“If I can bicycle, I bicycle.” David Attenborough
Vancouver is a great city for cycling, particularly in the downtown area where there are separated bike lanes on some of the roads and a couple of awesome bike paths. Last week, I wrote about cycling the Seawall in Stanley Park, which is a great family ride and easy for all levels of cyclist. This week, I’m continuing the ride to English Bay, False Creek, Granville Island, Gastown, Canada Place and Coal Harbour. My ride was about 30 km (including the Stanley Park loop). It could’ve been longer, but I did a couple of ferry trips on False Creek, just for the fun of it.
Once you’ve cycled around Stanley Park and reached the junction for the Lost Lagoon to the left, stay to the right and the bike path continues alongside the picturesque English Bay. About halfway along the beach there is a stone Inukshuk, which is an Inuit sign of welcome and was the inspiration for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games logo.
At Hornby Street, you’ll come to the first Aquabus stop. These iconic little rainbow-coloured ferries take passengers to various points of interest on False Creek. Not all of them take bikes, but the Cyquabus does (along with strollers and wheelchairs). It’s the most fun way to get to Granville Island, which was next on my itinerary.
I’ve been to Granville Island on many occasions – to see a theatre show, to browse in the art galleries, to shop at the Public Market with my brother at Christmas time, and to hang out in the waterfront courtyard listening to buskers. It’s one of my favourite places in Vancouver, and it’s so easy to while away the hours there. On this day, I took about an hour to enjoy lunch while watching some canoeists and kayakers on False Creek.
From here, I took another Cyquabus to the Spyglass (under the Cambie Bridge) before continuing my ride through the Olympic Village and past Science World. This is where the False Creek inlet ends so the trail continues on the opposite shore (and you can cycle back to where you started). I rode past Rogers Arena, where I’ve been to see the Vancouver Canucks play ice hockey, and BC Place, a multi-purpose stadium that was used during the Winter Olympics. The route also takes you past the trendy Yaletown, which was once a warehouse district and is now chock full of great restaurants and cafes.
Back at Hornby Street, I took the opportunity to cycle down one of Vancouver’s separated bike lanes. These have apparently caused a bit of controversy and are not particularly popular with drivers (including my brother), but I love it when a city embraces the bike. More bikes mean less cars and less pollution; it also means a healthier life for those who do chose to get on their bikes. If only all cities would include more cycling infrastructure in their planning.
The bike path runs right along Hornby Street to W Hastings Street where you turn left, and then right into Burrard Street for one block down to Canada Place and the waterfront. A block to the right is Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest downtown neighbourhood. It’s worth locking the bike up and having a wander along the cobblestoned streets, stopping for afternoon tea at one of the many eateries. This is where you’ll find the famous Steam Clock and, for my fellow-Supernatural fans, many of the dark alleys and laneways filmed in the show (see my previous blog about Supernatural locations).
From Canada Place, it’s a lovely ride back down to Coal Harbour and Stanley Park.
Do you have a favourite bike ride in Vancouver? So far I’ve only cycled in the downtown area. But I’m keen to discover more trails on my next visit.