Scenic Routes from Vancouver International Airport (YVR): Cycling or Combining with Canada Line Light Rail

Luckily if you have a bike, it is easier than many other cities to get yourself from the airport in Richmond, B.C.  into downtown Vancouver –even when it rains. Vancouver offers some picturesque routes for visiting cyclists with stop points along the way.  The distance between the airport and heart of downtown Vancouver is just 18 kms. on the train.


Here are ways to enjoy those 18 kms:

Option 1:  Fast, Easy and Effortless: Hop onto the Canada Line with Bike

Visitors can walk directly from the airport with bags, their bike and catch the Canada Line train  to take you on a relaxing 30-minute  ride one-way into downtown Vancouver.  Just park your bike in the designated area inside the train.

Remember that bikes are not allowed on Canada Line and Skytrains during peak commuter times on week days, 7:00 am–9:00 am (westbound) and 4:00 pm-6:00 pm (eastbound). On weekends there are no restrictions for bikes.  All Canada Line stations have elevators. Check Translink’s cycling section on their web site  for details and bike maps.

You can also get off the Canada Line three stops from the airport at  Bridgeport Station and continue by cycling the Canada Line bike bridge in  Option 2.

Option 2:  Cycle to Downtown  Plus Pick Wild Blackberries, Explore a Park or Visit a Bakery Cafe

Got a few hours. before the hotel and would like to combine  scenic views with a food stop? Maybe tack on an interesting park.  There are 3 parks and some activities along the way to downtown Vancouver:

Wild Blackberry Picking at McDonald Beach Park in Richmond, B.C.

When you cycle out of the airport, take the path onto Templeton St.  Then drop by  McDonald Beach Park  along the Fraser River. The area is also locally referred to Sea Island Trails. In late summer and early fall, there are wild blackberries to pick and park benches to relax. Check out the Richmond bike and parks maps:

Cycling On Canada Line Bike Bridge Deck over Fraser River

Or simply cycle out of the airport.  Head north at  Bridgeport Station to get onto the ramp to the  1-km. bike  and pedestrian bridge over the Fraser River.  The  Canada Line bike bridge deck was built, tucked underneath the suspended Canada Line rail line. You will be protected from rain with the roof deck.
Once you are over the bike bridge, turn right onto the road leading to Cambie St.  Cambie St. has a bike lane that takes you north to downtown Vancouver. However, if you don’t mind a short steep hill for 3-4 blocks  and  wish to cycle on a quiet residential street, use Ontario St.  Hardly anyone is around to witness your moment of weakness if you choose to walk up the hill.

In spring time, cherry blossom trees are bursting along parts of Ontario St. and other side streets in the neighbourhood.

Relax at Queen Elizabeth Park

At Ontario and 37th Streets,  you will see a tall bike saddle sculpture, “Big Bike”  by  B. Luger and B. Potegal at Queen Elizabeth Park. There are several free, well-designed gardens with panoramic views of mountains and city skyline plus the Seasons restaurant.

Or Van Dusen Park

Just a 10 minute bike ride away  along 37th St. at Granville St., is Van Dusen Gardens which has an admission fee. There are more gardens, a suite of outdoor  sculptures and  a restaurant by the garden entrance.

Each of these two major  gardens can take several hours. Make sure your camera is ready. Autumn is also particularily beautiful in this area.

Shopping Stop at Sporting and Bike Stores or Bakery Near Olympic Village

When you head towards downtown, you will reach Broadway St. where there are several sporting goods and bike stores on this street between Ontario and Columbia St.  However if you are hungry for a snack, continue down Ontario St.   to  5th St. On your left, nip into Terra Breads, an artisanal bakery with sandwiches and soup. Or slip into Swiss  Bakery on 3rd St. for freshly baked pretzels or pastry with coffee.. These pretzels are made in the true German-Swiss style.  Or settle for gelato close by at Mario’s Gelato, lst  and Quebec St.

Olympic Village

At the end of Ontario St., there are  cyclists and walkers coming from the left-hand area of Olympic  Village, a complex of condominiums with a green roof community centre. There is a bike and pedestrian path that winds through the Village with a kayak shaped foot bridge and public seating areas by the  waterfront.

Or Head Straight Into Downtown Vancouver

Otherwise, save Olympic Village and its bike path to  Granville Market for another day. Cycle straight ahead from Ontario St, through a parking lot onto the Seaside bike and pedestrian path around the geodesic building, Science World.   By now, you can soak in  a beautiful waterfront sunset with a kayaker gliding by –before you crawl into your hotel bed.


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