Update Feb. 9 — Helpful links; bikes banned from Olympic lanes
Visitors to the 2010 Winter Olympics based in Vancouver should certainly consider riding bicycles as the easiest way to get around town.
Of course, people might want to think twice about riding their bicycles to the mountaintop skiing slopes, but bikes should be an ideal choice for accessing the sports complexes, athlete residences and other Olympic venues in the Vancouver area.
Vancouver is one of North America's most bike-friendly cities with 250 miles of bicycle lanes on city streets. [Interactive bike route planner.]
Some of those routes will be closed or altered during the Olympics because of security around the venues or increased numbers of people on foot. But I agree with the Dutch government that the bicycle will be the best form of transportation during the Winter Games; the Netherlands is sending 450 bikes to Vancouver for use by its citizens and officials.
The LiveCity Vancouver celebration site and some Olympic venues are located near the city's popular Seawall, Adanac and Ontario Bikeways. The city is improving other bike routes along East 30th and East 31st Avenues, Bridgeway and Windemere Street to handle bicycle traffic from the neighborhoods. (Click on the map above to see detailed bike routes around Vancouver.)
Some bike routes, however, will be closed to cars and bicycle traffic from noon to midnight Feb. 12 to 28 to handle increased foot traffic. There also are detours for routes that have been closed since Nov. 1 or will be closed beginning Jan. 4.
To ensure that athletes, officials, and others can get to their venues on time, the city of Vancouver has set aside Olympic Lanes throughout downtown and approaching bridges. These are curb lanes marked with the symbol at left and reserved for Olympic-accredited vehicles and TransLink buses. They are not bicycle lanes — see the comment below.
Here's the latest list of Olympic lanes that I could find at the Vancouver Host City website. They're in effect 24/7 from now until March 1. If you're used to riding in the curb lane on your bicycle, you'll want to take a different route or risk a ticket:
- Burrard St, Burrard Bridge to Pender St
- Seymour St, Granville Bridge to Hastings St
- Howe St, Hastings St to Granville Bridge
- Pender St, Cambie St to Howe St
- Cambie St, Cambie Bridge to 59th Ave
- Broadway, Arbutus St to Commercial Dr
- Georgia St, Richards St to the Stanley Park Causeway
- Hastings St, Seymour St to Boundary Rd
Vancouver is making 1,000 bicycle parking spaces available to visitors during the Olympics. Here's a list of those locations:
- Pender St and Cambie St (inside the Easy Park parkade)
- Union St and Quebec St (inside tennis court)
- Pacific Blvd and Nelson St (underneath the bridge)
- Olympic Village Station (between Canada Line and Olympic Line stations)
- Homer St and Pacific Blvd (on street adjacent LiveCity Yaletown)
- Hillcrest St (on Peveril Ave adjacent the Vancouver Olympic Centre/Vancouver Paralympic Centre)
- Pacific Coliseum (along the entry walk from Hastings St)
Bikes on transit
Bicyclists can access public transit in Vancouver as well. Buses can accommodate two bikes each on racks; SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express can carry bikes too. The TransLink website has information about bikes on transit.
Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition — More about getting around the Games.
Interactive bike route planner — How to find your destinations by bicycle
Third Wave Cycling Blog — Observations of Vancouver Olympics and how cycling impacts transportation
The government of The Netherlands plans to send 450 bicycles to Vancouver for use by its athletes, citizens and staff. They'll be parked at the Holland Heineken House, the Dutch hospitality centre at the Olympics.
There's a dispute with Canada over the bikes, however, because they're being purchased outside the country. The Dutch had offered to donate the bikes to local causes, but they'll be charged an import tax if the bikes remain in Canada. No tax if they pack 'em up and ship them back to Amsterdam.