Cycling across the Big Orange Bridge and on to Harrop or Balfour or even Kaslo is a beautiful experience. It is highly scenic cycling and quite popular. Of course, it is an excellent way to become and stay fit and healthy in all respects. This is especially true in these COVID times when many more people are cycling; one can be out there in fresh, clean air while avoiding virus transmission very well.
However, it is scary to cycle some sections of the North Shore on Highway 3A. Traffic can be heavy, and the road is winding. This would still be OK if the shoulders were in good condition. Most sections are adequate to excellent; wide shoulders with no gravel and tiptop asphalt. The contrary is also true; shoulders as narrow as 20 inches or less (for safe cycling shoulders should be four feet wide). The shoulder asphalt in places is severely broken, and sunken water drains the width of the shoulder occur.
But even worse, some sections had years of several inches thick soil/sod and grass buildup over the shoulder asphalt covering up to two-thirds of the already narrow shoulders. Such sections are up to 150 feet long. When you come upon such bad sections, one is forced to cross the white line and ride in the motor vehicle traffic/travelled lane. Cyclists have, of course, the right to cycle in that lane, but it is obviously dangerous to do so. When you suddenly have to cross the white line and cars, and big trucks, come from behind at 80 km/h, then it is life-threatening.
Recently YRB was doing maintenance work on the North Shore, and I want to thank and congratulate them. Most sections were cleared of this heavy soil buildup by grading/scraping it off and then sweeping it. It is now so much more pleasant and safe to cycle these cleared sections. The large and ever-growing Nelson cycling community will increasingly cycle this and other Kootenay highways.
Cycling along highways should be pleasant and safe for cyclists of all ages and abilities; young, strong adults but equally seniors, children and disabled citizens. Thank you again YRB, and also the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure for the great work they have done.