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Vancouver has more than 279 miles of bicycle routes, from protected city bike lanes to trails along the breathtaking waterfront seawall, according to Tourism Vancouver. So, it’s not surprising that many locals and tourists alike choose to take advantage of the city’s extreme bicycle-friendliness.
“Bicycling would definitely be in the top five or even top three things that visitors do,” said Josh Bloomfield, founder of Cycle City Tours, which offers bike rentals and guided tours. “You’ll see all age demographics, from kids to seniors, using our bike paths. Also, most cities don’t have a network like we do. You’re not stuck just cycling on a bike path in a park, because the path will connect to dozens of neighborhoods.”
Cycle City’s five-hour Grand Tour covers some of Vancouver’s top attractions, including Stanley Park and Gastown, while the weekly, 3.5-hour Craft Beer Tour focuses on local breweries. The local operator also offers e-bikes, which make more challenging areas a breeze.
“E-bikes have gotten super popular,” Bloomfield said. “We saw an almost 300 percent increase in rentals from our shops.”
Those preferring to self-guide can rent bikes by the hour from Spokes Bicycle Rentals, which offers a wide range of city, mountain, road and cruiser models. Some Vancouver hotels, such as Opus Hotel, Loden Hotel and Fairmont Pacific Rim, offer in-house complimentary bicycles for guests; the Fairmont property recently added a new e-bike fleet as well in 2018 (available for a fee).
So, where can clients get their pedaling on? Here are five locations for fantastic bicycling routes, as well as some highlights along each one.
Stanley Park SeawallThis is Vancouver’s most essential trail; it encircles the city’s beloved green space mostly along the stunning seawall. Noteworthy stops along the approximately one-hour ride around the Stanley Park Seawall include Brockton Point Lighthouse, Point Lookout under Lions Gate Bridge, Third Beach and Second Beach Pool.
Inner Stanley ParkThe seawall gets all the glory, but trails within Stanley Park itself can be rewarding and lush with nature — and away from the often-overcrowded seawall lanes during peak summer months.
“We definitely recommend getting off the seawall and riding through the forest, so we give out maps to help people find those trails,” Bloomfield said. “As soon as you enter those forest trails, you hardly see anybody; even locals can be intimidated because they don’t want to get lost. But as long as you have a map, it’s accessible.”
Intermediate riders, or those with an e-bike, should take the Prospect Point trail. It leads up to the park’s highest point and — some would argue — the best viewing spot.
“Yeast” VancouverA cluster of small craft breweries make this urban ride from downtown to East Vancouver a jolly ride. Essentially a straight shot on Union Street from its intersection at Main Street, the route will take riders along a residential stretch before ending at Adanac Street. Get beer flights at taprooms Luppulo Brewing Co., Off The Rail Brewing and Bomber Brewing.
UBC Loop The University of British Columbia (UBC) makes for a scenic, lengthy ride from Jericho Beach, just west of Kitsilano. Besides the waterfront stretch, riders can check out the UBC campus’ Museum of Anthropology, which includes extensive First Nation arts, and the UBC Botanical Garden. Then, they can return east inland on West 16th Avenue.
False Creek SeawallThis is another quintessential Vancouver biking experience, which clients can start from Yaletown, riding along the seawall past the iconic, all-ages Science World at Telus World of Science — it’s worth a stop — and Olympic Village. Riders can make their way to the end point at buzzy Granville Island, where they can indulge in well-deserved eats at its indoor Public Market, restaurants, breweries and distilleries.
The DetailsCycle City Tours + Rentalswww.cyclevancouver.com
Spokes Bicycle Rentalswww.spokesbicyclerentals.com