On a walk along Vancouver’s foreshore, bikes are only one of the modes of transport I see being used.
I encounter joggers, walkers, boarders and in-line skaters, as well as a group of mothers doing exercises with their baby buggies in tow. Even the bicycles themselves show a variety that ranges from unicycles to tandems – although most are spotlessly new. There are none of the battered utilitarian bikes of cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
The sea wall runs from the university across False Creek and into the green expanses of Stanley Park, giving a stretch of seafront you can follow for kilometers. Against a backdrop of luxury yachts, I see sailboats, dragon boat racers, kayakers and, above all, stand-up paddle-boarders, illustrating that not all the exercising is confined to land.
“Our coastal setting is a big part of who we are,” says Jenn Potter, a guide with Tours by Locals. “Our proximity to the beach means we’re constantly reminded – to put it bluntly – that life is good. We regularly stop to take a breath and look around and feel happy about where we are. We work to play rather than live to work as in other large Canadian cities. The hippie movement in Canada in the 1960s was centered in Vancouver, and Greenpeace started here.”
Behind the shore path, blocks of upmarket apartments glitter in the sun. At their bases, expanses of grass are filled by sunbathing women reading books, personal fitness trainers putting clients through their paces, yoga and tai chi practitioners, and couples just enjoying each other’s company. I guess all the lazy people might still be in bed, but the impression is of a city full of energy.
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