mappingSFU geography student Josh Cairns surveys potential bike hazards on the Sea to Sky Highway.

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Map highlights biking hazards

enroute to Whistler

April 04, 2012
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Cyclists setting out to ride the 120-km Sea to Sky Highway between Horsebay and Whistler, BC can check out hazardous areas on a new map developed by a group of fourth-year SFU geography students. An accompanying study details various safety issues such as road-shoulder width, drainage, road maintenance and signage.

The map itemizes 20 different hazards along the winding mountainside route, including road-shoulder widths as narrow as 38 cm, drain grates with openings wider than bike tires, poor road and marker maintenance, and a lack of signage for motorists or directions for bikers using intersections.

The students, some of whom are avid cyclists, began the Geography 455 project in January, driving the route several times and stopping to note hazards, then cycling the route to assess it from the cyclist’s perspective.

They met with the North Shore Area Cycling Coalition to hear members’ concerns, brought their project to the attention of the provincial and federal governments, and also contacted organizers of the GranFondo Whistler cycling event. The one-day event attracts thousands of cyclists to the route.

“I enjoyed doing a project involving real fieldwork and with a public component,” says student Michael Gamon. “It was a change from being in the classroom taking notes and doing tests.”

The students’ interactive map also recommends mitigation measures that could improve cyclist safety.

To view the Sea to Sky Highway Cycling Safety study and map: http://www.sfu.ca/~abrear/.

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