The Lochside Trail and Filming By Bike

The Lochside Trail

It was a late summer night and I was biking to Victoria along a rough, wooded path on part of the Lochside Trail in rural Saanich. My bike light provided a wan glow that shuddered with every bump on the murky path below me. It must have been around midnight. I'd caught the last ferry from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay and I was concentrating as hard as I could to go as fast as I safely could.

All of sudden, there was a heavy rustling from the bushes up ahead and a large animal leaped out at me just as I was passing by, brushing my side. I don't know who was more startled, me or the deer, but for what seemed like a brilliant few seconds the creature turned and bounded along beside me in the dark before crashing noisily back into the darkness from whence it had come.

It's an extreme example, but a good example of how travelling by bike brings you closer to your surroundings. For a filmmaker, especially someone who didn't really know the lay of the land, a bike makes a very useful vehicle for reconnaissance. I knew that Southern Vancouver Island was a hotbed of environmentalism not just in the province of British Columbia but the whole of Canada - this is where Elizabeth May made her historic breakthrough to become the first Green Party of Canada's Member of Parliament (for Saanich-Gulf Islands) in 2011. Biking through it, helped me to appreciate why.

I've used the 29km Lochside Trail between the Swartz Bay ferry terminal and downtown Victoria extensively while filming Running On Climate. I've also loaded the bike onto the express bus that takes around an hour between the ferry terminal and Victoria, but on a warm summer day (or evening), it's hard to resist the call of the trail with its fascinating mix of urban, suburban, and rural landscapes.

There's another reason I like riding the Lochside Trail: I've found the two-hour or so ride from Victoria to the ferry is a perfect way to mentally digest and sift the events I filmed over the previous few days.

So far, most of Running On Climate has been "filmed by bike", as well as transit and the occasional car share (usually when filming the occupants). I have managed to shrink my personal belongings and film kit - a camera, four lenses, audio recorder, microphones, tripod and tripod head - into a size that I can transport easily by two wheels, using a combination of backpack and paniers. I'd like to say that I'm doing it so I can say that I have a low carbon footprint. Well, that's true and something that's in keeping with the low-emissions spirit of Running On Climate.

But there's also a creative and a financial incentive as well. Combining a bike with public transit I can get to pretty much anywhere in the city, and often get quickly into more inaccessible places such as in public parks or half way across bridges. I can stop quickly on a whim, to film or investigate something.

There's, of course, the fact that I'm on a micro-budget and biking is cheap. It does take over four to five hours to travel between Vancouver and Victoria by public transit and bike, but it's a pleasant way to travel.

As you can see...

Here's a couple of short video clips from the Lochside Trail. The first is lower resolution as I filmed it for sending by email. The second clip I decided it was too darn pretty to not go full HD.

Video one - Parts of the Lochside Trail between Swartz Bay and Saanich

Clip two - Saanich (high resolution)

Here's a Google map of the Lochside Trail from the ferry to downtown Victoria

View Lochside Trail - Victoria, BC to North Saanich, BC in a larger map