I went for a short run in New Westminster last night and decided to stay on pavement because the boardwalk I like to run on looked very slippery in the rain. I looked at the map and decided to run up a bit of New West’s main drag and then back along Front St., which runs along the water.
Hey, I like water. Water has views and all sorts of good, peaceful, after-work evening happiness. And bridges, too. Who can pass up a chance to run under road and rail and Skytrain bridges a few times? That’s really cool.
Wrong-o. After a steady climb up through a tired business district, I descended into hell. Traffic on Columbia northbound was creeping and the sidewalk I was on suddenly disappeared. In the half-light, I stumbled into a tangle of gorse with exactly no shoulder between me and the cars. I found myself scratched up and bleeding, frightened, and trapped on the side of the road with nowhere to go.
Then, a honk from a semi idling down the hill. I was annoyed, figuring the driver was mocking me for being in such a pickle, but when I looked up, he waved into an empty spot he had created in the lane in front of him and gestured me into line. I ended up hammering down Columbia at the pace of traffic, this gigantic truck maintaining a safe space for me to occupy. I am ever so grateful to this man for helping me out.
When I hit Front St and turned around, I was all ready to be happily running a riverfront, only to find that it’s two lanes, no shoulder, no sidewalk, bounded by gorse on one side and rail on the other. Fortunately, I was now running in the nearly empty southbound lane while northbound traffic idled across from me. I pounded along the whole way back to the city, whose waterfront streetscape was stacked under a 60’s-era elevated parking structure that makes it more reminiscent of the Blues Brothers’ Chicago flophouse neighbourhood than a heritage retail district. Poor New Westminster.
Anyway, I will never, ever run that route again and plan to take advantage of the improving after-work light to find some better routes in New West’s parks.
And thank you again, Mr. Truck Driver.