Velo-City at the Museum of Vancouver

by Bob Pember

Now that August is almost over, there are only a few days left before the end of the Museum of Vancouver’s Velo-City exhibit. The exhibit runs until September 7th, and features an array of Vancouver’s extensive bike history. It includes a timeline of bike-related events over the last hundred and twenty years, memorabilia from Canada’s top competitive cyclists (including some Olympic garb), and rooms full of notable Vancouver bikes such as Sam Whittingham’s record holding Diablo – a streamlined, encapsulated, low-riding bike that the British Columbia native took up to 132.5 km/h in 2008. Basically, Velo-City focuses on the spirit of biking in Vancouver and how our town is and has been a hot bed for bike enthusiasm and a forerunner in the global biking expansion.

Throughout the exhibit there are blurbs along the wall emphasizing how important biking is to the people of Vancouver which are accompanied by write-ups about specific cyclists from the city. The biographies are paired with the favourite bike of each rider: bikes that have ridden in races or that have helped their riders win mountain biking competitions. There are also larger displays of bikes throughout the middle of each room exhibiting some bizarre and uncommon styles. For instance, there’s the Bambulance – a bike designed to transport injured people where a motor vehicle wouldn’t cut it. Velo-City also boasts some impressive tall-bikes that have the rider’s seat up to eight feet off the ground. The most memorable of these was the Dr. Seuss tribute that had a series of wheels spinning into each other as it’s source of motion and colours resembling the children’s author’s fantasy world.

The Velo-City exhibit is well-timed for Vancouver as we’re all currently a part of the Burrard Street Bridge bike lane experiment. There’s obviously been a bit of tension in the ongoing battle between motorist and cyclist as the cars are forced back as they try to exit downtown using two lanes instead of three; the third is now reserved for bicycles. The city is shifting its priority from motorists to cyclists, and the lane is proving that there is a large enough volume of bikers to necessitate a car-free lane. Hopefully the annoyed grunts of those in the cars don’t drown out the sighs of relief from the cyclists and the city decides to maintain the adaptation.

If you’re one of the thousands that love their bikes in this city, check out the museum before the 7th. The Velo-City exhibit is an excellent resource for a continuing large part of Vancouver’s history and a must for any bike enthusiast looking to bask in what makes our city a famously bike-friendly city.

Velo-City is on at the Museum of Vancouver until September 7th.


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