Thinking of crossing B.C. this summer. Any recommended highways that are safe and bike friendly.
Any advice of books/websites/maps that are helpful.
Specifically thinking of highway 99 through Whistler.
Highway 1 through Kamloops.
Are highway 3 through Hope and Princeton.
Hwy 99 has lots of traffic and steep grades right away. Hwy 1 has traffic plus a number of tunnels - even though the toll road is there - it's still the Trans-Canada. Hwy 3 is okay - narrow in places. Check out the Kettle Valley Rail Trail across southern BC - they had bad forest fires that took out a couple of trestles last year - don't know what it's status is this year.
If you can, I'd suggest doing 16 - the Yellowhead - from Prince Rupert. It's incredible - light traffic and reasonable grade. The ride along the Skeena is much more enjoyable than along the Fraser because you can actually look at the river. You can take a ferry up to PR. A more remote option is Hwy 20 out of Bella Coola - but there are dirt sections and a brutal climb over Heckman Pass. If you want to start in the Vancouver area but would consider heading northeast then I would definitely recommend Hwy 5 - the Thompson Highway - northeast of Kamloops is really sweet.
I have thought Highway #1 through the Fraser Canyon would be good as most of the traffic goes on the Coquihalla now.
Highway three is good, but can be fairly busy -If you have lots of time, take #3 to Rock Creek, then #33 north to Kelowna, keep going north on 97 to Vernon, then head west on #6 to Nakusp, then south to New Denver, you can either keep going to Nelson or go east on 31A to Kaslo. Then down to Balfour and take the ferry, or you can go south from Nelson to Salmo and climb the Creston-Salmo. From Creston go east to Cranbrook and then either go North to Radium and through Kootenay park to Banff, or keep going east through Fernie and the Crowsnest Pass to Highway 22 in Alberta, north on 22 to Longview, then #40 through Kananaskis and Highwood Pass, then #1 to Banff or Calgary.
I would not take Highway 99 through Whistler. The drivers are insane, the road is going to be a constant construction site until just before the Olympics in 2010 and the climb out of Pemberton is quite steep.
That leaves three routes out of southern BC. All have their good and bad points. Hwy 1 through the Fraser Canyon is probably the prettiest and has the most gradual elevation gain. The biggest problems are occassional narrow shoulders and the seven tunnels between Yale and Boston Bar. They are quite narrow and I would not like to be in them with any transport trucks. However only two of the tunnels are long enough to be a significant problem. And the longest tunnel allows you to look back about a kilometre to see if there is any traffic coming. Look for a break in traffic and cycle like mad. Many cyclists go through these tunnels each year and in the 28 years that I have lived in the area I have not heard of any cyclists getting hurt. And contrary to what Jamawani seems to imply there are plenty of views of the Fraser and Thompson rivers if you travel on this route towards Alberta.
Hwy 3 is also quite pretty but it is also narrow in parts and is the steepest of the three routes. You have nice views all along this route. If you are going all the way through BC using this route the view will be quite nice but there are a lot of passes to climb.
Hwy 5, the Coquihalla, is also quite steep climbing out of Hope but once you reach the toll booth the ride gets much easier and there are ways to bypass the steep climbs before and after Merritt. The nicest part of this route is that there is plenty of cycling room at the side of the road. When I cycled to Calgary with my kids several years ago we chose this route mainly because the highway is relatively new and they built it with cyclists in mind. There are some very nice views along this route but not as many as along Hwy 1 or 3. This is also the busiest of the three routes.
May want to suggest checking out the little ferry, seriously that's what they call it, you know, like the little train, etc - here is link. http://www.bcferries.com/News/mill_bay.html
also cycling bc has tons stuff.