Cycling to Vancouver over the Fraser River using the Port Mann bridge
UPDATE: You can now safely cycle on the Port Mann bridge. Read the update story.
Can I cycle across the new Port Mann bridge to get to Vancouver?
Yes and no. Yes, you will be able to cycle across the Port Mann bridge in the year 2015. But no, you cannot cycle across it now. That’s because—even though the bridge is open to car traffic—it is still under construction and it’s a mess.
Facts on the bridge crossing are hard to find, so I set out from Vancouver with my bike on a rainy holiday Monday to see for myself:
Coming out of Vancouver, you can trim 20km off your trip by rolling your bike onto the Skytrain public transit and getting off at Braid Station. There’s no extra charge for the bike.
Heading east out of Braid Station, the Braid bridge was closed to cars but passable with a bike. You can partially avoid the narrow United Boulevard by riding south of the bike box stores on this quieter road.
To explore what options were available directly under the bridge, I turned onto Burbridge Street from United Boulevard, and followed the quiet road into Macquabek Park and boat launch. Basically, we’re heading east and following the Fraser River.
At Macquabeak Park, we get our first glimpse of the Port Mann bridge, looking south towards Surrey.
The entire area at the foot of the bridge is a construction zone but… you can still get through on your bike! I followed the “Pathway Detour” along the blue fencing to see where it detoured to. At this point we are right under the bridge but with no access to the bridge deck whatsoever. No signage, no path, no people, no problem! Let’s keep on rolling….
Bascially, you can wander the site. I followed the blue fence. In one direction, it goes north into a passageway and into the trails of Colony Farm. There is no bridge access over there, just a gravel path to the nasty Maryhill Bypass intersection. The intersection has rudimentary pedestrian crossings, but is a mess of construction debris, incomplete traffic islands, and confused drivers.
Back under the bridge looking south, the blue fence leads us towards the river, but then offers eastward passage along the river to eventually join up with Argue street and the Traboulay Trail along the Pitt River. I rolled around the site some more but saw no access to the bridge. And still no one to ask. I decided to backtrack on United Boulevard.
In a view east from the new King Edward bridge, you can see the train tracks and highway heading towards the Port Mann bridge. Cycling advocates at HUB would like to see a bike path along the train tracks. In the distance you can see the bridge transportation building. I decided to check it out.
The Transportation Management Centre is an approachable building with a bike rack. Surely they will have information about cycling over the Fraser River and the new Port Mann bridge…
An artist’s rendition of new Port Mann Bridge hangs in the entryway of the Transportation Management Centres. The painting clearly shows a pedestrian and cycle path on the east side of the bridge. Significantly, it doesn’t show any people on the path…
The lady at the Transportation Management Centre didn’t have information about a bike crossing of the Port Mann bridge. She gave me a phone number to call: 1-866-999-7641 or said to visit their website. All the website says is, “Once complete, the new 10-lane Port Mann Bridge will include a barrier-separated three-metre-wide cycling and pedestrian path located on the east side of the new bridge.” No details, though.