And, of course, cyclists. More than any other North American city Iâ€™ve visited, Vancouver was filled with people young and old cruising around on two wheels. After several hours on foot exploring parks and gardens, I was sure of one thing: The bicyclists were seeing more and having the most fun.
The next day I returned to beaches with a bike of my own and before long was gliding, barely pedaling, around the Seaside Greenway. The greenway forms a large loop around much of downtown Vancouver and Stanley Park, the 1,000-plus-acre forest that from the air looks like a floppy cap at the tip of the cityâ€™s core. Itâ€™s a cyclistâ€™s and walkerâ€™s paradise â€” with dedicated lanes for each â€” that is fast becoming a kind of futuristic riff on bike havens like Amsterdam and Copenhagen.
Two things make Vancouver an ideal cycling destination for travelers. First, since the late 1990s the city has invested heavily in “active transit,” mainly bike and pedestrian paths. The result is not just the scenic Seaside Greenway, but a network of connected bicycle paths that crisscross downtown. If youâ€™ve never biked in a dense urban setting, Vancouver is the place to try. Itâ€™s safe, easy and a good way to get to places such as the historic Gastown neighborhood. Even the drivers seemed good-natured and accommodating about sharing the road.
The abundance of bike rental shops is another reason Vancouver is a biking destination. In most of the city I was never far from a rental bike and there were several shops within a two-minute walk of my hotel in the West End. A four-hour bike rental will cost less than $20.