Cycling is the way to go during the Olympics, and Vision Vancouver’s year-round cyclist knows why.
“There are no lineups to get on your bike,” Coun. Heather Deal told the Georgia Straight in her office at City Hall. “You get the best [parking] spots and you get closer to the venues. You get right as close as you can get, as opposed to a mere [transit] stop.”
Deal will give both her bikes a workout this coming month and plans to have changes of clothes ready at City Hall—“ ”˜Olympic casual’, as we call it, to business suits and back on any given day”—for various Olympic events she will be attending.
“I’m actually going to take my second bike and leave it here at City Hall, so that I always have that option of hopping on my bike, depending on the route and the time of day and the weather and how fast I have to be there,” she said. “It can be a great way to get around the city.”
Regular commuter cyclist Rachel Marcuse also needs no convincing of the merits of two-wheeled pedal power. Marcuse, executive director of the Coalition of Progressive Electors, said: “[Public] transit is crazy right now, and it’s going to be a more pleasant way to get around.
“I am usually more of a summer, spring, and fall cyclist—not so much a winter cyclist,” Marcuse told the Straight by phone before cycling to a COPE news conference. “But I just decided that this is a good opportunity for me to rainproof my bike and really go for it. That way I don’t have to worry about all the various transit reroutings and how crazy it’s going to be downtown on transit. I can get around on my own.”
The day before she spoke to the Straight, Marcuse said, she “tried to take the B-Line”, the Broadway bus service that now enjoys “Olympic lane” status.
“The B-Line is always crazy during rush hour, but it doesn’t usually pass me three times,” she said. “It passed me three times yesterday.”
Mount Pleasant cyclist Ranae Kowalczuk said the cycling option is catching on.
“Everybody I know is prepared to bike everywhere,” Kowalczuk told the Straight. “I am planning on doing that too. It’s not an option to do anything else.”
In a Web-site release pertaining to getting around the region this month, Vanoc warned against what Kowalczuk and her friends will avoid.
“Walking, cycling, and transit will be the fastest ways to get around during the Games,” the release states. “There will be an increase in traffic and additional parking restrictions throughout Vancouver, and, in particular, the downtown and the areas adjacent to Games venues. It is strongly recommended that you choose a mode other than driving. If you must drive, fill up your car with passengers.”
Arno Schortinghuis, president of the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition, told the Straight the 2001 transit strike led to a “big uptake in cycling”.
“I think what people are going to find is that driving is very difficult, transit is going to be very crowded, and if somebody gets five buses passing them by, they’re going to think, ”˜Oh, heck, I’ve got to get around a different way,’ ” Schortinghuis said. “Cycling is the clear option.”
Even though the popular seawall path is blocked off in some places along False Creek, Schortinghuis said it is going to be very crowded where it is open.
“There’s no cycling by David Lam Park,” he said. “There’s no cycling along the Olympic Village, so it is going to be difficult to get around on the seawall, but they’ve made good alternatives. Quebec Street is still open to cycling on the east sidewalk.” (A map is available on the City of Vancouver’s Web site.)
Vanoc has stated that it hopes to reduce downtown motor-vehicle traffic by 30 percent during the Games.