Biking on PEI – What to know before you go
I just returned from a weeklong trip to Prince Edward Island. On my PEI vacation, I was pretty keen to rent a bike and see the island from behind the handlebars instead of from behind the steering wheel of my parent’s car.
I rented a bike for the week from MacQueen’s in Charlottetown. At first, they showed me a nice sporty hybrid, but I find having my body weight on my wrists troublesome, so I chose a more upright 8-speed bike – perfect for the Confederation Trail. After riding it 10km from Charlottetown to Winsloe, it was clear someone had previously rented it and not reported odd clicking noises upon its return. Since I was renting a non-road bike, maybe the previous renter was used to having a creaky bike and didn’t even notice. I did, though. I rode back to the shop and swapped it for its twin. This time, I test rode it around the parking lot first. And had the same problem!
Tip: When renting bikes, don’t ride off before doing a few minutes of test riding first.
I decided to go with the initial offering of the sporty hybrid with flat bars and bar ends. It would do. Or as @auxonic quoted “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.”
In fact, it did quite well. It wasn’t a bad bike at all – although, my wrists weren’t always happy with the decision. Thank goodness for bar ends!
While on the Island, I did four different rides using a mix of trails, roads, and a pinch of segregated bike lanes:
Biking infrastructure on PEI hasn’t really evolved much since I lived there. Although, the province is being more proactive to promote the Confederation Trail (a rail to trail pathway) for cycling tourism. In fact, their trail guide is quite well done – noting food, attractions, rest stops, camping and motels along the route.
Finding information about biking outside of the Confederation Trail is more difficult. There are “active living” trails (AKA shared-use pathways) but they don’t really link up with destinations or trails to form a continuous network. (Here’s the map of the trails.) There are some roads in Charlottetown with a signed and painted bike lane on the shoulder; however, at least two of these (Mt Edward Road and Belvedere Avenue) are not noted on the previous map.
The PEI government website has a list of roads with paved shoulders for cyclists.
One of two cycling routes to the north shore has been completed in the form of a paved shoulder on Route 25. Sadly, I didn’t see this “lane” noted in any tourism brochures or websites. It’ll also be five years before they complete the second route that gets cyclists to the Cavendish area. The Route 25 lanes do not appear on the province’s list of paved road shoulders.
Finding biking information is a bit hit and miss.
For the bike tourers
There are many “share the road” signs in the absence of bike lanes. Although, most people I saw on bikes opted for the sidewalk where available.
There are also six “bike loops” that are identified on the Charlottetown city website ranging from 53km to 110km rides.
The bike shop equipped me with a cable lock for my rental bike (which retails for about $1000). I was pretty nervous using it – I am a solid U-lock “don’t steal my bike” gal. But bike theft doesn’t seem to be an issue.
As I toured the island, I ended up seeing the reason behind using the cable lock – there are very few standard bike racks. As a result, I locked the bike up to trees, lampposts and street signs. I was glad to have the long cable to reach around awkward dimensions. A U-lock would have made locking at many places difficult.
Overall, for city riding, I found biking into and around Charlottetown not terrible where a shoulder was available, but most roads have no shoulder area and often have deep sunken drains. You really need to keep your eyes on the road to avoid these and keep far from the curb area.
Despite my hesitations of biking on shoulderless roads, I managed well enough on quieter routes. Drivers were courteous and passed with plenty of room. Nonetheless, I’d have felt more comfortable choosing routes that had shoulders as a minimum.