Cycling Tips: Jericho Beach, Locarno Park, Spanish Banks

Flat roads and views of the ocean, beach, and North Shore remind you why Vancouver is so beautiful.

This (somewhat) bike-friendly stretch of road runs from West 4th Avenue on the east end to Northwest Marine Drive by East Mall on the west end. It is beautiful, with beautiful views of the sea in its entirety.

Half of the stretch has an unpartitioned dedicated bike lane (east), while the other half (west) will require riding on the side of a fairly wide road. This stretch of road is well paved, minus a couple of large construction embankments (which are easily avoidable with due diligence).

Both the east and west “entrance” to this stretch is a hill. In the east, the hill stretches from West 2nd to 4th Avenue, through Jericho. The hill is less than half a kilometer long at most, with a gradient of about four percent. All bikes and fitness levels should be able to do it, although it could be strenuous.

To the west is Spanish Banks Hill. This is much longer at just over two kilometers. The average rating is just over three percent, but it can exceed five percent at some points, especially on its eastern side. With Spanish Banks Hill, you can ride on the side of the road or across the concrete barrier on the paved trail. The road has much better pavement; The paved road is extremely bumpy which can make the climb difficult.

Spanish Banks can be quite an effort if you are not on a bike with gears or if your physical condition is not the best. If that’s the case, just take it easy and rest assured that you’ll eventually make it to the top. Worst case scenario, you can always get on the paved road and walk your bike to the top.

This is a great stretch of road to enjoy in the summer. Flat roads and views of the ocean, beach, and North Shore remind you why Vancouver is so beautiful.

That said, a couple of notes. Please be extremely alert. That particular stretch of road is very busy (obviously) during the summer as everyone is trying to get to the beach. Cars are often inattentive as they search for parking, either make sharp turns without signaling, or just sit in the bike lane, waiting for cars to leave parking spaces. Also, although the posted speed limit is 30 km/h, drivers tend to go much faster. Cars may show you that they are not happy with the posted speed limit by honking at you or driving aggressively close by.

You can avoid this stress by taking the gravel road parallel to NW Marine Drive. Gravel is very compact and all bikes (even with the skinniest road tires) can easily navigate. The caveat is that the path is shared with pedestrians. On busy days, this also presents a host of dangers: pedestrians on the bike side of the road, children being children, dogs off leash or on a leash, and much more. My personal advice is to be respectful and go slowly. The gravel path is shared, and pedestrians have the right to enjoy it on foot without being frightened by a passing bicycle. If you want to go fast, stay on the road.

Brian Lim likes to ride his bike (sometimes with his camera). He’s a complete and consummate hobbyist, both in cycling and photography, and he says he doesn’t take himself seriously, and neither should you. Lim wants to share his love of cycling, so please reach out if he wants to talk! You will find it on Instagram at @wheelsandwhisky.

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