Cycling in Vancouver

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Cycling

Although Vancouver has always sported a bike-friendly culture, the 2011 Vancouver Downtown Separated Bike Lanes program made biking even easier. This system of bike lanes protects cyclists by placing a barrier between them and traffic. Look for the lanes downtown, especially along Hornsby Street and Dunsmuir Street. These lanes are in addition to the 16 interconnected bikeways, identified by green bicycle signs, that the city introduced in time for hosting the Olympics.

Vancouver cycling routes connect with those in nearby communities. Most routes do share the road with cars, but they're safe and include cyclist-activated signals and other bike-friendly measures. Many TransLink buses have bike racks, and bikes are welcome on the SeaBus and on the SkyTrain at off-peak times. Aquabus Ferries transport bikes and riders across False Creek. If cycling is a key component of your visit, check online with the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (www.vacc.bc.ca).

There are detailed maps and other information on the website operated by the City of Vancouver (www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/transport/cycling). Cycling maps are also available from most bike shops and bike-rental outlets. Helmets are required by law, and a sturdy lock is essential.

Seaside Trek. Mostly on paved bike paths, the 9-mile Seaside Trek starts in English Bay and ends at the University of British Columbia, passing through False Creek along the way. Beach Ave. at Gilford St., English Bay, Vancouver, BC, V6E.

Stanley Park Seaside Route. Vancouver's most popular bike path is the 6½-mile Stanley Park Seaside Route, which follows the perimeter of Stanley Park, hugging the harbor along the way. From here, the views of Lion's Gate Bridge and the mountains to the north are breathtaking. This path converges with the Seaside Trek if you feel like making a day of it. Rent your bike near the entrance to Stanley Park, as there are no rentals once you're inside. W. Georgia St. and Stanley Park Dr., Stanley Park, Vancouver, BC, V6G 3E2. 604/873–7526. www.vancouver.ca/engsvcs/transport/cycling.

Bike Rentals

Most bike-rental outlets also rent Rollerblades and jogging strollers. Cycling helmets, a legal requirement in Vancouver, come with the rentals. Locks and maps are also normally supplied.

Bayshore Bike Rentals. If you're starting your ride near Stanley Park, try this friendly store. It has a wide range of bikes as well as baby joggers and bike trailers. 745 Denman St., West End, Vancouver, BC, V6G 2L6. 604/688–2453. www.bayshorebikerentals.ca.

Reckless Bike Stores. This outfit rents bikes on the Yaletown section of the Seaside Bicycle Route. To explore Granville Island, check out the branch at 1810 Fir Street in Kitsilano. 110 Davie St., Yaletown, Vancouver, BC, V6Z 2Y1. 604/648–2600. www.reckless.ca.

Spokes Bicycle Rentals. Located near Stanley Park, Spokes has a wide selection of mountain bikes, tandem bikes, and children's bikes. Everything from hourly to weekly rentals is available. Helmets, locks, and route maps are complimentary. 1798 W. Georgia St., West End, Vancouver, BC, V6G 2V7. 604/688–5141. www.spokesbicyclerentals.com.

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking may be a worldwide phenomenon, but its most radical expression, known as free-riding, was born in the 1990s on the steep-and-rugged North Shore Mountains. Here, the mostly young thrill-seekers ride ultra-heavy-duty bikes through gnarly forests, along log-strewn trails, over rocky precipices, and down stony stream beds (not to mention along obstacles like planks and teeter-totters)—and live to tell about it. This anarchic culture can be explored at the website operated by North Shore Mountain Biking (www.nsmb.com).

Lower Seymour Conservation Reserve. Nestled into the precipitous North Shore Mountains, this reserve has 25 km (15.5 miles) of challenging rain-forest trails through alpine meadows, forested slopes, and river flood plains. The meandering Seymour Valley Trailway is a 10-km (6-mile) paved pathway, suitable for cyclists, in-line skaters, baby strollers, and wheelchairs. Other trails, like Corkscrew and Salvation, are classified as advanced or even extreme. End of Lillooet Rd., North Vancouver, BC, V7J 2H9. 604/432–6286. www.metrovancouver.org.

Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Beautifully sited on the Point Grey peninsula on Vancouver's west side, Pacific Spirit sits close to the University of British Columbia. Open year-round from dawn to dusk, it includes 38 km (23.5 miles) of trails for cycling and horseback riding. 4915 W. 16th Ave., Point Grey, Vancouver, BC, V6R 4E1. 604/224–5739. www.greatervancouverparks.com.

Mountain Bike Rentals

Cove Bike Shop. In the village of Deep Cove on Indian Arm, the Cove Bike Shop pioneered the design and construction of mountain bikes for this punishing terrain. Given the huge insurance costs, it's the only bike shop that rents them. Bikes of all types and sizes are available March through October. 1389 Main St., North Vancouver, BC, V7J 1C4. 604/929–2222. www.covebike.com.

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