Vancouver – meanderings, musings and buildings

Chilco cycle route sign, VancouverLast two days in Vancouver before I move into holiday mode.

Rounding up some incidental photos from across the week, wanderings on Saturday and then off to watch the European Championships finals in the Italian area of Vancouver – which was achieved by way of a few discoveries on the way.

So this is a messy post, but one that closes the week nicely.

Mood – chilled out. Everywhere should have a cycle route called Chilco, but it sums up the weekend mood in Vancouver just nicely.

Seaside cycle route Vancouver - family group

And Saturday’s ride was a gentle meander after the rain which took me to Inukshuk.

Inukshuk plaque

The symbol of the stones is actually seen all over BC as a welcome, but this one on the Seaside was oddly accompanied by pillars of stones set on the rocks by the sea. I am sure I could look up why, but they seemed oddly apt beside the larger piece.

Inukshuk, Vancouver

Roof Garden VancouverNearby I also saw the most over-ambitious roof garden I have ever seen. It’s a bit grainy, but yes there is a tree on that roof facing the sea winds. “More money than sense” as your granny would say.


And to today’s ride. Out from the city centre to Commercial Road which is lined with Italian cafes and restaurants, so the obvious spot to see Italy play Spain in the Euros.

And handily marked a quiet streets cycle route out to my destination and back.

Diverting slightly off route via Chinatown on the way out I found this amazing mural.

Lao Tsu mural  Chinatown Vancouver

Chinatown Vancouver - Street signsChinatown VancouverThe Chinatown is not as ornate as those in London or Manchester with such defined entrances, it seems to be a more authentic Chinese living and trading area than a tourist trap.

Chinatown then gives on to some lovely residential streets with what I would call “colonial” style houses, although that is probably not the politically correct term in the 21st Century.

Vancouver houses

To Commercial Road where throngs are gathered on the pavements outside every cafe, although it appears the Spanish are almost as populous as Italians, and even more so when they won – resulting in a street parade of honking horns and flags.

Soccer fans, Commercial Road, Vancouver

So finally I drift back towards the railway and bus station for my bus to Whistler.

And I am rewarded by excellent views back over the city, some great cycling themed murals and then finally the outstanding modernist 1920s interior of the Vancouver main railway station – a building lost well out from the city centre.  A shame because the interior is a treat.

Vancouver Sunday

Cycling mural Vancouver

Cycling mural Vancouver

Vancouver Pacific Railway Station interior

Tour de France watching for breakfast – totally guilt free!

I have been trying to get my head round watching the Tour de France from British Columbia. Particularly this year because of the British interest with Wiggins and Cavendish. So I just sat down with the official Tour web site and the trusty time zone calculator to discover that Wiggo should be donning the yellow jersey for the first time around 8.30 am tomorrow.*

And after that the stage finishes should all be around the same time each day. Amazing – able to watch the sport without the slightest guilt that I am wasting the day, not sold out because I am watching not riding, not having to do the ironing to justify watching sport all afternoon. And then I can go ride my bike afterwards.


*Over-optimism may be creeping in with the joy of this discovery.

Tour de France at the Halfway Inn, Kent, England

Tour de France at the Halfway Inn, Kent, England

Vancouver bike parade – just in time for the rain

Having had several days where the weather has been good and the sunlight has brought out the very best in Vancouver tonight’s bike parade was a rather gloomy affair.

Sadly few modern cities of steel and concrete can look at their best in under darkened skies. However a real brightness was brought by the volunteers from the Hub in their bright yellow shirts, but oather than that it was a bit dour. A shame, because I had already done much of the route in the sunshine over the last few days and it was great and for some of the delegates this will be their main bike excursion around the city.

The other thing that ruined the photography was the lack of many interesting participants from the city, I was really hoping we might get some of the cycling sub-cultures out on the street. Our delegates were somewhat uniform because they are almost all on the Bixi public bike sharing machines from Montreal and wearing the uniform black Lazer helmets issued by the organisers to encourage us to comply with the mandatory helmet law here. (Although many didn’t comply.) Thank heavens for some Dutch humour – they always say laughter is one of the greatest weapons in advocacy. Well done.

Dutch Cycle helmet!

So limited photography of the kind I like, you will have to go back the Vienna RadPaRade for some real cycling diversity. But a few shots – we did enjoy ourselves and for those that had never done a Velo-city bike parade with 800 people in a close road convory were really enjoying the novelty.

Vancouver bike parade


Dawn bike ride in Vancouver

Sunrise - Waterfront, Vancouver

Yesterday’s early morning ride. Waterfront, Stanley Park and views from Lion’s Gate Bridge.

I happened to have a moment when I had to fill a short gap from the stage of our conference. I told the European delegates that if they didn’t use the fact they are all waking up at 5am to get down there at first light they would regret it. I hope there is a small convoy of Bixi bikes out there now even as I am typing. The light quality is brilliant. And for photographers I can say that the shot above did not use any filters or treatment – the diffraction effect just came naturally.

Bike parade round the city tonight. Should be god for lots of photos, although the conference talk is of how many delegates and locals are going to use it as a chance to protest about the compulsory helmet law.

And welcome to my new best friend – what $129 buys you from the bike recycling scheme at Ride On Again – just the job.

Coal Harbour

Sunrise - Waterfront, Vancouver - Houseboats on Coal Harbour

Vancouver Stanley Park Totem poles

From Lion's Gate Bridge Vancouver

My new best friend. Recycled bike on Lion's Gate Bridge Vancouver

Museum of Anthropology and University of British Columbia


This gallery contains 7 photos.

Lots of stuff about Velo-city 2012 on the official ECF web site and trending seriously on twitter after this morning’s barnstorming opening presentation by Gil Penalosa. #velocity2012. But that is the day job which you can follow on  – … Continue reading

It really is not about the bike

Bixi hire bike Vancouver

Bixi hire bike Vancouver

Back in 2007 I wrote an article for the CTC web site which arose from a shorter magazine article of the same name. “On holiday without my bike” was an encouragement to CTC members to attempt cycle hire and see where it might lead them. However was initially conceived as a full on rant about the sort of cyclist who is incapable of enjoying cycling without their own bike, moaning and groaning either about the difficulties of transporting their handcrafted steed to the ends of the globe or equally complaining about whatever bike they do end up using. I rather toned it down in the end to avoid offending some friends and family.

Now I am the custodian of a blog can I go there again? It is the cycling that counts. When we experience scenery, the people, the transport of delight, flying without wings. Anything with two wheels please.

I got myself in a right mess over the last few weeks trying to sort out how I would complete a cycle tour from Vancouver via a bus trip to Whistler and a ride from Whistler to Kelowna. All the hassle just dropped away when I decided not to worry.

A Bixi city bike (above and right) for the Velo-city conference.

Conference bikes ready to go

A hired full suspension for the two days in Whistler.And for the tour I have just been to Ride On Again Bikes in West Broadway Vancouver to get a recycled bike that  I will happily dispose of at the other end, not having to brave the carriage conditions of a single airline.

Ride On Again, Vancouver

Superb service, relaxed about letting me ride a bike or two and just 20 minutes to change the saddle and stick on a rack and bottle cage. Added bonus of meeting Sue Knaup from One Street  in the shop buying her own bargain for the trip. And the really nice people at the hotel have let me bring it up to the bedroom. Somewhat defeats the object of a bike that nobody wants to steal – but Canadians are just so nice, they can’t help it.

Even better I frightened the life out of a couple of drivers who had never seen one man riding two bikes before, let alone down a main steet.

So here’s a photo tribute to some hired and borrowed bike experiences. If one day in Vancouver matches these it will be worth it.

Oreti Beach -   Invercargill - New Zealand

Ben – Oreti Beach – Invercargill – New Zealand

Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark, early morning ride

Amazing time coming up – Ireland, Vancouver, Whistler….and learning to tweet @maynekevin


With just a week to go until I leave with the rest of the ECF team to attend Velo-city Global 2012 in Vancouver it has just hit me what amazing four weeks I have coming up.

This week it is off to Dublin for the Dublin Cycling Campaign conference which is focussing on participation and equality, especially cycling for women. Muireann O’Dea, Dublin Cycling Campaign’s new Chairperson talks about it here.

The day before the conference I am running a workshop in Dublin with the participants in VOCA The “Volunteers of Cycling” Academy (VOCA) Project. The two year project brings together small cycling advocacy groups from 11 European cities. Dublin, Seville (Spain), Nicosia (Cyprus), Vienna (Austria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Maribor (Slovenia), Prague (Czech Republic), Budapest (Hungary), Warsaw (Poland), Lisbon (Portugal) and Bucharest (Romania).

They are the great group I met on tour in Austria and I’ll be working with them to look at how we can improve the up and coming cyclists groups across Europe. Excitingly I’m running the same workshop in Vancouver where I’ll be joined by Jeff Miller from the Alliance for Bicycling and Walking who do amazing stuff with community cycling groups all across the US.

After the conference I’m spending about two weeks in British Columbia. Couple of days around Vancouver and the “lads” of ECF will meet to watch the European Cup Final (soccer to US and Canadian followers). Then off to Whistler – just booked two days guided mountain bke riding on the legendary trails. Three days touring across the mountains, then staying with an old school friend for a week before I have to get back to the UK to see Bruce Springsteen in Hyde Park, London, my wife’s Christmas present.

No idea how all that is going to hang together, not least because the cycle tour in Canada depends on me buying a recycled bike in Vancouver!

But to make it all come to life I have gone over to the dark side, star man Julian at ECF got me fired up to the potential for twitter. So now you can hopefully follow the tour by tweet too, although I feel like a bit of a numpty at the moment. @maynekevin for what its worth.