Cycling Basics and Maps

Learn more about the rules of the road and other tips which can make biking safer and easier.

Bikes on UBC campus
Bikes on UBC campus

Getting Started

Cycling Routes and Commuting to Campus

Take a look at a UBC bike route map and select a route that looks like it’ll work for you. Explore different routes to and from UBC. There are plenty of different ones to choose from and some will suit your needs better than others. Into trail riding? Check out the neighbouring Pacific Spirit Park and make forest bathing part of your commute.

Ride part of the way to campus; you can start or finish your trip by bus. Put your bike on one of the racks attached to the front of the buses and grab a seat! This is handy if you have bike trouble during your ride. Riding in traffic? Ride with the direction of the traffic, use hand signals when turning or slowing down, and wear visible/reflective clothing. If you’d like to improve your skills and safety, try taking a Streetwise course offered by HUB Cycling.

Find maps from Metro Vancouver municipalities

Basic Bike Gear and Clothing

Helmets, bells and lights are mandatory in BC. Replace your helmet every few years (the materials can break down over time, or become damaged by long-term ‘wear and tear’ or a fall).

Winter – a.k.a. ‘wet season’ (November to March): Vancouver is a wet (but rarely snowy) city, and if you are properly equipped the rain is no issue. Be sure to have a warm pair of gloves, a waterproof-breathable rain jacket and pants, fenders, and booties (covers for your shoes). Take an extra pair of clothes to change into.

See below for more cycling tips and on and off campus cycling resources.

  • A good bike costs less than $200 per year (after purchase price) to maintain and use on a daily basis – compare this to $7600 per year for a car in BC.
  • Make sure that you get a bike that’s sized correctly, has the right seat height and is the right kind of bike for what you’re doing. Good, appropriate equipment will be safer, better for your body and more fun to use!
  • The Bike Kitchen can help you with repairs and maintenance, as well as free (for members) bicycle borrowing privileges! For more info on the Bike Kitchen and other on-campus resources, visit our on-campus cycling page.
  • Cyclists have the same rights and duties as motorists.
  • Having a helmet, bell and lights is mandatory for cyclists in B.C. Not having one can bring a hefty fine, so be sure you’re properly equipped before heading out!
  • Take a cycling education class, offered by the HUB. If you’re nervous about riding in traffic, or feel you could use some pointers on safe cycling, this one-day course may be the perfect solution. The Commuter Cycling Skills Course takes you through the most common situations you’ll face when you ride your bike in traffic. It also provides you with tips to make cycle commuting a fun and regular part of your life. The course combines classroom and on-road training.

    You’ll learn to:
    • ride safely and confidently in traffic
    • check your bike for safety
    • adjust your bike to fit you
    • ride at night and in the rain
    • choose equipment and clothing
    • plan the best routes

Learn more at HUB Cycling 

If you bike to or from campus, you may have noticed an area of red pavement with a bicycle symbol on the south-east corner of Blanca and University Boulevard. This is a bike box, a safety measure designed to improve conditions for cyclists and motorists at this busy intersection. A bike box has no effect when the light is green, but can make turning left after a red more convenient and safe for cyclists.

If you want to turn north (left) onto Blanca from University Boulevard, maneuver yourself into the box when you have the right of way. Wait until the light at Blanca turns green, and proceed straight ahead.

For more information, check out the City of Vancouver’s information on cycling road signs and bike boxes here.

Preventing Bike Theft

Combine some of the following tips to help keep your bike safe. To reduce theft:

  • Register your bike with the 529 Garage app and record unique details of your bike that is crucial to helping stolen bikes get returned.
  • Choose a good (U)lock. When it comes to bike locks, you get what you pay for! They may be cheaper, but flimsy wire and cable locks are easily cut. U-locks are the best bang for your buck. Big U-locks with lots of space are easy to break open, so choose smaller ones made of hardened steel. Use multiple locks if you can – cable locks can make good secondary locks, particularly when put through both wheels.

  • Pick a visible area to lock your bike in. Although bikes can be stolen in broad daylight with people around, thieves prefer to work in low profile areas.
  • Choose the object you’re locking to very carefully. Trees can be sawed through, poles can be lifted, and bikes can be lifted over poles if there’s enough room at the top between the lock and the sign at the top of the pole.
  • Lock your bike PROPERLY so that the lock runs through:
    • either the main triangle formed by seat-tube, top-tube, and down-tube, OR the rear triangle formed by the seat-tube, chain stays, and seat stays;
    • the rims of BOTH wheels; and
    • the object you’re locking your bike to. Position the keyhole of the lock downwards if possible, to make it harder to drill through.
    • Avoid locking only your wheel to the bike rack – especially with quick release wheels, as a thief can easily take your bike and leave the wheel behind.
  • Record serial numbers. A serial number is a key piece of identifying information for the police to use when attempting to recover a stolen bike. If your bike doesn’t have one, get one engraved for free at the RCMP detachment on Wesbrook across from the Thunderbird Field. The Security Office located beside the Bookstore offers free engraving services as well. Project 529 allows for easy bike registration. 
  • Take photos of your bike once in a while. Record components and specs for easy identification.
  • Keep your bike inside overnight. Bikes left on campus at night are easy targets for vandals and thieves.

Quick Release Levers on Wheels and Seat Tubes

Quick release levers can make removing a wheel or adjusting your saddle height easy, without the need for tools. Unfortunately, this also makes it easy for others to remove your wheels or seat! Quick releases can be replaced by nutted axles or bolts, which require tools to remove. This may be the best option if you don’t often need to remove your wheels or adjust your seat; otherwise, lock your wheels and take your saddle and seat post with you when you lock up your bike.

Secure Storage and Bicycle Lockers

Please see our page on Bicycle Lockers and Shared Bike Cages for UBC specific information.

Bicycle lockers can be found at numerous locations throughout the city. Along the skytrain route, lockers are available for rent on a monthly basis at Main Street Station, VCC-Clark, Renfrew Station, and Rupert Station. For more information, call C-Media at 604.924.1076 or click here. Lockers are also available for rent downtown at 688 Cambie and 150 Water Street. For more information on these lockers, call 604.682.6744.

The four most common reasons people cite for not cycling to work/school are weather, safety, theft, and clothing. Clothing! We’ve put together some suggestions to overcome this not-so-little barrier and to arrive looking your best.

  • Wrap shoes in a plastic bag, separate from your clothes. Leave a pair at work or school if you can.
  • Avoid clothes that wrinkle easily and need a lot of ironing (rayon and linen are particularly bad). Some cottons won’t wrinkle – experiment with what you already have.
  • Save light clothes that pack well for your cycle-commute days.
  • Keep combs, hair gels, clips etc. at work or school in a locker or desk drawer.
  • Showers aren’t always necessary, depending on the length and hilliness of your commute. Take a towel to dry yourself off, or find a shower in your building if that would make you feel more comfortable.
  • For Shower Locations, contact your department or facility manager. Lockers are available across campus and some offices have lockers and/or closet space for riding and extra work clothes.
  • Invest in covers for your panniers/backpack for rainy days, or wrap clothing in plastic bags. You can also keep a change of clothes on campus to avoid carrying things in the rain.
Bike Kitchen
UBC Cycling Resources (Photo: Bike Kitchen)

The Bike Kitchen is a student-run organization dedicated to making UBC a better place for cyclists and their bikes. This fully-equipped bike repair and retail shop was established to help the UBC community keep their bikes maintained for a reasonable rate. Located in the UBC Life Building, the Bike Kitchen has a wide range of new and used parts, as well as lovingly refurbished bikes for sale.

Through the Do-It-Yourself stand and tool rental you can fix your own bike with the help of a mechanic! It is also a full service shop, so if you’re low on time you can drop your bike off for service. Assessments are always free, and there is a pump and chain oil for everyone to use at no cost.

The Bike Kitchen also runs programs ranging from Bici Libre (connecting migrant workers with bikes), Kids Bike Library, bi-monthly Access Nights (Pride Night, Gender Liberation Night), Volunteer evenings, and educational courses and workshops on mechanics.

Stop by the Kitchen anytime you think your bike might be in need. Hours are Monday to Friday 10am-6pm, Saturdays 11am-6pm, close long weekends & statutory holidays.

Call 604.827.7333 or visit their website.

  • HUB New Cyclist Handbook outline rules of the road, safety tips, helmet and bicycle fitting, and resources to find out more about safe and enjoyable cycling. Printed and available online, the handbook is in five languages: Punjabi, Korean, Tagalog, simplified Chinese, simplified English.
  • HUB is a volunteer-run non-profit society, whose members work to improve conditions for cycling in the Lower Mainland. If you want to get involved, they're always looking for volunteers.
  • British Columbia Cycling Coalition is non-profit society that represents the interests of cyclists provincially, and that seeks to secure their recognition in policy and programs affecting transportational cycling.
  • George Massey Tunnel Bicycle Shuttle Information about the free shuttle service for bicycles and their riders through the George Massey Tunnel (convenient if you’re cycling to Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal).
  • Our Community Bikes / PEDAL is a non-profit bicycle recycling depot, a full repair shop, and an educational workshop available to people who wish to repair their own bikes or learn how to do so.
  • Ministry of Transportation – Cycling Policy in British Columbia