Depending on the exact start and end points, what many Vancouver cyclists refer to as the “UBC Expressway” is an approximately four kilometer stretch of highway between West 16th (UBC Botanical Garden) and West 41st avenues. It is not a divided or dedicated bike path per se, but it is a route used regularly by both recreational cyclists and commuters.
Traveling east from West 16th to West 41st, SW Marine Drive is a very slight decline. On a road bike, it is very possible to reach 40 km/h, and even faster with the right legs and a tailwind. Traveling west, the incline is small enough that all cyclists will have little trouble completing the section of road, although some effort may be required (an incline that is minimal and also visually appears flat to often called “false flat” by cyclists).
The area that cyclists ride is actually the shoulder of SW Marine Drive. The north and south sides of SW Marine Drive on this stretch have generous shoulders, wide enough to allow bicyclists to comfortably pass other bicyclists. Most of this section of highway also has “no stopping” signs for cars, so generally speaking, there is very little reason for bicyclists to need to move into the car lanes.
This route allows cyclists to connect with UBC (Wreck Beach, UBC, Spanish Backs/Jericho); to Vancouver West off SW Marine Drive (endowment lands, Camosun, 41st Avenue, 49th Avenue, 57th Avenue); and even to the Arbutus Greenway and beyond to Richmond.
1. There are some points where traffic interaction may occur (Eastbound via SW Marine Drive Viewpoint; Westbound via Westbrook Mall and W16th Avenue). Please Be Careful; drivers are often looking for other cars and not bicyclists.
2. The shoulder is generally clean during the summer. However, if the weather is not dry, the shoulder may be full of debris. As always, keep an eye out ahead.
3. Many recreational cyclists travel this section at high speed. If you are riding this section quickly, be respectful of slower bicyclists and verbally announce your presence.
4. Because the speed limit on the specific segment of the highway is 80 km/h, cars in the lane closest to the shoulder can pass at an almost terrifying speed. If you don’t feel comfortable being around fast-moving traffic, you can drive further to the right of the shoulder. Also note that buses entering and leaving UBC frequent this stretch, and its larger footprint can sometimes even create a wake-type effect, pulling or pushing you from your original line of travel.
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.