Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Bicycle Diaries: Episode Seven

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We took a short break in Whistler, and to reduce the cost (renting a bike there costs $45 a day) we put the bikes on the rack on my Yaris. Despite it having a small fuel efficient engine, and having to climb the Sea to Sky the extra weight and wound resistance was barely noticeable, and the Horstmann House includes bicycle storage among its facilities – as well a wi-fi which I did not get to use very much! Bikes in summer are Whistler’s stock in trade – just as skis and snowboards are in winter. A lot of young people like coming down the mountains at fearsome speeds on expensive little bikes with disc brakes.

Bike Commuting Whistler style

They of course have to pay for lift passes to do that, but there are a very wide range of routes for them to use. We used our passes for sightseeing – not that there was much due to thick cloud on both mountains. There are also a wide variety of trails in the Valley that do not require any pass. It is worth getting the bike map information centre in the village – which is quite different to the ones issued by the mountain, and show a similar range of trails, and their degree of difficulty. It is worth thinking about this before you go. If you are going to be using the gravel trails, especially those with steep hills you will need nobbly tyres, as the gravel can be loose and slippery. We tried an easy trail around Lost Lake on bikes with smooth road tires and I came off in a pool of loose gravel that buried the front wheel rim and tipped me over the handlebars. Bruising and gravel rash were the only injuries but enough to cause some discomfort.

The valley trail system does have lots of marked on road routes for transportation around the village as well as recreational multi use trails a lot of which are well paved and very well marked. The combination of the resort municipality’s map and the excellent signage is enough to keep everyone on the right path.

Round the lake

There is also a much longer distance trail along the Sea to Sky part of which is incorporated into the village system. We managed to spend a pleasant day just twiddling along from one end for he village to the other, seeing the lakes on the way and stopping for some very good Samurai Sushi by diverting up to Whistler Creek on the highway.

Also worthy of note is that the centre of Whistler is pedestrians only. It is basically an open air version of a shopping mall – not straight or direct as a walking route. But since much accommodation is located over the shops – mixed use, what a clever idea – there are a lot of people walking their bikes to and from their lodging. And a few who seem incapable of getting off them: they are usually wearing Darth Vader helmets and armour too.

The paved bike routes have yellow centre lines and cyclists and pedestrians alike seem to be better at observing them than any separation system at work here. Though levels of use when we were there were nothing like as heavy as the Seawall on a sunny day.

Vancouver can copy the mixed use in retail areas. It ought by now to have achieved much more pedestrianization but I suppose getting separated bike lanes was hard enough and, as far as I know, those barriers seem to be deterring parkers too.

Written by Stephen Rees

July 30, 2011 at 10:47 am

Posted in bicycles

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