The City of Vancouver reported that a record number of cyclists travelled along separated bike lanes in June. There was a 31-percent increase along the Science World route and a 28-percent rise on the Burrard Bridge over the same month of 2014. There were also double-digit increases on several other cycling routes, demonstrating the rising popularity of two-wheeled transportation.
We spoke to Erin O’Melinn, executive director of HUB Cycling, about how cyclists can make the most of their rides. She’s been with the cycling-advocacy group since 2009 and has an SFU master’s degree in urban studies.
Georgia Straight: What’s the best cycling route in Vancouver?
Erin O’Melinn: I’d say the Dunsmuir bike route that connects in with Union-Adanac [streets] because it takes you all the way from downtown in a protected bike lane over the scenic viaducts, where you can get quite a nice view all the way to Burnaby. So it connects you to a lot of destinations, with some beautiful parks, markets, and breweries along the way.
GS: What’s the best area in the suburbs for cycling?
EO: Probably in Richmond—the River Road–Steveston dike path kind of route. It’s really beautiful. They get to see the river, and there are some amazing wetlands and parks around there. Then once you arrive at Steveston, there’s a lovely market and you can have some great fish and chips.
GS: Where can you find the best craft beer along a cycling route on the East Side?
EO: Bomber Brewing on Adanac. Have I been there? Yes.
GS: Where’s the best place to stop for a beer along a cycling route on the West Side?
EO: The Local [Public Eatery] in Kits. It has bike parking surrounding the patio.
GS: What’s the best coffee shop along the Hornby cycling route?
EO: Caffè Artigiano.
GS: What’s your best response to pedestrians who complain about cyclists riding on Denman Street sidewalks?
EO: My response would be let’s work together for a solution. It’s true that sidewalk riding is prohibited, but there also isn’t a safe-feeling place for people on bicycles on the street. They can email email@example.com to support protected bike lanes on Denman and they can join HUB Cycling, both of which would help free up space for pedestrians to have their own sidewalk. It’s kind of a narrow street and sidewalk for…the large amount of traffic of all types, foot and bike and cars. It’s quite a squished space.
GS: Where’s the best place to get your bike tuned up?
EO: If you want to learn how to do some of the bike maintenance and tuning yourself, Our Community Bikes is a great grassroots organization. Or any of the shops on HUB’s member-benefit list at bikehub.ca.
GS: What’s the best way for cyclists to avoid getting doored while riding around town?
EO: Always ride a metre away from parked cars to avoid the door zone. Also, pay attention to movement and lights in vehicles and ring your bell before you’re passing those vehicles and take extra care. We also say to take a HUB ride-the-road course to get more comfortable with city cycling to understand how you can ride safely. And you can tell your MLA that you want increased penalties for people that open their door into moving traffic, just like Ontario did this month.
GS: Where’s the best bike parking in Vancouver?
EO: This one is new so it’s not heavily used yet, but it’s very high-quality. It’s the Main Street SkyTrain secure bike-parking area.
GS: What’s the worst location in the city to park your bike?
EO: I’d say Gastown because it does not have enough bike-parking racks. So bikes are getting taken off of poles, and trees are getting cut down. There are so many great destinations that are very bikeable in Gastown but very few spots to safely park. Signposts can be unscrewed from the ground, and thieves will dismantle the sign to take your bike. It’s very tricky to find something that’s actually secure to lock to. My particular pet peeve is Carrall Street as it enters Gastown. It’s really brutal.
GS: What’s the best lock to use to prevent bike theft?
EO: The Abus Bordo folding lock is my favourite. We also say to listen to the tips in HUB’s bike-theft prevention video about when, where, and how to use that lock to lock your bike properly.
GS: What’s the best way to teach kids to ride safely?
EO: Teach them the rules of the road and take them out on rides to reinforce what they’ve learned. And take a HUB cycling course as a parent and/or get one into your child’s school.
GS: What’s the best way to lobby politicians to promote better policies for cyclists?
EO: Joining HUB Cycling as well as sending emails and letters directly to elected officials at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels. You can participate in monthly volunteer HUB committee meetings in your local area as well.
GS: Are there any questions that I neglected to ask?
EO: The best bike-friendly hotel. We would say Accent Inns has done a great job. They’re not in the City of Vancouver proper, but they’re in Burnaby. They have free bike rentals, and you can bring your bike right into the room. There’s a bicycle wash and tuning station, a tool kit, rags, a stand, and a laundry room. It’s really quite impressive.