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

France doubles up Croatia 4-2 to win World Cup

Played in Moscow Russia, latest Fifa World Cup marks the highest scoring final since 1966

Drivesmart column: No playing in the street!

The residential street we lived on was treated as an extension of the front yard

Jitney tradition marks Canada Day

About half CLBC’s membership takes part

Robert Barron column: Being a reporter sometimes pays off

About 15 years ago, I was randomly picked for jury duty in Nanaimo.

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Coming up in Cowichan: Boots full of treasure, Dementia workshop, MP’s town hall meeting

Celebrating five years at the Station with ‘Loot in the Boot’ Cowichan… Continue reading

Cowichan Coffee Time: Mounties partner with CTRA, plus bursaries

• Cowichan Spirit of Women has accomplished a lot in the Valley… Continue reading

Former NHL goalie Ray Emery drowns in Lake Ontario

Police say the 35-year-old’s death appears to be a ‘case of misadventure’

Air quality statement warns of smoky air for Kamloops area

Environment ministry says area on north side of Thompson River may be affected by wildfire smoke

Pussy Riot claims on-field protest at World Cup final

Russian protest group claimed responsibility after four people ran onto field in police uniforms

Fans party on Montreal streets after French World Cup win

To city is home to nearly 57,000 French nationals

B.C. VIEWS: Making private health care illegal again

Adrian Dix battles to maintain Cuba-style medical monopoly

Almost every part of Canada’s largest national park deteriorating: federal study

Drawing on decades of research — the report lists 50 pages of citations

Most Read