By Jeff Loi, MURP candidate ’16
What do you think of when you think of Vancouver? Beautiful landscape? Great bicycle infrastructure? Gray, overcast skies and drizzling rain?
Well, our Luskin Spring Break crew unwittingly experienced all three of these defining characteristics at the beginning of our trip. The theme on Monday was transportation, which is appropriate for the first day since about half of us urban planning students are concentrating in transportation policy and planning. After spending most of the day meeting with representatives from the regional transit authority TransLink (two of whom were also alumni of the UCLA urban planning program), and touring the operations facilities of SkyTrain, the automated light rail system, we were scheduled to take a bike tour of the city.
We students spent many hours of an already busy winter quarter planning and organizing this trip, but the thing that would prove to be the most important factor for our bike ride was out of our control: the weather.
We knew that we would be biking in Vancouver and that it rained a lot there, but somehow we never connected the two thoughts, and were not prepared to bike in the rain. Most of us were still in our dress clothes from the day, and most of us did not have gloves nor adequate raingear. Nevertheless, we persevered and rode our rented bikes for a tour of the bicycle infrastructure in Vancouver, guided by UCLA PhD student and Vancouver native Neal LaMontagne.
We saw why Vancouver has a reputation for being bike friendly. Much of the path from the Olympic Village into Chinatown and through downtown had protected bike lanes — separated from cars, which made the ride feel safe despite the rain. Even the Burrard Bridge was bike friendly. We ended the ride back at our cozy abode in Kitsilano where we dried up after an exceedingly rainy day and cooked dinner as a family.