The Barnet Highway Bike Lane connects Burnaby and Port Moody in BC, Canada. It’s a wide bike lane on the side of a highway. It’s not separated, so it is not safe in bad weather or after dark. However, I enjoy the Barnet Highway bike lane for cycling training and working on my hill climbing abilities while enjoying amazing views and scenery.
The Barnet Highway clings to the edge of a high hill looking down on the Burrard Inlet. The Barnet Highway Bike Lane is 9 km from top to bottom, double that if you go there and back (18 km), and quadruple that (36 km) if you are serious about training and do it twice. I have a personal aim of doing it there and back 5 times in a row, for a 90 km training ride
Surfaces: all paved
Distance: just under 9 km, one way
Difficulty level: very challenging, hill all the way (easier on the down lap!)
Safety level: it’s a highway, so you are right next to speeding cars. But there is a broad cycling shoulder, marked for bikes. I feel safe enough, but the speeding cars might be a deal-breaker for some. I would NOT take my kids (or any one else’s) on this ride
Type of bike required: road bike recommended, but you could probably do it on a hybrid if it’s not heavy, AND you have legs of steel
Suitable for: adults only (due to very fast-moving traffic), mainly people who are training for cycling events or for people who just want to get really, really fit
Congestion: can be quite busy during peak hours – but the bike lane is NEVER busy
Average Joe Cyclist Rating: Barnet Highway Bike Lane rates a Gold Bike-Star for training purposes and awesome views!
For more guides to bike trails, see Average Joe Cyclist Trail Guides
There are four great things about the Barnet Highway Bike Lane:
- It is perfect for training, because it involves a continuous 9-km uphill route that is challenging but not impossible.
- It has great views along the way, which distract you from the pain.
- It has a broad bike shoulder all the way, so it is pretty safe.
- It is much less crowded than most highways, especially if you avoid peak hours. So you breathe less fumes than you would on roads such as the Lougheed Highway.
Once upon a time, if you told me I would one day cycle down AND up the Barnet Highway Bike Lane for fun and fitness, I would have been flattered – but I would also have thought you were insane. From a car the uphill seems really intimidating. However, I was amazed the first time I did it to discover that it was much easier than you’d think. In particular, the first part of the uphill is quite easy, and I was flying along at 35 km per hour without much trouble. Not only that, but it was fun. I am not sure exactly why – you would have to do it yourself to see. I just got quite a rush out of it.
At about the 6 km mark of the Barnet Highway Bike Lane, right near the Velodrome that stands on the side of the road, the going suddenly gets very tough. I slow right down at this point. It’s not quite the sort of hill that makes you wish you could put a paper bag over your head to conceal your identity while you push your bike, but it’s close. The real pain only continues for about 1 km, and then it gets slightly less difficult. However, it remains very noticeably uphill all the way to the top.
What is cool is that halfway up you will pass the Mountain Air Bike Skills Park – fun for the whole family, when it’s open. If you happen to be riding a cyclocross bike, you could stop here for a bit of fun. And also, from here you can set off on several trails over Burnaby Mountain – but choose your season sensibly, and don’t go alone. I once set off on my own, in the fall, and I am pretty sure I saw a bear up ahead. I am not entirely certain, because skidding to a halt and ripping my bike around so fast that my eyeballs hurt definitely impeded my vision!
Going downhill is of course more fun. However, the hill is surprisingly deceptive. You’d think you could freewheel all the time, but you actually have to pedal for a surprising amount of the time. This is all good, as it means that you are doing some good cycling training both ways. On the fun side, there are bits, especially near the top, where you will be flying!
I highly recommend Barnet Highway bike lane if you want to put in a bit of cycling training and work on your hill climbing abilities while enjoying amazing views and scenery. Not only that, but your lungs, hearts and leg muscles will definitely thank you! If you like cycling uphill but would rather do it in a forest, check out this review on the Springboard Trail in Belcarra Park.
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