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

Just Posted

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

Biologists discover another female calf in depleted South Purcell Mountain Caribou herd

Calf will be moved to Revelstoke maternity pens, then released

Man seriously hurt after police shooting near Nelson

Incident has been reported to provincial police watchdog

Reduced spring service planned for Kootenay Lake ferry

Expected low lake levels is the reason for the longer wait times

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Workshop with ‘accent reduction’ training cancelled at UBC

The workshop was cancelled the same day as an email was sent out to international students

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

Avalanche control planned tomorrow on Highway 1

The highway will be closed in the morning east of Revelstoke

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Most Read