Call me crazy, but I love cycling over Vancouver’s bridges. There is a certain thrill to crossing Burrard Inlet on your bike. Bridges are often a source of angst for Vancouverites frustrated with traffic congestion and slow commutes home. However, on your bicycle you become one with the bridge and traffic issues are the least of your concerns. A long, slow grind to the “mid-span” and you are immediately rewarded with awe inspiring views of the City, the North Shore and a bustling marine highway. One of my favourite rides is a circle route from Canada Place to the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, a jaunt along the North Shore and a return via the Lions Gate Bridge.
Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest and exploring it by bike provides the opportunity to get up close to this busy harbour. Within minutes of leaving Canada Place you arrive at Crab Park at Portside, a great place to take in the unique views of the colourful shipping containers, Canada Place, sea buses, tugboats and the thriving heliport. Although you might suspect that the park is named after the crustaceans who frequent our coastal waters, in fact, rumour has it that the name stems from the acronym “Create a Real Available Park” for the downtown residents. No matter the history of the name a stop here is certainly worth the effort. Leaving the park, be sure to stop and admire the Lion statutes that frame the view of the North Shore Lions.
Cycling through the Hastings-Sunrise neighbourhood you will quickly arrive at New Brighton Park, another gem along the foreshore. From here you get your first glimpse of the Iron Workers Memorial Bridge, and it looks high! Originally named the Second Narrows Bridge, it was renamed in 1994 to honour the workers who died during the construction process. Recent construction on the bridge has widened the sidewalks, a tremendous safety improvement for cyclists. Enjoy the descent from the mid-span, you are now on Vancouver’s North Shore.
With recent improvements to the Lower Level Road and the Spirit Trail, recreational cycling along the North Shore waterfront has never been better. Once finished, this multi-use trail will extend from Horseshoe Bay to Deep Cove. Of course, a ride along the waterfront isn’t complete without a well-planned rest stop at Lonsdale Quay Market. During my recent visit to the Quay, I had the distinct pleasure of sharing a table with Marcel, a North Van local who regularly enjoys a coffee break and treat at this community “hotspot”. At 88 years young, Marcel delighted in sharing his insights on Vancouver living. To quote Marcel, “each day in Vancouver is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.” Without question, my gift for the day was meeting Marcel.
Just when you can’t believe that the ride will get any better, it is time to tackle one of Vancouver’s most famous landmarks, the Lions Gate Bridge. Take your time and savour the views! Leaving the best to last, the final leg takes you through Stanley Park and connects to the Seawall Greenway for a return ride to Canada Place.
This route combines separated bikeways, shared walking and hiking trails, local street bikeways and shared use lanes. Cyclists should be comfortable riding in traffic.