We raced by bike, car, and transit to downtown Vancouver!

We raced by bike, car, and transit to downtown Vancouver!

Rush Hour Challenge, starting pictures of three competitors

On a bright, clear-skied Thursday morning, a team of three met up at the corner of East Hastings St. and Templeton Dr., a seemingly random location – but it was intentional for something they were about to do.

David, James, and Mirtha met up at 8:30 a.m. with one goal in mind: to be the fastest commuter, but with a different mode of transportation. This is in part for HUB Cycling’s Rush Hour Challenge, an attempt to make the fastest Downtown commute to the finish line at West Georgia St. and Granville St., across from Vancouver City Centre Station. That’s 4.23 kilometres of travel.

This is part of Go By Bike Week (May 29 – June 2), where commuters are encouraged to ride their bikes to get to their destination, with various stations with free snacks, coffee, tune-ups, and prizes!

Shortly after they met up and exchanged friendly banter on who’ll be the fastest, at 8:42 a.m., they were off to the races.

The Rush Hour Challenge Routes. Purple is bike, blue is transit, and yellow is by car.


The team & their journey

As the three are avid cyclists, deciding which mode of transportation they would take was a challenge.

“I guess I was just the fastest to choose the bike!” said Mirtha, as she swooped the opportunity for a sunny ride. This left David with taking transit (with a twist!), and James taking the car. Let’s follow their journeys:



Mode of transportation: Cycling & Transit

Planned route: Walk to R5 Hastings St RapidBus, then get off at the stop at West Hastings St. and Granville St., then bike to the finish line.

Estimated finish: Optimistically under 20 minutes, but realistically between 20 and 25 minutes

David, waiting for the R5 RapidBus

Going with the theme of Go By Bike Week, David brought his bike at the starting line to see if he could get some minor speed improvements to take the win. As a first-time rider of the R5 Hastings St RapidBus (part of his planned route), he was excited for it on his 3-minute walk to his nearest stop at East Hastings St. and Nanaimo St.

“I think the hardest part is finding the bus stop, but after that, you just relax there.”

Within minutes, his bus arrived, and away he went on a bus ride for a bit over ten minutes, where he planned to use the time to do a light read.

As the bus approached West Hastings St. and Granville St., he grabbed his bike and took the opportunity to pedal down Granville St. to the finish line.

“Relaxed. Stress-free,” he remarked when he passed the finish line. “The bus blows by all the car traffic so that part was pretty quick.”

Rating the comfort and speed of his experience at an 8 and 9 respectively, he noted, “The wait is the biggest variable”, and that better time planning could’ve saved him precious time.

Total Time: 22:58.17

Cost: $3.10

Distance Travelled: 4.9 km

Average Speed: 12.8 km/h

Cost per km: $0.24/km



Mode of transportation: Evo Carshare

Planned route: Whatever Google Maps says is best at the moment

Estimated finish: Between 20 and 25 minutes

James with his Evo carshare app, car booked

Before the start, James was a bit concerned about losing to David and Mirtha.

“I think the main thing is the proximity of the vehicle I booked, the congestion on Hastings, and parking in downtown might be a bit of a challenge.” But he had a trick up his sleeve on his phone: pre-emptively booking his Evo before the start. When 8:42 a.m. hit, he paced to the car and drove, only to be stalled by the turn at Hastings St. and Templeton Dr.

“I was waiting there for a while,” he recalled. From that, James cruised into Downtown with less congestion than he thought. But one hurdle still came when finishing his commute before he walked to the finish line: parking.

“It was a hassle to park my vehicle and find the finish line. Even if there are designated spots in downtown parkades, you have to do laps and it’s unclear where the spots are,” said James. “It’s a bit of a Where’s Waldo of parking.”

Besides that, he ranked his commute with a 7 and 4 in comfort and speed, respectively. James recalled his ride experience as “pretty cruisey,” noting the comfy seats and onboard air conditioning.

Total Time: 24:21.89

Cost: $12.12

Distance Travelled: 5.1 km + distance to find parking

Average Speed: 12.57 km/h

Cost per km: $0.96/km



Mode of transportation: Cycling

Planned route: Primarily the Union-Adanac Corridor, then a right turn when in Downtown

Estimated finish: ~15 minutes

Mirtha posing with her bike at the start of Hastings and Templeton

Starting the day with a huge smile on her face, she was ready to hopefully win. Mirtha says an extra dose of caffeine was the secret sauce to her performance.

As the clock struck 8:42 a.m., she casually cruised down Templeton Dr. for a few blocks until she turned right onto the Adanac-Union Corridor. With a fairly straight and downhill path towards the finish line, she predicted it will be a breeze.

However, a detour came about on her commute, just as she approached a stoplight.

“I bumped into a friend and said hi,” she excitingly recalled. “One of the perks of cycling is that you get more interaction with people that are around.” Though probably the most positive detour one can have on a commute, the clock was still running.

She arrived at the finish line sweat-free and happy. Mirtha was pleasantly surprised to see HUB Cycling’s station was set up with coffee and snacks. But, did she win?

She did, taking the win and arriving twice as fast as James and David. Mirtha was rewarded with first dibs of the free celebratory coffee. Riding high on the thrill of a bike ride, she gave a 10 on both comfort and speed on her commute, and rightfully so!


Total Time: 13:01.29

Cost: Free

Distance Travelled: 5.0 km

Average Speed: 23.05 km/h

Cost per km: $0/km


The post-cap

With the race done, they all predicted cycling was going to be the winner before the race even started. Conversely, they all knew that driving downtown was going to be the slowest and costliest. What was surprising was that James (the driver) actually travelled the longest distance versus David and Mirtha.

The larger surprise came with the amount of comfort and speed Mirtha had on her way here, all at no cost. The message was clear to them: cycling is fast, especially when getting into Downtown Vancouver!

Rush Hour Challenge, finish picture of team competitors

Want to see what it’s like to cycle to work? Sign you and your team up for HUB Cycling’s Go By Bike Week, happening May 29th to June 4th, and be rewarded with free snacks, coffee, tune-ups, and prizes along TransLink’s cycling paths. Be ready to be pleasantly surprised!