Ever been on the Sploop? Wondering what the heck that even means? Here's an expert rider's guide to taking a ride through beautiful Stanley Park on what could very well be Vancouver's most well-known bike route.
Where: Stanley Park
Why: Perhaps Vancouver’s most iconic bike route. A bit of exercise, a bit of scenery – Stanley Park offers a little of everything.
Difficulty: The Stanley Park Loop (or “Sloop” or “Sploop” as it is often called) is an enclosed circuit, just under 10 km in length. In its current iteration, the loop travels the perimeter of the park on a dedicated lane on Stanley Park Drive. Concrete barriers were installed this summer to physically separate the car lane from the bike lane. The loop is mostly flat, with one climb (the Prospect Point climb) and descent. The climb is just over a kilometre in length and can be difficult on a heavier bike with less gearing (for example a Mobi or a tandem bicycle), but for most bikes and cyclists, it is a readily conquerable feature.
How to get there by bicycle: Located downtown, there are many ways to access the park. Most commonly, people take Beach Avenue as there is a dedicated bike path separated from traffic. Alternatively, you can take either seawall bike path (Stanley Park Seawall Path or the Coal Harbour seawall) to enter the park, depending on the direction you wish to enter the park.
Stanley Park is generally safe since the bike lane is partitioned from the car lane. That being said, riders should be (always) attentive and careful for the following reasons:
- There are many tourists in the park – both on bikes and in cars. They often get distracted by the scenery or by their search for a parking spot. Please take responsibility for your own safety and be wary when approaching/passing other vehicles.
- People are in the park for many reasons: some to sightsee, some to exercise, some to train. As a result, cyclists can do their loops at very different speeds. Please ensure that you indicate to someone that you are passing with a friendly “passing on your right/left,” and please ensure you are aware of your surroundings enough so that you can hear such a call (that is, do not listen to your music so loud that you can’t hear people yelling at you).
- The barriers and the consequent flow of bike/car traffic have created a couple of areas where cyclists should take more caution- particularly at the bottom of the descent after Prospect Point, by the Teahouse in Stanley Park restaurant. Cars can cross through the bike lane to access parking. People also ride up that section of road to get to Third Beach, though I think it is technically a one-way bike lane.
- In the fall, the bike lane can be covered in leaves; be careful not to slip.
- COYOTES and CANADA GEESE.
A nice benefit of Stanley Park is that there are washrooms/water fountains everywhere through the park: by the Stanley Park information booth, by the totem poles, by the water park, at the top of Prospect Point.
In the summer, Prospect Point has a wonderful café/ice cream shop. It is such a nice treat after you’ve sweated your way up the hill. Another bike-friendly stop near Stanley Park is Café Villaggio in Coal Harbour (across from Cardero's). There’s plenty of patio seating, a lot of space to lean your bike against, and awesome pastries.
Brian Lim likes to ride bikes (sometimes with his camera). He's a complete and consummate amateur - both in cycling and in photography, and says he doesn't take himself seriously - and neither should you. Lim wants to share his love of cycling, so please reach out if you want to talk! You'll find him on Instagram at @wheelsandwhisky.