At present, my daily bike commute takes me from Strathcona to Harbour Centre, which houses the Vancouver campus of Simon Fraser University, and is where I go to school. The ride takes me about 10-15 minutes each way, depending on how tired I am and how much junk I’ve been eating.
I utilize bike-only infrastructure pretty much the entire way there. First, there’s Union Street, a major east-west bikeway in East Vancouver called Adanac, then I hop onto the two-directional separated bike lane on the Dunsmuir viaduct, and then head up Dunsmuir (also a separated bike lane). At Richards Street I turn right for a two block downhill, then at Hastings take the sidewalk at a snail’s pace (it’s good Bike PR) until I turn into the building’s largest bike parking area.
Getting home is mostly the same in reverse, but on the Dunsmuir viaduct I get awesome views of the mountains, and it’s a prime viewing spot to see Science World all lit up at night, which is one of my favorite things about Vancouver.
With a few awesome exceptions (most notably anyone involved with Velopalooza!), Vancouver cyclists have largely not impressed me much. Many people ride crappy or boring bikes simply out of an assumption that their ride is going to get stolen. There’s a definite Vancouver cyclist “look,” and it involves a hybrid mountain bike with stick-straight handlebars, wearing tight cycling pants and a bright rain jacket. Booo-ring. Most people go really fast—although perhaps that’s partially because they’re warmed up by the time they get so close to town, or because I’m not in shape due to riding less than a half-hour per day the last seven months! My fellow commuters haven’t struck me as being particularly concerned with safety, even if it means good Bike PR.
Sure, there are people who don’t fit in that cookie cutter image, but in general, sitting at a window and bike-watching isn’t nearly as delightful here as it is in Portland. In eight months I’ve only seen a couple tallbikes, a couple Xtracycles, no Bakfiets (probably because of the hills), and certainly no Skuuts.
But then again, graduate school doesn’t give you a lot of quality bike time…