*The death of cyclist Charles Masala on June 29 has produced a lot of questions from NOW readers about just where they can safely ride their bikes, so we're reprinting this 2015 piece that provides some insight.
Curious about cycling in Burnaby but don’t know where to start? Perhaps you would like to commute by bike, skip the gym and save money on gas? Maybe you already ride but are looking for a new route or you’re wondering where you can take your kids? The NOW consulted local cyclists from HUB Burnaby and the Burnaby Mountain Bike Association to come up with this list of the best routes in the city. Cycling is a great way to stay fit while reducing stress and greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve also got tips to keep you well into fall and winter.
If you’re looking for a fast, flat route to cut across Burnaby, the Central Valley Greenway wins hands down. The greenway stretches from Vancouver’s Science World all the way to New Westminster and runs west to east across Burnaby.
It’s also a safe space for family rides, since much of the route is isolated from traffic, apart from a deviation down Winston Street. There are stretches of the Central Valley Greenway that also make for lovely scenic rides, like the section west of the Sperling-Burnaby Lake SkyTrain Station with cool, shady patches, songbirds, wildflowers and tiny creeks.
If you head east from Cariboo Road into New Westminster towards Hume Park, the section along the Brunette River is just lovely.
Tenth Avenue in south Burnaby is a major thoroughfare for drivers, but there’s also a parallel cycling option on 12th Avenue. It’s a quiet residential street with much less traffic. You can bike down 12th Avenue from Langley Street (not far from Cariboo Road) past Canada Way and Kingsway, all the way to 15th Street. Then, take a right up to Stride Avenue and turn left and you’ll eventually connect to our next suggestion, the B.C. Parkway.
The B.C. Parkway runs alongside the Expo Line SkyTrain route, which traverses Burnaby, and it’s mostly flat and isolated from traffic. There’s a lovely stretch through Central Park, too. If you get tired along the way, just hop on the SkTrain at the next station.
Burnaby Mountain is a well-known destination for Lower Mainland mountain bikers and hiker alike.
Most of the biking trails are part of the network on the east side of the mountain, so you entre off University Drive, the ring road around SFU. Try the new Sidewinder Trail for a smooth, flowing ride with no stunts. If you’re more into tricks, opt for Nicole’s Trail, but be forewarned, it’s a black diamond trail for advanced riders. Burnaby Mountain also has a lot of options for beginners, too. Connect with the Burnaby Mountain Bike Association on Facebook for all the latest updates from trail riders, and check out the city’s trail map, complete with levels of difficulty. Just remember, local streamkeepers have raised concerns about sensitive habitat in the Stoney Creek watershed, so stay on the trails and tread lightly.
For a healthy dose of nature, try this loop: Go past Squint Lake by the Burnaby Mountain Golf Course, around Forest Grove and up Gaglardi Way, then around University Drive, circumventing SFU, then west down Burnaby Mountain Parkway until you hit Duthie Avenue. The views are lovely, and you’ll get a great workout while you’re at it.
Escape from the city with the Discovery Place Trail in central Burnaby. Begin your trip on the west side and cut across Moscrop Secondary so you will come out on Wayburne Drive. Then head south until you hit the entrance for the West Forest Trail and make your way around Deer Lake. The whole beginner-level trip is roughly 10 kilometres, and it’s nearly all trails.
Take the kids to the Fraser Foreshore path, which stretches from Burnaby into Vancouver. The route is flat and wide and completely cut off from traffic, so it’s safe for children. There’s also lots to see, like boats on the river or water birds, which will keep the wee ones entertained. Pack some goodies and have lunch at one of the many picnic tables overlooking the water. There are washroom facilities, too.
If you’re looking for a circular route, Central Park by Metrotown is perfect for a family outing. The trails are wide and couldn’t be further from traffic, and there are tons of things to do in the park to keep kids busy.
How to keep cycling through the seasons
- Clothes: Invest in some proper raingear to stay warm and dry. Your under layer should be synthetic or wool; you want something that wicks away sweat and dries easily. A Gore-Tex jacket will keep water out, and it’s breathable, so you won’t overheat. Opt for some rain pants if you have a longer commute. You may want to pick up a cycling hat to wear under your helmet to keep the rain from getting in, or a wooly headband that fits over your ears. Make sure your panniers are also waterproof, so you can bring a dry change of clothes. A pair of cheap, clear glasses are a good idea to keep the rain out of your eyes. Or, if you wear glasses normally, those will do. Gloves and shoe covers are another option to keep your extremities dry. Some riders embrace the rain and accept that they will get a little wet, so it’s up to you how much you want to spend to stay comfortable.
- Be visible: As the days get shorter wetter, visibility is much more important. Make sure you have lights on the front and back of your bike. Choose clothes in bright colours, so drivers can see you. There are all kinds of reflector bands you can wear to increase visibility.
- Equipment: Invest in some mudguards or decent fenders to keep the muck from spraying up your backside. Go easy on your brakes, too, because they tend to erode faster in wet conditions.
- Safety: Don’t ride through puddles where you can’t see the bottom. You have no idea what’s under there; it could be a gaping pit. Pay extra attention at the beginning of a rainfall, too, because that’s when the road can be the most slippery. Ease up, just like you would while driving, and take corners carefully.