Many in Vancouver’s cycling community recall the long-heralded Bike Rave – a spectacular nighttime ride that kicked off the annual Velopalooza Festival. The event gathered people from across the region looking to celebrate the summer and their city, decorating both their bikes and themselves, and enjoying a shared music experience along the way.
The remarkable event grew exponentially each year from its inception, until 2014, when the number of participants peaked at over 7,000. After this unexpected success, organizers decided that, in order to continue, it was time to take the ride from the confines of the seawall (no longer able to accommodate the shear numbers they were attracting), and onto the wide open streets of Vancouver.
But sadly, due to policing, permitting, and insurance costs, as well as the departure of one of the event’s key organizers to Australia, such an expansion was largely prohibitive, and no official Bike Rave has been held since then.
But the spirit of the Bike Rave never disappeared, and in the years since, numerous unsanctioned and unofficial events have popped up, none reaching the full magnitude of the original, mainly due to their underground and exclusive nature. Still many, including ourselves, have longed for a return of the larger event – a celebration bringing people of all ages together to light up their bikes and their streets.
Thankfully, the people at HUB have answered the call, organizing Vancouver’s first nighttime open streets ride, entitled ‘Bike the Night’ on Friday, September 16, 2016.
The event, which will begin in Kitsilano at 6 pm with snacks, hot chocolate, and giveaways, will take thousands of riders on a fun, family-friendly 10 km ride through Kitsilano, along the newly-opened Arbutus corridor, followed by a ride through Shaughnessey’s beautiful tree-lined streets, and back to the starting point.
Bike the Night hopes to emulate the celebratory and inclusive atmosphere of Montreal’s Tour La Nuit – an annual ride as part of the city’s Go Velo Festival. Similar in nature to Vancouver’s Bike Rave, cyclists decorate their bicycles with all types of lighting, play music, and even dress in costume. Tour La Nuit has been such a success that each year they receive upwards of 17,000 registrations, making it one of the largest events of its kind in Canada.
Bike the Night organizer at HUB, Laura Jane, has been working tirelessly to make this event a reality. “Fun and easy rides like this are important for motivating people to get on their bikes and experience how enjoyable it is,” said Jane. “We’re very excited to launch Bike the Night in Vancouver and look forward to seeing it grow in the years to come. We also hope this event will help encourage more open streets bike events to take place in Metro Vancouver.”
For our part, we are excited to finally feel comfortable bringing our children along for what has always been a highlight of the Vancouver summer calendar. That is the intention behind the event – to encourage and include anyone who is curious about taking part in an open streets event that shows off how much fun riding on two-wheels can be.
Tickets for the event start at $8, with discounts for HUB members, and include an entry for a grand prize – an eProdigy Whistler Electric Bicycle – valued at over $2,000. There will also be other great giveaways and prizes before the ride departs.
While slightly different in organization from the initial event of year’s past, Bike the Night maintains its spirit as simply a group of people who enjoy showing off their bikes – preferably with elaborate lights – listening to music, and enjoying the freedom of riding throughout our beautiful city.
When: Friday, September 16
Time: 6 pm
Route: 10 km