B.C. man, 71, builds bike that can glide along unused railroad

Island Corridor Foundation says rail use not permitted on active railroad

Seeing a potential for the unused E&N rail line on Vancouver Island, a Parksville resident has built a recreational rail bike to ride along the tracks of the once functioning railroad.

Russell Ramsden, 71, said he found plans for the Bentley Railbike while scanning the internet. He built the attachments for the bike using wood and metal and added an outrigger on the left side of the bike that attaches to the opposite track for balance.

“It’s just a bicycle with an attachment on the front,” Ramsden said. “I was interested in building this because the railroad bed is maximum a one-per-cent grade, so that’s pretty flat. I thought this would be a kind of cool way to look around and see what’s around here that you can’t see from the road.”

He said riding the bike along the railroad is surprisingly easy.

“It does glide very well,” he said. “The one down side… there’s a fair bit of growth on the tracks in certain areas which is really too bad. (The bike) has a little cow catcher on the front which pushes stuff out of the way. When you hit some broom or something it’s pretty tough stuff.”

Ramsden said he gets a lot of his creative ideas from the Oceanside MakerSpace group. The group holds an open house on Wednesday’s from 6- 9 p.m. downstairs in the McMillian Art Centre.

RELATED: New Parksville club provides space for hobbyists and artisans

“I joined because there is a lot of creative people there,” Ramsden said.

Ramsden, who is a former college woodwork teacher, is in the works of making another railbike for his wife and is also planning on making a four-person bike.

“That railroad is just sitting there, it has such a huge potential,” he said. “All our politicians don’t seem to be able to reach an agreement with what to do with that. I’ve been thinking about the possibility of, once I get the four-seater bike done, possibly thinking about a tourist attraction using the rails if we can get permissions.”

“If you look up rail parks online you’ll see there are lots of areas where there are abandoned rail lines where they’re being used for tourism.”

Ramsden has not yet received permission from the Island Corridor Foundation (ICF) to ride along the tracks.

“I’m sure (getting permission) would take forever. (The ICF) had seven years to do something with it. Why can’t we use it and get some use out of it? Ramsden said. “I think we need people on the respective governments with some vision that can see the bigger picture.”

Ramsden believes it will be “a matter of liability” if the ICF contact him about his railbike.

Phil Kent, co-chair of the ICF, said the rail is private property and still considered active.

“There could be maintenance vehicles moving up and down the rail. I would suggest that (a railbike) is not safe and it’s certainly not an approved use,” Kent said. He said that people who want to access the rail should go through the ICF.

“They would be referred to the rail operators who are responsible ultimetey for safety and liability on the rail,” Kent said. “It’s not that somebody couldn’t get permission to use the rail but there’s a process for that.”

Send story tips: karly.blats@pqbnews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Haida Gwaii libraries launch new ‘takeout’ curbside pickup service

As of June 5, cardholders can once again access physical copies of books, DVDs and more

Blacktail Haida Gwaii working to reopen with new covered patio

Chef-owner Edi Szasz hopes to reopen on June 25, the one-year anniversary of the restaurant

Skidegate daycare staff recognized for creative care during COVID-19

Staff have been using social media to share isolation activities, read stories and sing songs

Village of Queen Charlotte approves business facade improvement grants

Applications from Gather, dental clinic, A Level Up approved, leaving about $14,000 up for grabs

Recycling services in Queen Charlotte, Port Clements expanding next week

Residential plastics will be accepted again, but most residential transfer stations remain closed

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

‘Great Regional Air Hug’ being organized by the Vanderhoof International Airshow Society

A multi-aircraft flyover over the region is being planned for August 15.

Plan in place for BC Ferries to start increasing service levels

Ferry corporation reaches temporary service level agreement with province

B.C. starts to see employment return under COVID-19 rules

Jobless rate for young people still over 20% in May

Most Read