as well.

The West Coast Express is great, but that runs only during rush hour, he adds.

Pope says he’s politically non-aligned and agrees and disagrees with policies from all parties. He promotes shopping locally, supports the Haney Farmer’s Market and preserving the Agricultural Land Reserve and continuing to focus development on Maple Ridge’s downtown.

“The best way to improve our local economy is to spend our money locally.”

He’s hesitant about what to do with the Albion flats, the subject of a decade of planning and debate. A council proposal for development of the ALR land is currently before the Agricultural Land Commission.

If the commission approves that, the District of Maple Ridge may be committed to the plan. “So what’s done is done.” Whenever possible, though, he wants to preserve farmland and promote farming and eco-tourism.

Pope admits it’s going to be a challenge to defeat the incumbents on council who have name recognition.

One of his goals is to have a plan created, at least on the drawing board, for a major, multi-use trail in Maple Ridge that can be used by hikers, rollerbladers, walkers, and recreational and commuter cyclists.

He points to the 24-kilometre Central Valley Greenway that runs from New Westminster to Vancouver, giving joggers and cyclists a protected route most of the way. Another example is the 60-km Galloping Goose Trail, connecting Sooke to Victoria.

Even Pitt Meadows has an off-road bike path south of Lougheed Highway, east of the Pitt River Bridge.

“There are lots of good examples to follow.”