Vancouver’s Cycling Culture
Vancouver has been accused of having a dull, grey cycling monoculture. Nothing could be further from the truth! In Vancouver the cyclists are as diverse as the population.
I am grateful to many readers who have supplied ideas and photos for this post.
I thought I’d start out with a blast from the past: here’s a Vancouver cyclist from 1925, on a bike that was decorated to look like a horse (Copyright 2010 Vancouver Public Library):
Moving to the present day, Vancouver is beginning to provide the infrastructure to ensure that cyclists are starting young – and of course, the young are all about bright colors and fun!
Once our cyclists grow up, there are all kinds of cycling activities going on that are anything but dull and grey. For instance, Vancruisers is a club for local cyclists who favour cruisers, including choppers, beach cruisers, krate bikes and rat rods. They host a number of fun, rainbow-coloured events. One of these is the Little 100 race. Here are some photos of the colourful (and entirely not-grey) participants, taken by Ulrike Rodrigues (who has many other great photos on her site).
And then of course there are their beautiful bikes, also photographed by Ulrike Rodrigues:
Bryn from Vancruisers tipped me off to the Wig Rides that Vancruisers holds regularly – here is a photo of some of the participants. I don’t know when last I saw such a non-boring group of cyclists!
And of course, Vancouver has recently become more beautiful thanks to the addition of the new, improved, safer, separated bike lanes (Burrard, Dunsmuir, and Hornby). Here’s a late fall shot of a cyclist on the Dunsmuir Bike Lane, courtesy of Paul Krueger.
Our new bike lanes feature bike traffic signals, which have caused a bit of confusion for some. So some friendly flag people were roped in to help out on the new Hornby Bike Lane, creating another flash of colour in our diverse city (photo courtesy of Paul Krueger).
Vancouver’s recent and dramatic bike lane improvements can be credited to Vision Vancouver and Mayor Gregor Robertson. And as Gregor is anything but a dull, grey cycling advocate, I thought I’d throw in a photo of him. This one shows him with Brian Hever, a resident of Yaletown House, trying out the care facility’s new Duet Bike in Yaletown (photo from Metro).
The improvements in our cycling facilities give us much to celebrate. Check out Tony entertaining cyclists with a song about bike lanes at the Wentings Bike Shop (Mission) Celebration Station during the 2009 Bike to Work Week. (Not actually in Vancouver, but one of our neighbours!)
Moving back to Vancouver, the Museum of Vancouver’s Velocity exhibit in 2009 showcased diversity in bike culture, both past and present. These photos courtesy of jnyyz (who runs the Toronto-based blog, Biking in a Big City):
And let’s not forget Vancouver’s Critical Mass Rides, held on the last Friday of every month, which draw every conceivable variety of cyclists, and enable participants to show off their creative bikes:
Speaking of political statements, I spotted this anything-but-dull bike parked besides the Occupy Vancouver demonstration (held in solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street movement) outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, in October 0f 2011.
Thought I’d close with one of Paul Krueger’s great photos, taken on the new Hornby route:
Kind of says it all! However, I am very much aware that this post does NOT say it all when it comes to the diversity of Vancouver’s cycling culture. Please let me know about things I have missed – I could feature them in a follow-up post!
If you want to know more about Vancouver’s Cycling Culture, read Ulrike Rodrigues’s fascinating, in-depth article.