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

Fires highlight need for more volunteers

Short-staffed volunteer fire departments in Elk Valley, South Country rely on mutual aid

Motorcyclist grateful to be alive, thanks fellow drivers

Over a dozen people stopped to assist Lori Hann after she tumbled off her bike on Hwy 3, Saturday

Local athletes ready for BC Summer Games

Twenty-four athletes from the Elk Valley and South Country will compete at the 2018 BC Summer Games.

GearHub staff staying positive after fire

Sporting goods store to fully reopen by end of July

UPDATE: New lead narrows the search for Serval cat

UPDATE, July 17: A new lead has narrowed the search for Aquila… Continue reading

Here’s what you need to know about Day 1 at the BC Games

All 18 events kick off on the track, riding ring, fields, courts and lake in the Cowichan Valley

The Free Press editor wins awards

Editor Phil McLachlan has been recognized at the 2018 Canadian Community Newspaper Awards.

One home lost in Wycliffe grass fire

RDEK rescinds remaining evacuation orders for three properties

VIDEO: How to throw a frisbee

Ultimate frisbee player Amy Mackay shows off the proper technique

Site C dam project plagued by problems: expert

E. Harvey Elwin expresses concern about internal BC Hydro and government documents

Seal attacks kayakers in the Broughton Archipelago

“It has to be one chance in a million of this happening.”

Victoria-area park sign removed after glitch redirects to porn site

Resident looking to learn more about workout equipment discovered the problem code

Special Olympic athletes take on BC Games during special anniversary

Known as the Global Day of Inclusion, July 20 marks the first Special Olympics in 1968 in Chicago

Scammers dressed as Mounties threaten to arrest senior if she doesn’t cough up cash

Pair of fraudulent officers threaten to arrest 90-year-old woman

Most Read