Cycling Tips

Cycling should be safe and enjoyable. Learn more about the rules of the road and other tips which can make biking safer and easier.

Getting Started

  • If you need a bike, the Bike Kitchen, UBC’s non- profit bike shop run by the AMS Bike Co-op, can find a bike for you and take care of all of your maintenance needs for a very reasonable cost. For more info, visit their website or call 604.82.SPEED (827.7333).
  • Helmets, bells and lights are mandatory in BC. Replace your helmet every few years (the materials can break down over time, or become damaged by long-term ‘wear and tear.’
  • Take a look at a bike route map and select a route that looks like it’ll work for you.
  • Explore different routes to and from UBC. There are plenty of different ones to choose from and some will suit your needs better than others. From major roads to traffic-calmed residential streets and even a seaside path – you can take your pick and mix it up!
  • Pick a nice day – the better the conditions and the more fun you can make it, the easier it will be to do again.
  • Ride part of the way to campus; you can start or finish your trip by bus. Put your bike on one of the easy-to-use racks attached to the front of the buses and grab a seat! This is also a great option if you get a flat during your ride.
  • Start slow and simple. Commit to cycling once or twice a week to give yourself time to get used to it.
  • Riding in traffic: Stay off the sidewalks and ride with the direction of the traffic. Use hand signals when turning or slowing down, and wear visible/reflective clothing. If you’d like to improve your skills and safety, try taking the VACC’s Commuter Cycling Skills course. Or, you can drop by Transportation Planning and pick up a copy of Bike Sense, the BC Bicycle Operator’s Manual.
  • Winter – a.k.a. ‘wet season’ (Nov. to Mar.): Vancouver is a wet city, but if you are properly equipped, rain is bearable and can even be fun! If you plan on cycling in the rain, be sure to have a warm pair of gloves, a waterproof-breathable rain jacket and pants, fenders, and booties (covers for your shoes). Take an extra pair of clothes to change into and put the wet ones in a locker to dry. 
  • Even if it is raining, you can cycle year round in Vancouver, which has a mean annual temperature of 11 degrees Celsius (52 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Still unsure? Try riding in with a friend! If you don’t know any cyclists, contact the AMS Bike Co-op and pair up with an experienced bike buddy for your first trip or two. Call 604.822.2453 or shoot them an e-mail here.

Bike Fitting and Maintenance

  • A good bike costs less than $200 per year (after purchase price) to maintain and use on a daily basis – compare this to $7600 per year for a car in BC.
  • Make sure that you get a bike that’s sized correctly, has the right seat height and is the right kind of bike for what you’re doing. Good, appropriate equipment will be safer, better for your body and more fun to use!
  • The AMS Bike Co-Op can help you with repairs and maintenance, as well as free (for members) bicycle borrowing privileges! For more info on the AMS Bike Co-op and other on-campus resources, visit our on-campus cycling page.

Rules of the Road

  • Cyclists have the same rights and duties as motorists.
  • Having a helmet, bell and lights is mandatory for cyclists in B.C. Not having one can bring a hefty fine, so be sure you’re properly equipped before heading out!
  • The George Massey Tunnel Bicycle Shuttle (Tel: 604.574.3164) provides a free summer shuttle service through the George Massey Tunnel, which is illegal to ride through. This operates on Highway 99 between Richmond & Delta and is helpful for cyclists travelling from Vancouver to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal and back.
  • Take a Commuter Cycling Skills Class, offered by the Vancouver Area Cycling Coaltion. If you’re nervous about riding in traffic, or feel you could use some pointers on safe cycling, this one-day course may be the perfect solution. The Commuter Cycling Skills Course takes you through the most common situations you’ll face when you ride your bike in traffic. It also provides you with tips to make cycle commuting a fun and regular part of your life. The course combines classroom and on-road training. You’ll learn to:
    • ride safely and confidently in traffic
    • check your bike for safety
    • adjust your bike to fit you
    • ride at night and in the rain
    • choose equipment and clothing
    • plan the best routes

    Click here for more information.

Using Bike Boxes

If you bike to or from campus, you may have noticed an area of red pavement with a bicycle symbol on the south-east corner of Blanca and University Boulevard. This is a bike box, a safety measure designed to improve conditions for cyclists and motorists at this busy intersection. A bike box has no effect when the light is green, but can make turning left after a red more convenient and safe for cyclists.

If you want to turn north (left) onto Blanca from University Boulevard, maneuver yourself into the box when you have the right of way. Wait until the light at Blanca turns green, and proceed straight ahead.

For more information, check out the City of Vancouver’s brochure on bike boxes here.

Keeping Your Bike Safe

Preventing Bike Theft

To prevent that sinking feeling in your stomach when you return to find your bike stolen, combine some of the following tips to keep your bike safe. To reduce theft:

  • Choose a good lock. When it comes to bike locks, you get what you pay for! They may be cheaper, but flimsy wire and cable locks are easily cut. U-locks, O-locks, and square-link heavy chain locks are the best bang for your buck. Big U-locks with lots of space are easy to break open, so choose smaller ones made of hardened steel. Use multiple locks if you can – cable locks can make good secondary locks, particularly when put through both wheels.
  • Pick a visible area to lock your bike in. Although bikes can be stolen in broad daylight with people around, thieves prefer to work in low profile areas.
  • Choose the object you’re locking to very carefully. Don’t lock to the sides of bike racks, which can be unbolted fairly easily. Trees and signposts can be sawed through, and bikes can be lifted over poles if there’s enough room at the top between the lock and the sign at the top of the pole.
  • Lock your bike PROPERLY so that the lock runs through:
  1. either the main triangle formed by seat-tube, top-tube, and down-tube, OR the rear triangle formed by the seat-tube, chain stays, and seat stays;
  2. the rims of BOTH wheels; and
  3. the object you’re locking your bike to. Position the keyhole of the lock downwards if possible, to make it harder to drill through.

* Avoid locking only your wheel to the bike rack – especially with quick release wheels, as a thief can easily take your bike and leave the wheel behind.

  • Disguise your bike. Expensive brands and newer-looking bikes are easy targets. Cover logos with electrical or duct tape, or buff / peel them off. Remember, September and October are prime bike-theft months so take extra caution. Try to leave expensive bikes at home, or rent a bike locker on campus.
  • Record serial numbers. A serial number is a key piece of identifying information for the police to use when attempting to recover a stolen bike. If your bike doesn’t have one, get one engraved for free at the RCMP detachment on Wesbrook across from the Thunderbird Field. The Security Office located beside the Bookstore offers free engraving services as well.
  • Take photos of your bike once in a while. Record components and specs for easy identification.
  • Keep your bike inside overnight. Bikes left on campus at night are easy targets for vandals and thieves.

Quick Release Levers on Wheels and Seat Tubes

Quick release levers can make removing a wheel or adjusting your saddle height easy, without the need for tools. Unfortunately, this also makes it easy for others to remove your wheels or seat! Quick releases can be replaced by nutted axles or bolts, which require tools to remove. This may be the best option if you don’t often need to remove your wheels or adjust your seat; otherwise, lock your wheels and take your saddle and seat post with you when you lock up your bike.

Secure Storage and Bicycle Lockers

Please see our page on Bicycle Lockers and Shared Bike Cages for UBC specific information.

Bicycle lockers can be found at numerous locations throughout the city. Along the skytrain route, lockers are available for rent on a monthly basis at Main Street Station, VCC-Clark, Renfrew Station, and Rupert Station. For more information, call C-Meddia at 604.924.1076 or click here. Lockers are also available for rent downtown at 688 Cambie and 150 Water Street. For more information on these lockers, call 604.682.6744.

Tips for Cycling & Clothing

The four most common reasons people cite for not cycling to work/school are weather, safety, theft and clothing. Clothing! We’ve put together some suggestions to overcome this not-so-little barrier and to arrive looking your best.

  • Instead of folding your clothes, roll them together and put the most likely to wrinkle clothes on the outside of the roll..
  • Wrap shoes in a plastic bag, separate from your clothes. Leave a pair at work or school if you can.
  • Avoid clothes that wrinkle easily and need a lot of ironing (rayon and linen are particularly bad). Some cottons won’t wrinkle – experiment with what you already have.
  • Save light clothes that pack well for your cycle-commute days.
  • Keep combs, hair gels, clips etc. at work or school in a locker or desk drawer.
  • Showers aren’t always necessary, depending on the length and hilliness of your commute. Take a towel to dry yourself off, or find a shower in your building if that would make you feel more comfortable.
  • For Shower Locations, contact your department or facility manager. Lockers are available across campus and some offices have lockers and/or closet space for riding and extra work clothes.
  • Invest in covers for your panniers/backpack for rainy days, or wrap clothing in plastic bags. You can also keep a change of clothes on campus to avoid carrying things in the rain.

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