Vancouver currently has about 265 kilometres of bike path, and works continually toward building the infrastructure to encourage even more cycling. The way Vancouverites have adopted and accepted cycling culture has definitely turned a few heads around the world. With that much dedicated cycling space, you can see a lot of Vancouver from these paths. Even the most tenured Vancouverites can’t say they have seen it all. So, what better way to learn about and see more of a city you love, than with people who love this city? Cycle City Tours believes that one of the best ways to see Vancouver is by bike, and there is no better bike ride than a bike ride shared with friends!
I decided to do one of their tours! I have lived in and cycled a fair amount around Vancouver, and would say I know this city pretty well, but I am a firm believer that everyone should be a tourist in their own city once in a while. I met the group, a family from Belgium, a family from England, and Kate, our tour guide. We started from the Cycle City shop on Hornby Street and cycled through the West End to Stanley Park. We stopped along the way to learn about Vancouverism, a type of urban design and a style of urbanism Vancouver does so well that other cities around the world have adopted it, and Vancouver’s plans to be the “Greenest City” by 2020. In Stanley Park, we visited Totem Park, and the “Girl in a Wetsuit”, Vancouver’s tribute to the statue. She also mentioned that “in a truly Canadian example of vandalism,” someone swam out and placed a Canadian soccer jersey on the statue last year during the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
We left the seawall and turned into the Park. All of a sudden, we were in the jungle! We saw trees that were 600 years old, and still growing. I think I often take for granted the beauty of this city. Seeing trees like this, just ten minutes from downtown, reminds me just how totally rad Vancouver is. After another stint on our bikes, we hopped on the Aquabus and went to Granville Island. It was here I treated myself to a classic Siegel’s Rosemary Rocksalt bagel with Vancouver lox and cream cheese. If you’re going to act like a tourist, you may as well eat like one!
The rest of the tour was more cycling and fewer stops. It felt like we saw the entire City! Kate had so many interesting stories and tidbits about the development of Vancouver, and facts about all the various communities. It was clear too, from the way she told these stories, that she loves this city, and enjoys sharing that love with new folks. The families that were on the tour with me were clearly falling in love with this place, just like so many of us have.
Cycle City Tours offers three different types of tours: a 3-hour Stanley Park and Seawall tour, a 5-hour Grand Tour (which is what we did), and a tour of craft breweries complete with beer tastings at each stop. They have the option to BYOB (Bring Your Own Bike), or to rent a bike for the duration of the tour. They boast “friendly shop staff” and rightfully so. Kate was enthusiastic and excited, and knew so much about the city. The folks who helped the group with their bikes and helmets were super friendly and genuine. This tour should be on everyone’s “must do” list, both visitors and locals alike. Be a tourist for a day, and fall back in love with your city.