Even with the more frequent summer service the bike shuttle through the Massey Tunnel is restricted. Winter hours are less frequent. (Trevor Barry Photo)

How to bike from Victoria to Vancouver

Massey Tunnel bike shuttle a must to avoid a horrifying tunnel ride

Every year the trip by car to Vancouver gets a little bit longer, a little more hectic, and generally less convenient.

Especially if the destination is downtown. The ferries are expensive, the waits are long, and Vancouver’s traffic is like navigating one Colwood Crawl after another.

Taking a harbour-to-harbour sea plane has usurped travelling by car to Vancouver in terms of time spent travelling and convenience, but is much more costly. Taking transit, bus and Skytrain, is cheaper and free of the anchor that a car becomes downtown, but is much more time consuming.

The only other option is to bike. It’s rare, and there isn’t a preferred route, but it is done.

Saanich resident Trevor Barry has made the trek multiple times.

READ MORE: Residents seek protected bike lane to connect Victoria and Oak Bay

Trevor Barry has biked to Vancouver several times. It isn’t always easy but he makes it work.
(Trevor Barry Photo)

The first leg involves getting to Swartz Bay. The choices are to ride the Lochside Trail or, if it’s 5 a.m., Barry finds the traffic of the Pat Bay Highway is tolerable. The latter saves time from the meandering dog legs of the Lochside.

At this stage, and other stages, there is a bus option, but keep in mind only regular-sized bikes fit on the front of a bus. No baskets or long tail bikes (the Skytrain is, of course, forgiving in this regard). But that defeats the purpose, Barry said.

Second leg: The ferry ride over. Easy, but also silly that BC Ferries charges an extra few bucks for a bike, Barry said.

“At least cyclists are the first loaded and unloaded, and most ships have decent bike racks on the lower vehicle deck (which is monitored nowadays to be free of people).”

The BC Ferries buffet tastes good when resting lactic legs, Barry added. The cost is easier to bear too, with added savings.

The third leg, from there, is a matter of destination. Barry has ridden to downtown Vancouver and the University of B.C. multiple times. He’s once ridden into New Westminster (in a deluge of rain) and has done a couple trips out to Maple Ridge and Mission.

READ ALSO: Reader calls on Oak Bay council to make bike lanes a priority

The biggest barrier is no doubt the highway and how to avoid it.

To start, the causeway out to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal has a protected lane on the other side of the concrete barrier. Then you’re in traffic until either Tsawwassen Mills mall where you can hang left across the railway overpass and down into Ladner, or to the recreation centre.

From Ladner, if Barry’s in a hurry, or it’s bad weather, he’ll grab a bus to Richmond at the transit exchange, he said. Preferably, he’ll ride up the highway, of take the scenic route past Boundary Bay.

Either way, you end up at the Ministry of Transportation’s Massey Tunnel Bike Shuttle. It’s about 18 kilometres to the shuttle and another 23 km into Vancouver from there.

If you’re going to ride there, be sure to memorize the Massey Tunnel bike shuttle’s schedule. It is more frequent in the summer, less frequent in the winter, and if you don’t time it right, you can be stuck there for hours or miss it outright.

Seems obvious, but don’t your bike through the tunnel. Barry did.

“I very foolishly cycled through the Massey Tunnel my first time,” Barry said. ” Stupid, stupid, stupid. So scary. #neveragain.”

Otherwise, everything about cycling within Vancouver is wonderful, Barry noted.

“It’s pleasant. The hills are bearable. The infrastructure is amazing. And the traffic is slow and aware for the most part.”

Barry isn’t the only cycling commuter who’s made the ride. Corey Burger of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition has navigated the seven-hour day. The time commitment alone is probably the biggest challenge, he said, as the safer routes, away from the highways, need just that.

“One challenge is the differing interpretations by each municipality you travel through of what constitutes a bike lane (if any),” Burger said.

One thing of note is that, while it’s added kilometres, the Skytrain Canada Line bridge has a pedestrian and cycling option attached to it. Unfortunately, you end up transitioning through major intersections with little or no bike infrastructure.

Again, once you reach the side roads of South Vancouver, the ride is fairly safe.

On this side of the ferry, Burger points out that it’s time for the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure to upgrade the cycling connection to Swartz Bay terminal.

“Kudos to the BC Ferries planning team who met with GVCC, including me, to chat about it,” Burger said. “They know that as they do the terminal planning, they need to better accommodate cyclists arriving at the ferries.”

reporter@oakbaynews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Langford man battling cancer honored with hot rod, motorcycle procession

Friends and family support Patrick O’Hara on his 73rd birthday

‘Seven baths in two days’: Homeless adjusting to life in hotels

Victoria passes motion to allow camping 24-7 in parks until June 25

Langford Fire calm mother and daughter after being trapped in elevator

Three-year-old girl given stuffed animal to calm nerves

Capital Regional District prepares to reopen regional campgrounds

Camping will look different at Island View, Sooke Potholes, Jordan River sites

Victoria traffic stop yields drugs, case full of weapons

Police seize firearms, swords and flares

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

POLL: Do you agree with the provincial government’s decision to increase the minimum wage?

B.C.’s lowest-paid workers will be getting a few more dollars to try… Continue reading

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

As SD84 schools look to reopen, Kyuquot and Zeballos opt out

Schools in Tahsis and Gold River will open on June 1, with 30 per cent students expected to come in

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

B.C. Paralympian named to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame

Three-time world and Paralympic gold medalist Sonja Gaudet is part of 11-member class

Most Read