It’s pretty cold, very wet, rather dark. By this time of year, many of Vancouver’s bicyclists have hung up their wheels for the winter, and are waiting for spring to ride again.
But, Snowmaggedon aside, Vancouver enjoys a privilege very few Canadian cities get to enjoy. That is: clear, ice-free bike paths, all year round. It would be an insult to the rest of the country not to use them.
So grab your rain gear and lights, and don’t let a little water get in the way of exploring your city on two wheels. Here are our top 5 reasons to keep biking in Vancouver’s winter.
1 | The Seawall is (Almost) Empty
Anyone who tries to ride the seawall around Stanley Park in the summertime will notice that the route is usually packed. The growing popularity of cycling, combined with Vancouver’s incomparably beautiful recreational routes, makes for a very busy ride in July.
One huge benefit of cycling in winter in Vancouver is the relative calm along the bike paths. So fill a thermos with coffee, grab a friend, and head to the water. Make the most of the only time of year when you can ride two abreast on Vancouver’s scenic seaside loop.
2| Biking is Good for Your Mental Health
Do you get SAD? Around 15% of Canadians suffer from mild forms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, or winter blues. This can be especially difficult in the Pacific Northwest’s cloudy climate. The good news is, exercise is well documented as one of the most effective natural remedies for depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
Numerous studies have also suggested that outdoor exercise provides more significant positive effects to mental well-being than indoor exercise. Getting outside and remaining active through the winter months can make a huge difference for your emotional health. Biking offers all of the benefits of moderate, outdoor exercise, and you can easily sneak it into your daily routine. Bike to the grocery store, feel better!
3 | Bird-Watching is Better in the Winter
It isn’t just bicyclists that enjoy mild west-coast winters. The frigid temperatures that befall the rest of Canada send their birds flocking southwest to take refuge in Vancouver and Victoria’s relatively balmy climates.
Stanley Park, home to over 230 bird species throughout the year, is one of the best places in the region to witness this great annual migration. Barred owls, chickadees, herons, and hundreds of ducks are just a few of the feathery friends you can spot in the park, and a bicycle is the most efficient ways to access its 27km of trails.
The Stanley Park Ecology Society has great resources on urban ornithology. Check out this article for winter-birding specifics.
4 | Your Stouts Will Be Well-Deserved
Winter brings with it all sorts of small joys: heartier food, cozier clothes, and importantly, darker beers.
With so many microbreweries in the city alone–not to mention the proliferation of amazing suburban breweries–there’s no shortage of great places to sample winter’s malty offerings.
Take advantage of a break in the rain for a bicycle tour around Yeast Van. Or go long: head across the Lion’s Gate’s Bridge to ride the Spirit Trail and check out North Van’s burgeoning beer scene. Not long enough for you? Ride out to Port Moody to check out Brewers Row. Pro tip: you can take the skytrain back.
It’s a scientifically unproven but commonly repeated adage that beer tastes better when you’ve earned it. And what better way to earn it than with a fun and frosty bike ride.
5 | It Beats Driving or Taking Transit
Let’s be real for a minute: traffic sucks, parking is expensive, gas is expensive, insurance is expensive, cars are expensive, and the skytrain is very, very busy. (No shade to Translink, we love what you do.)
But sometimes getting around the city can be a real slog. That might be why Vancouver has doubled its bike ridership in the last ten years. Many people are realizing that the affordability and convenience offered by biking are unmatched in any other mode of transport.
However, when the temperature drops and the rain starts falling, ridership drops as well. And to that we say, keep pedalling! Bundle up, bring gloves, stay smiling, and it’ll be spring before you know it.
Read more: Top 5 Tips For Cycling Vancouver In The Fall
Our full-service bike shop and retail store is open 7 days a week, all year round. Drop by at 648 Hornby St for winter-specific bike parts and gear, from wet-weather chain lube to wide tires to Gore-tex hats and rain pants, we’ve got you covered.