Lost and found in Vancouver’s bike network

This post originally appears on my cycling blog, The Big Ring

To say Princess of Pavement is directionally challenged would be an understatement.

Over the course of our relationship, I’ve spent hours on the phone trying to guide her to a destination, navigate her way through stress and tears.

So when she declared she wanted to do some bike rides during her two-week break between school semesters with an eye to learning some new routes she could eventually do solo, I knew I had to keep things simple.

Mario Bartel storyteller blogger cyclist photographer
The Princess of Pavement takes a break in Ocean View cemetery in Burnaby.

Considering I’m still learning the quirks and nauances of Vancouver’s extensive bike network, that can be easier said than done.

Since joining a cycling group and connecting with other cyclists who are veterans of the peaceable routes that bisect and criss cross Metro Vancouver’s suburbs and the city’s diverse neighbourhoods, I’ve come to appreciate their slower, safer pace away from the road ragers that often pollute busy thoroughfares. But sometimes I get lost.

The cycling network in the suburbs can be a bit of a gong show; designated routes lead nowhere, signage is sporadic or they’re poorly positioned along roads already busy with speeding, impatient motorists.

Vancouver’s network is much more established, better refined. But sometimes it befuddles me.

The twists and turns a route takes to traverse a busy traffic route can be confusing; why does the Ridgeway route on 37th Avenue suddenly take me to 38th Avenue?

Signage is sometimes lacking or ambiguous, especially at the junctions where multiple routes converge or cross.

The names of some routes don’t always correspond to the street names they mostly follow.

So it was with some trepidation the Princess and I set out to find some routes she could navigate for a couple of hours without getting lost, that offered some identifiable landmarks she could use to reassure herself she was on course.

Alas, I got us lost.

The route I followed was one I’d ridden plenty of times. But that was always west to east; going the opposite way it looked different, the ascents were now descents, the landmarks I was used to seeing on my right were now on my left.

Fortunately getting lost along a bike route isn’t entirely unpleasant; there are new discoveries to make, different houses to appreciate or scorn, unknown neighbourhood parks to see.

Mario Bartel storyteller blogger cyclist photographer
Homeward bound and all smiles.

A few twists, turns and feeble excuses and we were back on track. And I was a little humbled..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s