Bike Culture & Cycling Life in Victoria

Biking in Victoria

With its mild winter temperature and focus on sustainability, no wonder Victoria has become a focus of Canadian bike culture (and is often nicknamed “Biketoria”). But what does it take for a city to become a home for biking enthusiasts of all kinds, from randonneurs to mountain bikers to commuters? Here’s how Victoria encourages the use of bikes and how it developed its strong bike culture.

Public advocacy

Victoria has a strong biking public advocacy tradition, especially with the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. This group regularly lobbies for better cycling infrastructure throughout the city. It also provides education services by publishing handbooks and magazines. The GVCC is behind the installation of bike racks on buses, the improvement of local trails, and many other pro-cyclist infrastructure in Victoria.

Without a strong public advocacy group to protect and promote cyclists’ needs in an increasingly car-focused culture, many of the infrastructure work throughout Victoria would not have seen the light of day.

Special pro-cycling events

The first even that comes to mind in Victoria is the Bike to Work Week, a week that encourages Victoria’s workers to take their bike instead of the car to get to work. Not only does it save on gas and parking expenses, but it also keeps you healthy and active, an important way to improve productivity at work.

Victoria is also home to the Victoria International Cycling Festival, which features the Robert Cameron Law Cycling Series (a series of races across town), the Victoria Gran Fondo (a 270-km race across the landscape of South Vancouver Island) and the family-friendly Ride, Don’t Hide, to which everyone can participate.

These are only a few of the events promoting cycling in Victoria, but without them, we wouldn’t have the kind of interest in cycling that Victoria exhibits every day.

Amazing bike stores

People can’t ride without bikes, and you can’t visit Victoria without seeing at least one bike store per neighbourhood (and more downtown). Probably the oldest shops in town are Oak Bay Bicycles; in business for over 75 years and Russ Hayes Bike Shop who opened their doors 1959. Whatever bike you’re looking for, be it mountain, hybrid, commuting or road, there’s a store in Victoria that can fulfill your needs.

Useful bike paths and trails

Bike culture couldn’t develop without an excellent network of bike paths and trails that lets people ride safely around town. While not perfect, Victoria’s bike path infrastructure is quite developed, following every major route to and from downtown, Camosun and UVic, as well as to and from the Westshore and Saanich. The Lochside and Galloping Goose Trails serve as both commuting and casual riding trails.

Victoria has the advantage of beautiful vistas and landscapes all along its paths and trails. If you ever rode along the Lochside in Saanich and Sidney, you know what we’re talking about: the Gulf Islands piercing the morning fog in the winter, the blue water sparkling in between them under the summer sun. Not only are Victoria’s trails practical for commuting, but they’re also a ton of fun to ride.

People who ride

The best indication of a city’s bike culture is how many people ride on a daily basis. Victoria has the highest share of bicycle commuters in Canada, with 5.6%. Rain or shine, July or February, there’s always someone on the bike paths or trails around town running errands or getting to or from work or school.

Victoria also has its fair share of biking bloggers, who do a great job of promoting the cycling life. They encourage hesitant bikers and show that it’s possible to do everything you usually do without the need for a gas-guzzling car.

All these elements put together make Victoria into “Canada’s Biking Capital”. Would you like to visit Victoria on two wheels? We have great trips and packages to help you discover it!

Photo by Corey Burger