Though the addition of separated bike lanes to the downtown has brought cycling to the fore in civic conversation, the truth is that Vancouver has been a bike city for decades now. It’s been a slow evolution, from inconvenient bike paths set on out-of-the-way streets to today’s emphasis on a safe, connected network.
Until recently, cycling businesses were mostly limited to bike shops, courier companies, and rentals, with a few pioneers like SPUD taking the lead on eco-friendly bike deliveries. Now, there’s a widening array of bike-powered businesses, encouraged by the growing infrastructure, the mainstreaming of cycling culture, and the shrinking demand for bike couriers. The smaller start up costs of bike-based business makes it a creative space, allowing entry to small-scale ideas that might not make a profit if auto transport had to be factored in.
There’s also been an evolution of support services for cyclists as cycle culture has grown. Amenities like bike corrals and air pumps are being installed across the city. Many events and festivals provide bike valet services. The Farmers’ Market also sets up bike valets at some of its markets, along with free bike delivery of groceries at two of their locations. As more Vancouverites give up their cars and focus on cycling, walking, and public transit to get around, this support will continue to grow. It’s not just singles and childless folks getting into the act, either – Velo Family Diaries is a great account of how pedal-powered living can work for the kind of families typically seen in mini vans or SUVs.
Whether it’s brunch from the Breakfast Courier or secure bike parking at the Folk Festival, I’m happy to take advantage of what this bike city has to offer.
Here’s a sampling:
Groceries, Greens, and Grub
Forget Food Trucks