Its too hilly to cycle here is a common reason provided for not cycling in hilly locations. North Vancouver in my case, is a good example where hills can be problematic to encouraging more people to cycle. But could we use our hills to our advantage? The Grouse Grind is often referred to as mother nature's stair master and attracts a huge following, could our hilly streets become something similar? Can we challenge drivers to get out and cycle them? Encourage people to use them as a way to improve their health? Could the be an opportunity and asset rather than a barrier? Would such road markings suggest the road is an amenity for cyclists rather than a space for cars? Is this just wishful thinking? Is this something only a regular cyclist would think is a good thing?
Are hills even a huge problem? Is the perception worse than the reality? As a little test, I undertook a short "commute" from Lynn Valley to the Lonsdale Seabus, something many might do if they work in Lower Lonsdale or get the Seabus to downtown. Lynn Valley sits around 140m above sea level, the Seabus unsurprisingly sits at sea level, so a fair difference in elevation and definitely one that might discourage someone from riding a bike.
For the most part this trip was made on separated bike facilities (Spirit Trail and Green Necklace) or quieter streets. At all times I was trying to keep the pace leisurely. The GPS stats and some photos are pasted in below for the trip downhill and trip uphill.
In summary, uphill, there was 131 metres more climbing, it only took and additional 5 minutes to cover the same distance, my average heart rate was only 21 bpm faster, I burned 187 more calories, and my average speed was 2.8 km/h slower. Of course, everyone's times will vary, but what I was trying to test was that despite the perceived difference downhill v uphill, there really isn't that big a difference.
Lynn Valley to Lonsdale (Downhill)
Some photos from along that route are provided below.
Lonsdale to Lynn Valley (Uphill)
Much of this route was similar to that above, but a few extra photos are provided below.