Biking Vancouver: The Seawall and the Beaver Pond

I always love a city where a sunny day is a cause for celebration. In the Northeast, we’ve always lived that way, we never take a beautiful day for granted. Likewise, and even more so, here in Vancouver, a day with shining sun is a day to get out on a bike or take a long walk along the seawall. Yesterday I joined Craig Stewart to do just that.

I don’t think there could be a nicer combination–a seawall with one side for bikes, and another for walkers and strollers. On one side, the harbor, dotted with giant oil tankers and distant mountains. In view was a local ski area, the trails snaking down in white on the side of the mountain. To the left, Stanley Park, more than 1000 acres of old forest, trails, parkland and more trails. We paused for a while when the seawall was blocked for some maintenance work. We turned into Stanley Park and came upon a beaver pond. This, in metropolitan Vancouver!

Besides Stanley Park, Vancouver boasts more than 300 miles of bike lanes and trails, and as we circumnavigated the city most of our time was in protected bike lanes. Between Chinatown and Gastown, we passed what nearly every Vancouverite I met said was the city’s scourge. Legions of people holding out cups, begging passers by for change. They all cited the climate as the culprit–it’s the warmest city in Canada, and so, those who might choose to beg for a living in a colder place all end up on these streets. I remember when New York City had this problem–squeegee men coming up to cars, intimidating drivers, and people lying everywhere on the streets. They took a hard line and today, New York City is no longer a gauntlet of gimme gimmes.

My sense is that with the wonderful attractions and pretty country right inside the city, maybe they just need to make it a little tougher to be a bum for a living. But riding yesterday, no amount of scary looking peeps could dampen our spirits. It’s a glorious city to bike in.