While the Burrard Bridge Bike Lane Trial started on July 13th this was our first opportunity to take advantage of it, and what an advantage it is. We have occasionally biked over the bridge in the past but were not fans of the shared sidewalks and the potential to fall or get knocked into the traffic lane. With the new bike lane separated from traffic by a concrete barrier, and the separation of cyclists and pedestrians, the ride is now a great experience. We actually made the trip from our apartment in Coal Harbor to our destination at 4th and Maple in under 20 minutes and likely in less time than it would have taken us to drive. As an added bonus we found a vacant bike rack right in front of our initial destination, Las Margaritas.
After lunch of our usual Enchiladas at one of our favorite lunch spots, Las Margs, we took in the Car Show and a few of the musical acts that were a part of the 40th anniversary of the Summer of Love celebration on West 4th Avenue. With eight blocks of the street closed from Fir to Balsam it was a treat to be able to walk up and down the middle of the street instead of on the always crowded (and too narrow) sidewalks. We next retrieved our bikes and headed down Vine to the Kitsilano Community Center to check out a bit of KitsFest that was also going on this weekend. We watched some of the 3 on 3 basketball and tennis tournaments but it was actually the 2 on 2 beach volleyball that was the most entertaining. The volleyball turned out not to be a part of KitsFest but rather the Volleyball BC 2009 Adult Provincial Championships.
We then followed the Seaside Bicycle Route past Vanier Park, under the Burrard bridge, past Granville Island, under the Granville and Cambie bridges and along the new Millennium Water development (home of the Olympic Villages). It was the first time this summer we have ridden this route and were amazed by the details and features that are already completed along the Millennium portion of the Seaside path. We then headed down the almost complete Carrall Street Greenway (one block is still under construction) that leads us from the Seaside path to the confusion corner where Carrall meets Water and Powell Streets. Now this is where the absolutely perfect ride, on well maintained and newly developed bike routes, paths and lanes (thank you City of Vancouver), falls apart.
The only way for us to get home is down the very narrow Water Street to Cordova which are both filled with taxis and buses, past Waterfront Station (where the road narrows to one lane each way thanks to the construction on Granville) and either down Cordova or West Hastings the rest of the way home (because there is currently no finished bike route around the new convention center). So I have two questions for the City of Vancouver…Firstly, why did they remove the bike ramp at the foot of Waterfront Road that used to link to the start of the Seaside Bicycle Route without completing an alternative…and Secondly, when, if ever, will the Carrall Street Greenway be completed to “link north False Creek with the Burrard Inlet, completing a seawall loop around Downtown and Stanley Park” as the city’s website claims? Our city definitely has some great bike routes and is generally biker friendly, but a few more improvements will make it that much better.