12/04/2013 16:09 EST | Updated 02/03/2014 05:59 EST

New bike bridge in Surrey divides a community

The City of Surrey’s plan to build a five-kilometre cycling route linking City Centre to the new Port Mann bridge — in particular, a new bicycle bridge over Bon Accord Creek near 143 Street and 110 Avenue — is not sitting well with some residents.

Some of those living near the ravine in North Surrey where the 200-foot-long cycling and pedestrian bridge is slated to be built worry about its safety – both the threat of neighbouring trees falling down and injuring somebody, and the risk the new span will bring unwanted criminal elements into their neighbourhood.

"See the height of these trees? Some of them are 100 feet,” says Ron Winbow, whose backyard cascades deep into Bon Accord Creek.

“The bridge is in the shadow of those trees. What happens if one of them comes down? It's goodbye bridge and anyone that's on it."

Kevin Preston also lives on the edge of the ravine, but for him the big worry is crime.

“RCMP have stated that it would open up what they consider to be rat traffic,” says Preston.

“That's their terminology — that it will allow the unsavoury to move from one neighbourhood to the next.”

Long-overdue improvement

Philip Bellefontaine, Surrey’s transportation planning manager, prefers to look at the big picture — and for him, the cycling path is a long overdue improvement to the city’s infrastructure.

“It takes full advantage of some of the quieter roads through there, and provides that community for the first time a safe and properly signed connection to the city centre,” says Belfontaine.  

He notes that the city is looking to future demand in building the bridge and pathway.

“It’s like a lot of things in Surrey – it’s coming. I think with the development of our city centre, we’re seeing the densities in there. We’re seeing cycling on the rise, so we think this will very much complement that.”

The city hopes to starting clearing way for the route this winter, and have both the bridge and pathway built by the end of next summer. The total cost is $2 million, with half of that coming from the province as part of the Gateway Project.