Our intrepid traveller, Kev, recently spent two weeks travelling in North America. While his main purpose was to catch up with his brother in Vancouver, he took the time to sample the cycling opportunities in both Vancouver and Seattle. And as can be seen from the photos he also gave the 5Men riding jersey a couple of airings on foreign soil.
The comments below are taken from a discussion on our most recent ride.
While in Seattle, Kev took advantage of the Pronto Cycle Share scheme, Seattle’s cycle sharing system featuring 500 bikes at 50 stations located throughout the city. Pronto bikes are available 24/7, 365 days a year, with the first 30 minutes of each session at no charge. It is compulsory to wear a helmet when biking, so helmets are also available at the bike stations (clearly not a fashion item though Kev).
Kev reports that there is an extensive network of trails in and around Seattle to provide a wide range of biking experiences. Many are shared trails on which cyclists share the space with walkers, runners, skaters, and a variety of other activities. Many trails for recreational and commuter cyclists offer parallel alternate on-street routes for fast riders.
Unfortunately, Seattle is also a hilly place, and the Pronto bikes have only a limited range of gears. That’s not a problem when sticking to the inner city trails, but requires some extra effort if you detour onto some of the side trails through wineries and breweries, and around Lake Washington.
And riding on the right was also a challenge – having to break the habits of a lifetime to move right instead of left to avoid approaching riders!
While there is currently no shared bike scheme operating in Vancouver (the city is planning to introduce a scheme in the near future) Vancouver is well-served with a network of cycle trails, and hire bikes are readily available at competitive rates. See Cycling in Vancouver.
The city has also invested heavily in developing protected bike lanes, with concrete medians and planters, bicycle parking corrals, or vehicle parking lanes that divide them from vehicle traffic. Bike racks are available throughout the city, and dedicated air-pumps are also available at some sites.
With the right infrastructure in place – and planned to expand – cycling is a popular pastime in Vancouver, for both recreational and commuting cyclists.