Biking in Victoria and Vancouver Island
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Victoria is a bike-friendly town with more bicycle commuters than any other city in Canada. Bike racks on city buses, bike lanes on downtown streets, and tolerant drivers all help, as do the city's three long-distance cycling routes, which mix car-free paths and low-traffic scenic routes.
BC Ferries will transport bikes for a nominal fee (just C$2 from Vancouver). You can also rent bikes, bike trailers, and tandem bikes at several Victoria outlets for a few hours, a day, or a week. Helmets are required by law and are supplied with bike rentals.
Cowichan Valley Trail. This 29-mile path, part of the Trans-Canada trail, runs from Shawnigan Lake to Cowichan Lake in the Cowichan Valley. A rails-to-trails conversion, the route crosses eight historic bridges, include the 614-foot-long Kinsol Trestle, which is reportedly the highest of its kind in Canada. Victoria, BC. www.cvrd.bc.ca.
Galloping Goose Regional Trail. Following an old rail bed, this 33-mile route officially starts at the Johnson Street Bridge in Victoria. The multi-use trail runs across old rail trestles and through forests west to the town of Sooke, finishing at the abandoned gold-mining town of Leechtown. Just north of downtown it links with the Lochside Regional Trail to Sidney, creating a nearly continuous 62-mile car-free route. Victoria, BC. 250/478-3344. www.crd.bc.ca/parks.
Lochside Regional Trail. This fairly level, mostly car-free route follows an old rail bed for 18 miles past farmland, wineries, and beaches from the ferry terminals at Swartz Bay and Sidney to downtown Victoria. It joins the Seaside Touring Route at Cordova Bay and meets the Galloping Goose Trail just north of downtown Victoria. Victoria, BC. 250/478-3344. www.crd.bc.ca/parks.
Rotary Route. For an ambitious tour of southern Vancouver Island's back roads and bike trails, follow this 68-mile signed route from Swartz Bay up to Nanaimo. Victoria, BC. www.rotaryroute.org.
Seaside Touring Route. Starting at the corner of Government and Belleville streets on the Inner Harbour, this 18-mile route, marked with bright yellow signs, leads past Fisherman's Wharf and along the Dallas Road waterfront to Beacon Hill Park. It then follows the seashore to Cordova Bay, where it connects with Victoria's other two long-distance routes: the Lochside and Galloping Goose regional trails. Victoria, BC.
The Gulf Islands are also popular with cyclists. The scenery is wonderful, but the steep narrow roads and lack of dedicated bike paths can be frustrating.
Bike Rentals and Tours
Cycle BC Rentals. This centrally located shop rents bikes for adults and children, as well as bike trailers, motorcycles, and scooters. 685 Humboldt St., Downtown, Victoria, BC, V8W 1A6. 250/380-2453. www.cyclebc.ca. 950 Wharf St. 250/385-2453. cyclebc.ca/.
CycleTreks. Besides renting bikes, this company also runs bike tours of Victoria, the Gulf Islands, and various parts of Vancouver Island, as well as a vineyard tour of the Cowichan Valley. The staff can give you a ride to the start of Galloping Goose Trail or to Butchart Gardens so that you can pedal back. 1000 Wharf St., Downtown, Victoria, BC, V8W 1T2. 250/386-2277 or 877/733-6722. www.cycletreks.com.
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