Since I sold my beloved Skoda vRS back in the UK, I’ve been relying on both public transport and the bike to get around. So, when we arrived at our new place and were very kindly lent a bike each, I decided that I’d do my best to get around the city on two wheels. It’s only around 2 kilometres across Downtown Vancouver, and any way you go you’re going to hit water, so it shouldn’t be that difficult should it?
There are numerous cycle routes around the sea-wall which are an absolute pleasure to ride. In fact, one of the first things we did was grab the bikes and take a trip around the edges of Stanley Park, which covers the western end of the downtown peninsula, I could describe it to you, but I’m better at making cheesy videos of Nich riding it, so click on the video below to see what I mean when I say how pleasant it is.
Nich on her bike: She got scared of some squirrels later in the day
However, as soon as you get off the paths you run into a problem. This problem must be the same in any North American city…and Milton Keynes… the block system. You know the format, streets divided into one way grids with four lanes going across and two lanes going up and down. Every block has a set of traffic lights so you are guaranteed to have to stop every 300 yards to wait at a red light. Fine if you’re in a car or going down hill, but Vancouver has some fairly steep slopes rising from the sea, and losing momentum every 2 minutes is so frustrating, the residents of downtown will soon know me as Mr ‘F$%k**g lights!’, because that’s what I scream every time I get a red and have to brake. On top of this there’s the problem of having cars which aren’t so much cars as lorries with no lorry bits on them. I’m not kidding when I say i regularly see people driving around in what can only be described as ‘monster trucks’.
Couple of inches of travel on there, just in case you need to bring a tree home.
With such a huge difference between the gas guzzling mentality of the lumberjack, hockey loving types compared with the fresh-air-yoga-loving cyclists, and the fact that most of these people are quite used to driving 5 hours to go to the shops or whatever (that’s like a 3 day bike ride. Land’s End to John o’Groats territory), they’re not going to get very far with their road system and such a daft gap between the size of some cars and your push bike.
So, with the message that cycling is ‘one of Vancouver’s priorities’ ringing in my ears, I ride to and from my second job (broadcast and editing consultant no less! whatever next), I’ll stick to the sea wall as much as possible, and try not to get monster-trucked to death.