Friday, October 10, 2014

Bicycling Vancouver, B.C.: Easy Does It

When in Vancouver, B.C., be sure and have a bicycle ready to ride. What a great way to see this gorgeous city and get some good exercise!

On a recent weekend road trip from Seattle to Vancouver, we decided to bring bicycles.  Wise choice. Vancouver has it all over Seattle as a bicycle friendly city, with well-established and safe bike lanes.

 From the English Bay Bed & Breakfast where we stayed and had the indulgent breakfast shown below (splurge, but nice), we bicycled over 20 miles around the city all day on Saturday, with multiple stops to eat and take pictures.

While we couldn't find a bicycle trail map, the trails were easy to find and well-marked.  From our B&B, we hopped just two blocks down to the Seawall that extends 22 kilometers along most of the waterfront in the West End.

Our first stop was Granville Island after crossing False Creek on the Burrard Street Bridge. Sure it's tourist Grand Central, like Pike Place Market in Seattle, but it's fun to see the gorgeous food stalls and enjoy the waterfront.

Granville Market

Then we headed west up Fourth Avenue (and then up side streets) all the way out the Westside/Point Grey Peninsula to UBC (University of British Columbia) to visit the Museum of Anthropology. The going was very pleasant, with some mild uphills through leafy, prosperous residential neighborhoods, and a great viewpoint park.

Looking back east towards the West End from  Point Grey area
Looking north toward North Vancouver and Coast Range beyond

We calculated about 4 or 5 miles out to the UBC campus, with several hundred feet in gradual elevation gain. After a great visit to the museum, we meandered back to Broadway for a tasty lunch along this busy street.

Then we cut back to the West End across the Burrard Street Bridge again, with a safe and well-traveled bicycle/pedestrian lane on each side of the bridge. Of course we had to stop for the views.

Because we'd only been out for 5 hours :) and it was a gorgeous day, we decided to continue on around Stanley Park on the Seawall. Not too far along we discovered that bicycles can only travel counterclockwise on the trail. With the  help of a friendly well-situated local, we managed to cut across the middle of the park and get to the other side to continue bicycling.

In the woods, Stanley Park

I can't get over the nonstop glorious scenery along this trail. As we rounded Brockton Point (and a wild party in progress) over to the Burrard Inlet side, the trail traffic thinned out a bit.  We had to stop several times to take pictures.

Looking across Burrard Inlet to North Vancouver
Occasionally along the trail at higher-traffic spots, bicyclists are required to dismount and walk, and sometimes the trail is not very wide. But it's one-way, so no worries.

Lion's Gate Bridge
The high and narrow Lion's Gate Bridge span always scares me a little bit to drive across (like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge too). Call it a healthy fear of heights. But no problem bicycling beneath it along the Seawall.

After winding around to the western, English Bay side of the seawall, we slowed down and savoured the end of this scenic day of good exercise.

The next day we hopped on our bikes again and cycled along the Seawall down to Yaletown and then back through the heart of the West End back to English Bay. Very pleasant, very easy, very safe.

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When You Go 
Here is a link to an official City of Vancouver cycling map; however, we bypassed some trails on the Westside to travel along quiet residential streets. If you don't bring your own bicycle, it's easy to rent one. We stopped by English Bay Bike Rentals to ask about maps, and they were very helpful.


JoJo said...

You had gorgeous weather for your trip. My one and only time in Vancouver it was grey and foggy till my last day, which was the one I spent in N. Vancouver. Overall I was pretty disappointed.

jill said...

Hey JoJo, Too bad you didn't have great weather or enjoy Vancouver, it's such a beautiful and interesting city. Maybe you can make it back some day. cheers!