Urban rush

12 06 2012

A great perk of cycling is the way we relate to the environment around us when we’re on the bike.

The way we experience a road, a route, a city is very different on a bike than when we’re in a car. The people look different, so do the buildings. On a bike, we actually SEE the people and buildings.

On a bike, we’re very much a part of the environment; we’re not encased in a climate-controlled cage of steel, glass, plastic and fabric. We feel the weather, for better or worse, we make friendly eye contact with other people. We pass by the landscape slowly enough to notice some of its quirks and features. And as many times we may ride the same route, there always seems to be something new to see.

Sunday’s Fuggitivi ride to a very familiar destination took an unfamiliar route through a part of Vancouver that had previously existed only on the edges of my peripheral vision as I drove past it hundreds of times over the years. Hugging the Fraser River, the Kent Street bike route slices through some of the city’s vanishing industrial spine. Lumber mills, cement plants and rail yards are being squeezed by warehouses which are in turn being crowded out by big box retail stores to service the condo and townhouse developments that are battling for prime waterfront real estate.

Sunday’s Fuggiviti ride skirts the backside of new condo and townhouse development along the Fraser River.

It’s a part of the city where industry is slowly being squeezed out.

Driving past it, it all looks like just so much nondescript urban landscape. Riding through it, you become very much aware of the transitions, the zoning battles that are allowing them to happen, and the changing character of the city.