Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Why the Arbutus Greenway is Great for Novice Riders

We biked along the Arbutus Greenway with the kids yesterday. It was a fairly epic ride for seven-year-old Linnaeus: he rode from our home to 45th Ave where it met the greenway, all the way down to the north end at 5th & Fir, then from Granville Island to Ontario & 5th Ave. 17km in total on his 20" single speed bike. Bronte, who's almost four, biked 8.5 km, from 45th & Arbutus to 5th & Fir, then along the seawall from Granville Island to Creekside on her teeny 12" bike. (hashtag proud mama) Because we were riding our cargo bikes, the kids were able to hop on & get a tow whenever they needed a break or the route was too hairy for them to navigate the roads.



If you're looking for places to bike with your kids, I recommend the Arbutus Greenway. If you aren't close by, it's quite accessible by transit, or you could drive to one section & park. Here's why I liked it:

Pit stop along the Arbutus Greenway
  1. Smooth sailing! The greenway is all paved now & the asphalt (as of summer 2017) is very smooth to ride on.
  2. Railroads are flat roads. The route has fairly gentle hills, with the "peak" being around 37th Ave.
  3. Follow the lines. There is a line painted down the middle of the path & biking/walking symbols so kids can practice riding in their "lane".
  4. Skip the traffic. On weekdays it's not too busy--we didn't encounter any fast riders, & those who passed us were courteous. I find the seawall is generally busier than that.
  5. Free snacks! There are blackberries along the sides of the route.
  6. When you gotta go... There are toilets along the route--six according to the map. The one we used was just a plastic portable toilet, but it was accessible & there was hand sanitizer.
  7. Stop & play. There are several parks along the greenway with playgrounds. The little park at 6th & Fir has a great newish playground as well as a fun interactive music installation. More on Street Beats here. 
Checking out #StreetBeatsVan at the north end of the Arbutus Greenway
One caveat: the greenway is still a work in progress, particularly when it comes to crossing major arterials. These intersections can be busy & a bit confusing for kids. Some have bike crossings, so you can ride through, some you need to walk through the crosswalk a half block over.

Overall, it's a fun ride & still somewhat "undiscovered" by the tourists, compared to the much busier seawall.

A few resources for you: 

The city has created a map of the greenway--download the PDF here. For more information on the greenway, visit the city's page. Also, check out Let's Go Biking: Colleen has a route plan for going north to south, including lots of photos & directions to get back to the Canada Line.

Happy biking! If you have any other tips or feedback about riding the greenway with littles, please leave them in the comments below!



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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Win 4 Tickets to Bike the Night

Do you bike in the dark very often? I really love riding at night. The hum of the city--particularly vehicle engines & construction noise--is reduced to a whisper. It's great with friends too. We can easily have a conversation as we glide through the cool air.

So obviously, I'm really looking forward to Bike the Night. We went to last year's event & had a blast. Have you heard of it? Here's the deets:

Bike the Night, presented by MEC, happens Saturday, September 16th. HUB Cycling is gathering thousands of cyclists for Vancouver’s only official night ride on city streets!

Experience the beauty & energy of nocturnal Vancouver at its best--by bike. Take in the city skyline as we cruise through car-free Vancouver streets & over the iconic Burrard Bridge. Come at 6pm for a bike festival, the ride leaves at 8pm.

Tickets only $10 for HUB Members ($15 for non-members) until September 1st! Youth and children under 16 are free.

Registration Includes:

  • Entry to win a grand prize from MEC
  • Ride bib/sticker
  • Invitation to the pre-party at 6pm including:
    • Free giveaways
    • Free bike inspection & basic bike maintenance
    • Live DJ - Rennie Foster!
    • Bike decorating station
    • Relay races and games
  • On-road support (mechanical & first aid volunteers)



HUB's Tips for an Awesome Ride:
  • Decked out bikes: Find great lights at MEC and other local bike shops. There will also be free bike decorating for participants at the start location.
  • Costumes: Need creative inspiration? HUB has been brainstorming for you. Find some HERE.
  • Music: Bring your favourite playlist along! Portable bluetooth speakers are great.

Now that you have an idea of how fun it's going to be, here's the best part: you could win four tickets to Bike the Night here on Spokesmama! You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Contest ends on Sunday, August 20, at 11:59pm. The winner will be notified via email, so please make sure you check the email address you registered with Rafflecopter! I'll choose another winner if I don't hear back within 24 hours of sending the email. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway



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Sunday, August 6, 2017

Bronte 3.11

One month to go until our little 8-ball is four. This was a big one: she learned to ride her bike without training wheels & then that's all she wanted to do. Except squabble with her brother. Always a lot of that. Sigh. Here are some photos of the month:

Bronte loves drag queen style

Biking in Mountainview

Mmm... blue cake icing

Won a basket at Bike to Shop Days

She pretty much always looks ferocious when she eats

Training wheels are OFF

Holding baby cousin Marcus

Meeting Scout at CBC Kids Day 

B's first fireworks, I think?

Balloon hoarding at the HUB Bike Host Picnic

Looking fabulous in the Pride Parade

Conked out at the Richmond Night Market



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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Kids Day at CBC Musical Nooners

Looking for something to do the first week in August? Kids' Day at Musical Nooners is back on August 2nd! If you haven't already, the concerts are family-friendly & a great way to introduce children to live music concerts. The best part? It's all free!

August 2nd at Will Stroet of Will’s Jams from CBC Kids will be on stage to delight young fans & their parents alike. Guests can mingle with Scout from CBC Kids’ & Parka from Parks Canada, make creations at the craft centre & participate in an adventurous scavenger hunt.

If you're busy on the 2nd, there's also Aché Brasil on August 15th. This concert is a great way to introduce children to music from different countries, the group takes over the CBC Vancouver Musical Nooners stage with exciting music, cultural dance, & breath-taking acrobatics.

CBC is putting on 35 concerts in total -- there'll be amazing music all summer long. Now in its 8th year, the CBC Vancouver’s Musical Nooners free concert series runs Monday - Friday, from noon to 1pm, at the CBC Broadcast Centre at 700 Hamilton Street (between Robson & Georgia) from July 7th – August 25th.

For more information on the Musical Nooners series & CBC in British Columbia, go to www.cbc.ca/bc or follow them on Twitter @CBCVancouver or #musicalnooners.


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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Beginner Biking in Mountainview Cemetery


Despite the fact that we bike pretty much everywhere, the kids actually don't ride their own bikes that much. Linnaeus was riding on the road to & from school, plus longer rides on the weekends last summer, but since he got a larger bike with only hand brakes, he isn't road safe again. He needs time to practice & get used to this new bike so that he can stop reliably.

But finding the time & place to practice hasn't been that easy. Our back lane is a great place to ride... when there aren't impatient drivers rat running through it. If we go to a park, the bikes get left behind in favour of the playground or the wading pool. We do have a driveway, but it's not really big enough for Linny to ride around that much.

Just a couple of days ago, I decided to bring the kids up to Mountainview Cemetery for a practice ride. We used to commute to Linny's school through Mountainview while we were at the swing site during the seismic rebuild, but this was the first time we'd gone there just to ride. We towed Linny's bike on our Yuba Mundo & carried Bronte's bike in the Bakfiets to get there, as it's a couple kilometres uphill from us. Once we were in the cemetery, we let them free on their bikes & they rode around for about an hour.

If you haven't been there before, it's a great place to learn to ride with lots of paved roads throughout all the sections of the cemetery, but very little traffic. We saw fewer than ten cars in the hour or so that we were there. The hills are great for helping new riders get some momentum up to start pedalling, & also to learn how to do things like standing up to pedal uphill. Because of all the intersections, you can also practice turns & hand signals.

After we'd been riding for a while, we stopped in the shade under a big tree for a snack. There isn't a lot of seating like benches in Mountainview, but there are quite a few places with a patch of open grass, so you don't necessarily have to sit right on someone's grave. There are always a few neighbourhood dog walkers around, plus the occasional person driving in to place flowers on a grave, but generally, we have the place to ourselves.

The kids had fun & both of them got in some good practice riding, so I think we'll go back more often. Have you ever biked in Mountainview Cemetery? Got any suggestions of other good places for little kids to practice riding in East Van?


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