A tour of the Central Valley Greenway: a major new bike and walking path through three municipalities!
I don’t know if you know about this, but after more than six years of development, the Central Valley Greenway is launching on Saturday, June 27!
What’s the Central Valley Greenway? It’s a new 24-kilometre pathway through Vancouver, Burnaby, and New Westminster. (Here’s the Greenway page on the main TransLink site.)
That means you can now walk or cycle on a dedicated path from Science World to New Westminster Quay, with all sorts of parks, shopping, worksites, and major transit hubs along the way. (Most of the trail is accessible to wheelchairs, skateboarding, and in-line skating, too.)
It’s a new, high-quality backbone for the regional cycling network, helping our region cut greenhouse gases and encouraging alternative modes of travel.
But more than that—the Greenway is just a really great walk or bike ride!
And to show you just what I’m talking about, I’ll do a picture/video tour of the Greenway here. (The route is still not totally finished, but I got to bike the route a few weeks ago!)
Just bear in mind that this will be a highlights tour. For more detail, check out the Buzzer’s Flickr set of Greenway photos, which illustrates the entire route and provides lots of commentary and instructions on the trickier bits.
A short overview of the Greenway
View Central Valley Greenway in a larger map
The Google map above shows the route overview, including points of interest.
I’ve opened the map to public edits, so feel free to add your own points or notations too! Update, Oct 7, 2010: I’ve had to close the map to collaboration as strange, irrelevant map points keep getting added (ie: a trip in Dublin? What?). In the last round, somebody also deleted the entire CVG route so that kind of defeats the purpose. So if you find you do have points to add, please just send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Greenway is a really flat trail, so it’s very easy to bike and walk. It’s also mostly separated from traffic, and you go through lovely green areas for many sections of the route. The path has a different feel depending in which city you’re in, too.
And as you can tell from the map, the Greenway gives you central access to many awesome destinations throughout the region. There’s Hume Park, Burnaby Lake Park, and more, plus 11 SkyTrain Stations, 23 bus routes, 16 existing bike routes, and 11 greenways!
It’s been a long time coming, too. The Greenway project really got off the ground in 2003, when TransLink, Metro Vancouver, and the three municipalities won federal funding to build the Greenway through Transport Canada’s Urban Showcase program.
TransLink and its partners also pitched in their own funding and coordinated the planning work to finally build a high-quality path along the Greenway.
In the end, the partners who worked to bring you the Greenway are Transport Canada, Province of British Columbia, TransLink, Metro Vancouver, City of Vancouver, City of Burnaby, City of New Westminster, BEST and Vancity.
All right… now on to the tour!
The New Westminster part of the path is really scenic—it’s a ride filled with greenery, with a lovely jaunt through beautiful Hume Park and along the Brunette River.
It starts at the New Westminster Quay, in front of the big tin soldier pictured above. Also pictured is Michelle, who was my tour guide on the Greenway that day – she’s coordinating the Greenway’s opening event in June. You’ll see her in a bunch of these photos!
After the Quay, the Greenway continues on Columbia Street’s bicycle lanes through the City’s historic downtown, past bridal gown stores and antique shops that attract many shoppers each year.
The on-street cycle path has really revitalized Columbia Street. By the way, there’s a huge number of bridal gown stores and antique shops here, in case you’re in need of either!
The route then turns into a wide path, separated from the busy traffic of Columbia Street by a landscaped boulevard. At Brunette, the path becomes on-street bike lanes again and travels uphill to the Royal Columbian Hospital and Sapperton Park.
Off Columbia Street, you head down a few side streets and you’re at the entrance to Hume Park!
The path curves around Hume Park’s off-leash area, the baseball diamonds, and the picnic grounds. Perfect for a summer day out with your family or friends!
Also, notice that lamppost near where Michelle is standing? That’s one of the many lampposts that have been installed along almost the entire Greenway – meaning you can ride at night with good visibility.
Ride out of Hume Park and you’ll be in the Brunette Fraser Conservation Area. You’ll ride on a gravel path through an idyllic wooded area, which eventually runs alongside the Brunette River. Check out the video above and the photo below to see what I mean. It’s so pretty!
Once out of the Brunette River area, you’re in Burnaby!
Like New Westminster, the Burnaby section of the route features lovely greenery through Burnaby Lake Park, and rides near some big shopping destinations.
For pedestrians, after leaving New Westminster, you can walk on a path through Burnaby Lake Park. Cyclists aren’t actually allowed to ride through the park on that path.
Instead, cyclists take the bike lanes on Winston Street and cruise on until reaching Sperling SkyTrain Station.
I just have to mention this little detour if you have time on your Winston Street journey. If you turn left at Piper Ave, you reach Piper Spit, a gorgeous little nature spot filled with geese, ducks, and more. There’s a birdwatching tower there too!
Okay, back to the regularly scheduled Greenway.
At Sperling SkyTrain Station, you reach the Winston Overpass, which cyclists and pedestrians can use to cross the busy street and reach the northern edge of Burnaby Lake Park. Cyclists can ride through this portion of the park!
The Winston Overpass is a brand new bridge built specifically for the Central Valley Greenway. It was still under construction when we rode the Greenway, but it will be completed for the end of June.
Also, just to the left of this photo is where the Greenway’s opening celebration will be held on June 27!
Anyway, the path through Burnaby Lake Park’s north end is quite green and lovely to ride through. Check the video above out to see what it looks like!
Once the path ends, you wind up cycling on lesser-used streets in industrial areas.
There are a few destinations you might think about dropping by along the way, including the Rocky Mountain Chocolate factory outlet, and Costco!
At Gilmore Ave, you start riding on the flat pavement under the SkyTrain guideway. Keep on following it, and you ride right into Vancouver!
While Vancouver’s portion of the Central Valley Greenway doesn’t run through natural parkland, it has wonderful greenery found in surprising areas, and feels quite separate from busy streets.
The video above shows the Vancouver path beginning under the SkyTrain guideway, running from Rupert Station to Renfrew Station. The path is lovely new pavement, which makes for a smooth ride, and because you’re under the guideway, there’s no car traffic to contend with!
After Renfrew Station, the path goes over Great Northern Way in Vancouver. Wide sidewalks have been built for the Greenway, which easy to walk and pedal on. (Cyclists use the street on some parts of Great Northern Way.)
West of Renfrew Station at Slocan, the path follows Grandview Highway North in Vancouver, a traffic-calmed street. Cyclists share the road with local traffic to Commercial, and on bicycle lanes to Clark. And here the City has built lush landscaping and wide sidewalks, making a pleasant journey for pedestrians.
At Clark Drive, the path becomes a wide sidewalk for pedestrians and cyclists beside Great Northern Way. It swings by Vancouver Community College, the Great Northern Way Campus and St. Francis Xavier School. Again, this path is surprisingly green, considering it’s beside a roadway!
Across from St. Francis Xavier, near Brunswick Street, the path turns down onto E 1st Ave. It’s another smooth ride all the way over to Main Street. At Main Street, a new pedestrian crossing get you across the street safely.
Then after a few more turns, you’re right at Science World.
And here’s where Central Valley Greenway ends!
Further exploring the Greenway – plus the upcoming opening celebration
Again, if you’d like to try out the Greenway, please check out the Buzzer’s Flickr set of Greenway photos, which illustrates the entire route and provides lots of commentary and instructions on the trickier bits.
Or come on out to the Greenway’s opening on June 27, where the Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC) will be giving bike tours, and the Vancouver Parks and Recreation folks will do pedestrian tours!
There will also be a performance from soul/funk band Freeflow, activities for the whole family, bike performers, free snacks, and more!
I’ll remind you about the Greenway opening as we get closer, too :)
And I hope you enjoyed this tour. Again, while the Greenway is definitely a major new connection between our region’s greenways and recreation areas, it’s also just a ton of fun to ride and walk the pathway. I urge you all to check it out!