White Rock to Vancouver by Bike

I like my bikes.

This probably isn't a surprise. I also like working and earning money so I can do fun things like eat and ride bikes. When you do not live in the same place that you work, there is a certain class of individual who enjoys bikes and feels that one of the better ways to travel from home to work and vice versa is with said bicycle.

This is the subject of today's chat.

When I moved to White Rock, I knew that I would most likely be riding my bike to work on a regular basis. I did the usual searching via google and came to the conclusion that not too many people commuted by bike from my neck of the woods to Vancouver. The distance was mildly intimidating, from my work location in Gastown, I was looking at somewhere in the ballpark of a 60km ride one way to get to work. This isn't an everyday ride for someone like me.

Fortunately, the bus system in the Lower Mainland is pretty good. Bike racks that can take two bikes are found on all buses, which is a great shortcut. My commuting career started by taking the bus to just over the Oak Street Bridge and riding from there. Later I expanded to routes through UBC but knew I was just delaying the inevitable and had to make the attempt to ride the whole way. I have now done the White Rock to Gastown ride enough times that I can make some recommendations to anyone who is interested in doing the same thing.

First, some links:

Cycling Route Planner

White Rock -> South West Vancouver

The Cycling Route Planner is a great resource for general cycling routes. However, I would note that it is far better suited to getting around Vancouver itself. The suggested route it comes up with from White Rock is a bit questionable, though certainly plausible.  The second link is my usual route to get from here to there. Once I hit Vancouver, depending on how I'm feeling I will go through UBC or directly up the Cypress bike route and over the Burrard Street Bridge. There is lots of information on riding around Vancouver, so I won't talk much about that right now.

This is my getting to work route, coming back would be mildly different to avoid some of the left turns. Starting off, going down 152nd Street to 40th Avenue and turning left, while slightly further than going down King George, allows you to skip the King George/Hwy 99 overpass, which is not the most entertaining of options. The right lane does turn off, which means that a merge across is needed. Not a problem, but sometimes it's a bit more stressful than I really need at the start of the ride. On 40th, once you hit King George, take a right to the Colebrook road offramp thing just before the overpass and then a left on Colebrook itself to go under the bridge. Colebrook goes along the flats and ends with a right turn and then up the hill. Stay on this road until it ends at 56th Ave and take a left there. Down the hill, take a right on Scott Road and the first leg is done.

I should note that the Colebrook route does involve a 500m long climb at something like 12%. This is a much less busy route than taking King George up to Hwy 10, but it's worth pointing out. If that kind of hill does not appeal to your knees, continue straight on King George, go through Hwy 10 and use the crosswalk button to cross King George. The left turn lights do not turn for a lone biker, so it can be frustrating if there is traffic, but no cars turning left with you. Take Hwy 10 to Scott Road and take a right. There is a pretty big shoulder along here.

Scott Road, when I ride to work on it at around 7AM is not terribly busy. Your mileage may vary. Take Scott Road to 72nd, up and over the hill and left on 72nd. 72nd -> 116th Street and right. 116th Street is a bike route and is fairly pleasant. Up to 84th and left, finally down to Brooke Road and a right. Take Brooke down to River road and when traffic finally breaks, hang a left.

Depending on how you do this, this next little stretch can be a bit nerve wrecking. There is a lot of truck traffic along this road, though it is wide enough, it does get tight from time to time. If you are a confident rider, as you go under the alex fraser bridge, merge into the car lane to take a left on Nordel. If you're a bit more timid, there is a crosswalk that I have used on particularly busy days.

From here, get yourself over to the parking lot of Planet Ice through the industrial park. From there, the walkway up to the bridge goes from behind the building. Stay to the right as you enter the parking lot and you can't miss it.

The Alex Fraser Bridge itself is pretty self explanatory. You can't really take a wrong turn up there. Once you have come down the other side, you will end up on a sidewalk with an off ramp to your left. The easiest way to do this next bit is cross the off ramp over to the lights, then take a right across the crosswalk. The little path continues on the other side and takes you over another bridge and then down some entertaining switchbacks.

At the bottom of the pedestrian walkway, you want to follow the little bike path away from the road that you are now beside. This bike path puts you into a dead end beside an off leash dog park. Start cycling down the street while keeping an eye open to your left. There is a bike path that goes over Highway 91 and you want to take that. Coming down from that bike overpass, take it really easy as you are going to take a very tight turn at the bottom and go in the opposite direction. This path spits you out on Westminster Highway.

Take a left on Westminster and the first right onto River Road. Enjoy.

Once you're on River Road, there isn't much else to say. Essentially the next 15km or so is straight with a couple of right turns. (And one left at a T intersection, but right is an obvious dead end, so it's not hard to get). The new bridge over the Fraser River, accessible from Van Horne way is not something you will miss as you continue, take that over and you are into Vancouver.

Well done.

A few last points, unless you really have to, I'd suggest staying away from the Heather Street bike route during the school year if you commute in the mornings. There are several schools and associated dangers with parents randomly stopping to drop kids off. Fun times.

Lengthy, hopefully useful for some of you. Cheers.