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velowallah 12-07-13 08:39 AM

Winter biking in Vancouver
I'm from Ottawa and considering moving to Vancouver. One of the main reason is the absence of snow and possibility to bike all year. Yet of course I heard much about the rain. What I wonder is how relentless it is? Is it continually pouring, or just light drizzle and some breaks in between? Essentially, is biking the winter there mostly for hardcore young males, or is it something that`s reasonable for most people?

dclout 12-07-13 09:52 AM

I'd say it is more or less constant drizzle. Really hard rain is not that common. The worst thing is that wet streets really suck up the lights and make it seem darker. I'm just getting back into commuting after about 10 years off and modern lights have made a huge improvement.

You don't need to be hard core, you just need the right clothing and lights.

lhbernhardt 12-09-13 04:12 PM

Typically it will snow maybe once or twice each winter, and the snow will stick around for 3 days to 2 weeks max. The coastal snow is wet, so it tends to get quite slippery, or tricky to ride in when it gets packed down. The streets are usually wet all winter, unless it gets really cold, which is fine because then you're not riding on a sheet of ice once the cold sets in. Usually, if it gets really cold (really cold for Vancouver is minus 5 to minus 10, it won't snow. If it does snow, the temp will bump up to around 0. And then the rain washes it all away and it gets kind of warm, like plus 6. Every 15-20 years or so, we'll get really, really cold weather (like extended minus 10) for a couple of weeks, and then you can go skating outdoors at Deer Lake in Burnaby or Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park. But that's pretty rare. Mostly it's just wet. But as I always say, if you want to ride a bike in the Pac NW, you have to enjoy riding in the rain.

I recommend bringing fenders with mud flaps. A front mud flap is really good for keeping your feet drier. And if you go on a group ride without a rear mud flap, guys will hurl insults at you.


velowallah 12-12-13 05:41 PM

I don't particularly enjoy riding in the rain, but it beats riding in the ice, salt, slush and minus 20 weather. When you say that, you mean the rain in the winter, right? Or does it also rain a lot outside of winter?

lhbernhardt 12-13-13 12:43 PM

It rains quite a bit in Vancouver all year round. Although we usually get a spell of nice weather (no rain) usually around August. (This year, quite unexpectedly, it was July, August, and September! I think I even had my fenders off until mid-October.) Otherwise, you can expect rain much of the time. Like I said, if you want to ride a bike in Vancouver, you have to enjoy riding in the rain,


redbike72 12-14-13 05:22 PM

One thing you may notice if you move west is that the weather is rather spotty. It may be sunny in Vancouver but raining in Burnaby and pouring out towards Maple Ridge.
The same applies to any snow that you may encounter. It snows more often on the higher hills than down near the water.

yarb 12-20-13 08:52 PM

I commuted for two years in Vancouver and tracked the conditions for each commute. I don't have the data to hand right now but I think it was either heavy, regular, or light rain, or wet roads, on 40-45% of my commutes year-round. Maybe 15% wet, 10% light rain, 10% rain, 5-10% heavy rain. This is year-round; in winter it's more likely than not to be wet or raining. But I always enjoyed this. Just get some good fenders on there and have a place at work to dry out your gear during the day and you're good. Personally I preferred it to what I have now in Denver, which is dry but always cold, sub-zero in the mornings November through April.

velowallah 12-21-13 08:33 AM

thanks Yarb, that`s excellent info!

If anyone here knows cities of the east, would you say that all things considered (climate, bike lanes, facilities), for a bike commuter, Vancouver is a better place than, say, Ottawa or Montreal?

jdon 12-21-13 08:48 AM


Originally Posted by velowallah (Post 16348465)
thanks Yarb, that`s excellent info!

If anyone here knows cities of the east, would you say that all things considered (climate, bike lanes, facilities), for a bike commuter, Vancouver is a better place than, say, Ottawa or Montreal?

Montreal has great bike paths. Toronto has.. well, Rob Ford. Vancouver is far and away the most temperate climate but it does rain. Vancouver summers are normally pretty dry with moderate temperatures. It lacks the humidity we get from the Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes. Vancouver is tough to beat in Canada.

velowallah 12-21-13 08:58 AM

thanks jdon. I spent July to September there this year and loved it. Ottawa does have much better cycling infrastructure, but with the early arrival of winter here this year and putting my bike away in late november, my tolerance for the east climate has vanished. Funny thing is that I`ll be taking a serious pay cut for longer hours to live in a more expensive city, but am excited nevertheless to be able to live without a car again, which is something I tried to do in Ottawa but haven`t succeeded at.

muzpuf 12-21-13 09:26 AM

I was up in Vancouver for a while its a great city but my memory is a blurr because of the abundance of nightlife ..... young and Seymour pops into memory

islandseas 01-04-14 09:15 PM

If you don't mind the ferry you should try Victoria….we get a lot less rain than Vancouver. We are in the rain shadow of the Olympics. Or visit if you move to Vancouver.


timvan_78 01-30-14 05:51 PM

it sucks. stay away. :lol:

lhbernhardt 01-31-14 12:22 PM


Originally Posted by timvan_78 (Post 16454690)
it sucks. stay away. :lol:

Yes, I agree. Anytime visitors come from back east, I hope for overcast or rain so that they can't see the (rather spectacular) local mountains. Yeah, you wouldn't like Vancouver, it rains most of the time. Go back home!

And especially don't come if you plan to drive. I just hate it when I need to drive my car into Vancouver. The streets get really clogged. And the parking is really expensive; the meters go until 10 pm. And then downtown gets REALLY congested anytime the Canucks play at GM Place, which is right at the entrance to downtown.

Of course, if you come by bike, you get to slip past all this. The problem then is where to park your bike securely, as there are lots of high-theft areas. You'd probably want to rent a Translink bike locker ($10 for three months?), or you can get space at BCIT's downtown campus bike room for about $35/month last time I checked.


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