Bicycling Across Vancouver

Heather Bikeway

Despite the gray skies, heavy drizzle, and cold temperature, yesterday I got on my bike determined to explore Vancouver’s bikeways, with my end result being the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, suggested by one of my hosts.

First, I had a fistful of US Dollars, and needed some Canada money. Using my Vancouver bikeways map, I plotted out what looked like an easy ride from the house I am at near Commercial Drive and Broadway, to a money exchange place on W Broadway. Most of this way involved the Tenth Avenue bikeway, aka “Off-Broadway.”

Bikeway Signal Crossing
Press the button at major intersections!

Once I exchanged $50 USD for $59.05 Canadian, I got the map back out again and plotted a course over to Ontario Street, feeding me right onto the seawall, which it looked like I could follow most of the way to UBC.

Ontario Street fed me right to that thing. Turns out that thing is called Science World!

Science World!
Science World!

Once on the seawall, the air got colder and the drizzle started making my pants wet. At first the sights kept my spirits up. The bikeway signs directed me clearly, cars actually stopped instantly when I came to a crosswalk, and there were lots of happy dogs with their owners. Yay!

However, at one point the seawall route started becoming a little confusing. I refused to accept that the “seaside” route signage would be taking me away from the sea, so I plodded on past a sign that said “pedestrians only.” After the path narrowed along Kitsilano Beach, I came to a big set of stairs and had to lug my bike back up. Yeesh. There seemed to be a lot of cyclists on Point Grey Road, which was a more major thoroughfare. I decided to still take the signed route–I went up a couple of blocks with an enormous hill, then turned right and went down that same enormous hill, which fed me onto…Point Grey Road! Argh!

Once I got to the Jericho Beach area, the traffic calmed immensely and the surroundings became much more lovely–more sea and trees and beach. And an extended hill which I was not mentally prepared for, between the cold, rain, and my mettle being tested.

On the way up though, I looked out to the sea and saw what looked like distant peninsulas, obscured because of cloud cover, beckoning to me like a Pacific Northwest Bali Hai. There were bald eagles hanging out in a dead tree, and circling above looking for food. Friendly joggers said hello.

Once I got to the museum, I locked my bike very carefully, remembering that my hosts told me that it’s very common for bikes to get stolen. Using my U-lock and a cable lock they lent me, I secured both of my wheels and frame to the bike rack, where it sat alone.

Totem at Museum of Anthropology at UBC
Totem at Museum of Anthropology at UBC

Inside the museum, I slowly dried off while looking at lots of totems, bentwood boxes, and ceremonial dishes, mostly from Haida and Kwakiutl people from the “first nations.” In addition, there was also a traveling photographic exhibit of Samoan tattoo art, and a collection of ceramics. (Not really sure what that had to do with anthropology, but it was fun to see nonetheless.) You can see photos here.

After getting lost on the UBC campus trying to find some food, I started making my way back via another bikeway. The way back seemed to take half the time, probably because there was a lot of downhill, great views, and the sun was starting to shine, although it was still pretty chilly. I took the Eighth Avenue bikeway until I started experiencing more car scariness again, then climbed up Ontario (arrrrgh! it’s steep) to the Tenth Avenue bikeway, and back home for an evening of food and conversation with my hosts.



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2 responses to “Bicycling Across Vancouver

  1. Ted Buehler

    >>I decided to still take the signed route–I went up a couple of blocks with an enormous hill, then turned right and went down that same enormous hill, which fed me onto…Point Grey Road! Argh!<<

    Yup, Seaside was one of Vancouver’s first Bicycle Boulevards. Locals don’t use it at all, for the exact reason you mention. They should decommission it, but if they did they’d have to fess up to the fact that Point Grey Road/Cornwall really suck for biking. I’ve had personal conversations with the person that layed it out, he said it was the only place they could put it, and didn’t see anything wrong with it, really…

    Your route was my commute for a year, once you get to know the ins and outs and are mentally prepared for that 300′ hill at the tip of the peninsula, it’s a real blast.

    Most folks would just take one of the two Off Broadway Bike Blvds, though, a bit more direct, milder grades…

    • On the way home I went via University Blvd and the Eighth Street bikeway, which was really nice and afforded a great view of the city by some park that I don’t know the name of.

      When I went someplace I almost always took a different way back home, in order to maximize my exposure of the different routes.

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