For 25 years when he worked at Courtenay Physiotherapy, Comox resident Gordon McIlroy cycled to work each day — which meant a daily climb up the hill on Dyke Road.
Gord recently relocated to Bodyworx Physiotherapy in Comox, but his wife Shirley continues to enjoy the ride on her pedal to work in Courtenay.
“It’s a beautiful, scenic ride,” McIlroy said, noting the challenges presented by south eastern winds. “They blow you in like a sail.
“A lot of deer on that hill. That’s a point I would always say to people: Watch that corner coming around going downhill. That’s a major corridor. I’ve had deer surprise me there. They’re within a couple of feet, and they stand like a statue. That adds a component of watchfulness.”
While noting some improvements to cycling infrastructure in the Comox Valley, McIlroy feels we need more of a commitment to the safety of the bike lane.
“I think putting the bike lanes and the lines on the road is a step. It’s better than not having it …. I’d say I’m a fairly experienced rider, and I’m not as comfortable as riding that road as I used to be, just because of the volume of traffic.”
Overall, however, he feels Dyke Road is good because the margin is fairly wide and there are not an abundance of vehicles coming at the rider from right angles.
“That’s the most dangerous thing in many ways for a cyclist, any time they have someone intersecting them from the side.”
Dyke Road could be improved with an even wider margin.
“If you could give it a bit more space and safety for the average rider, I think we could encourage more people (to ride).”
But he recognizes the jurisdictional complications associated with the road. Take cycling downhill, for instance. Comox does a good job of cleaning grit and gravel, but when riders hit the halfway mark, they hit the boundary in Area B, and it becomes a “gravel pit.”
“Certainly the widening would be an excellent thing, and the cleaning of that road a little more often, that would encourage people. Because you’ve got to be kind of hardcore to be doing it all winter long.
“It makes sense from an economical, as well as a fitness point of view too,” McIlroy added. “It kept us down to one vehicle.”