UPDATE: Cycling to Vancouver over the Fraser River on the Port Mann bridge
I’m happy to report that you can now safely and comfortably cycle and walk on the Port Mann bridge.
In February 2013 I posted photos and a ride report about my first, failed attempt. The new bridge links the cities of New Westminster, Burnaby, Coquitlam and Vancouver to the city of Surrey and the Fraser Valley beyond it. In 2013 my findings were that even though the newly-constructed bridge was open to car traffic, the bike route was still under construction and impassable for bicycles.
In 2016, I once again set out on my bike on to re-try the crossing. My goal was to cycle on to the Port Mann bridge from the western Coquitlam side, pedal over the Fraser River, and arrive on the Surrey side (see story, below the map).
From Vancouver, I got on the Skytrain public transit at VCC Station and caught the Millenium Line eastwards to the city of Coquitlam, where I got off at the Braid station. If you’d rather ride the 20 kilometres out of Vancouver, you can follow the Central Valley Greenway bike route.
The Skytrain Braid station in Coquitlam. There’s no extra charge for bringing the bike on the train.
In 2016, the Braid River bridge has been widened and improved. To the left of the road you can see a separated bike path safe for cyclists of all ages.
After you cross the Braid River bridge, you can still partially avoid the narrow United Boulevard by riding south of the bike box stores on quieter Hartley Avenue.
Some maps had indicated that you could access the bike route from this intersection at United Boulevard and Fawcett Road in Coquitlam, BC. However, I didn’t see one and the bike route indicated by this sign guides you back westward, the direction you just came from. Instead, I continued east on United Boulevard.
From United Boulevard, I turned once again turned right onto Burbridge Street and followed the quiet road into Macquabek Park and boat launch. Basically, we’re heading east and following the Fraser River.
In Macquabek Park under the Port Mann bridge, it’s STILL a construction zone. There is no signage guiding cyclists.
View of the Port Mann bridge and Fraser River from a boat launch on the northern, Coquitlam side.
One old path next to the Fraser River leads to dyke and cycling trails along the Pitt River, but not the Port Mann bridge crossing.
A bit further along, there’s a bicycle tunnel under the Mary Hill bypass. It leads east to the Colony Farm Regional Park, but not the Port Mann bridge crossing.
A new gravel road guides offers passage under the Port Mann bridge. I follow it towards United Boulevard, where I see an intersection and hints of a bike route sign.
At the intersection of United Boulevard and the Mary Hill bypass on-ramp, a signpost points the way to the Port Mann bridge. Notice that it directs you to Highway 1 but not not actually say “Port Mann Bridge bicycle crossing” or similar.
On the Coquitlam side, the bicycle entry ramp does a switch-back up to the Port Mann Bridge deck. This cyclist is coming from the other side of the bridge, from the city of Surrey.
Now on the start of the bridge, we can look down on the entire intersection of United Boulevard with the entry to the bike path (left) and the entry to the Mary Hill bypass (right). That’s Highway 7B straight ahead. It joins the Mary Hill bypass.
Mid-span on the bicycle path on the Port Mann bridge. Fraser River, BC. This is how the bike path looks looking south towards the city of Surrey. The path is wide and smooth, and feels safely separated from the vehicle traffic by a solid wall of concrete. The traffic kicks up a lot of dust, so it’s a good idea to wear sunglasses or clear riding glasses.
Pausing at the mid-point of the bridge, the view of mountains, the historic Fraser River, and log floats is spectacular. It’s easy to stop, take in the view, and take photos. I think the ride was worth it for this view…one that vehicles can’t enjoy in the same way.
We’re still mid-span on the bicycle route of Port Mann bridge, this time looking back in the direction from which we came — towards Coquitlam and Vancouver.
We’re now at the other end of the Port Mann bridge at the Surrey side, looking back. There’s lots of signage if you’ve come from Surrey.
On the Surrey side, I was very impressed to see a sign for a Neighbourhood Bike Route to Surrey Central (map, PDF). It’s a 5-kilometre neighbourhood cycling route that follows local roads between the Port Mann Bridge and downtown Surrey. From Surrey Central, you can either roll your bicycle onto a Skytrain back into Vancouver, to explore one of Surrey’s many bike routes.