There’s a New Space to Bike in Vancouver

What do you do with a temporarily empty public space? City planners in Vancouver, Washington recently grabbed an opportunity by the pavement, creating a new community space at the Heights Bike Garden. The “park” is a new shared space in an area that awaits eventual development, and while it’s running, it may just be one of the largest bike gardens anywhere.

We recently checked out and had a blast!

Courtesy of Kate Hagan Gallup

Park Design

A vibrant streetscape mural by artist Gillian Wynne Grimm brings our Pacific Northwest landscape to this urban center with vibrant colors and peek-behind imagery on the park’s mural mountains. My second grader loved seeing what is inside the mountains that show visions of fossils and magma. He asked if we are at risk of lava erupting at the park, which led to a conversation about volcanoes, Mt. St. Helens and more. 

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Outside of the more rainbow hues are a series of bike lanes, roundabouts, and even speed bumps. The idea of the park is to help focus on bike safety, providing both a flat space to ride and also a practice course to learn road markings and traffic. The City of Vancouver describes it as a place to “offer children and adults a practical, fun and safe way to develop cycling skills and learn about pedestrian road safety.”

Courtesy of Kate Hagan Gallup

Pro tip: While the park is designated for bikes, we brought a scooter which the city also says is OK. The key is to wear a helmet, required by law. The entire bike park is enclosed by a tall chain link fence.

The Vision

In the future, this area will host a vibrant new community space of The Heights District with food and amenities with walking distance; equity-focused housing; and a splash pad and neighborhood park. (For folks familiar with Vancouver, think a Columbia Tech Center-style space.) According to developers, that won’t really start happening until 2025, and until then we get this fun space to cruise and enjoy.

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Around the Area

The bike garden isn’t hard to spot, and there’s ample, free parking all around. Shade, however, is rather elusive. The city had set up some canopies during the opening, but I’d suggest bringing your own umbrella or pop up if you need to get out of the sun. Don’t forget that sunscreen, too! 

Pro tip: There are currently no bathrooms onsite although we did spot a portable potty, but there are three restaurants within walking distance. 

Where to Eat Nearby

  • The Diner: A special restaurant in Vancouver open Wednesday through Sundays 8 am -3 pm. This group is a tipless restaurant focusing on living wages for workers and partnership with the Meals on Wheels movement to provide affordable food to local seniors.
  • Muchas Gracias Mexican Food: Quick service Mexican restaurant with multiple Vancouver locations.
  • Heavy Metal Brewing: A family-friendly brew spot, this local favorite has ample patio space and some seriously good pizza. Evenings often feature live music, but the daytime is typically quiet and great for kids.
Kate Hagan Gallup
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