Spend a day people watching on the any of Vancouver’s bikeways and you will notice something pretty fantastic. People riding bikes with their furry friends sitting comfortably in front or rear baskets, backpacks, trailers, cargo bikes or running alongside. It is often mused that the quickest way to make people smile is to show them a happy kid or animal, and we couldn’t agree more when it comes to pets on bikes.
Often referred to as “walking the dog with wheels,” we’ve been watching this growing trend for some time now. What used to be just one or two brave souls with a large dog running beside their cycling owner has become a more normalized way of transporting pets from point A to B.
We would argue that this is largely due to the improved cycling infrastructure throughout the city, leading to pet owners feeling more comfortable riding with their fuzzy companions. Instead of defaulting to loading up in the car and driving to the park, trail or beach, they can quickly pull out their bicycle, settle their dog in a basket, and go – allowing both human and animal to enjoy and experience the natural world.
In effect, the simple act of walking the dog becomes a joy rather than a chore, not just for the pet and their owner, but also for everyone they pass. Our family, and especially our children, love watching happy dogs pass by on bicycles, usually leading to an inevitable, “That’s so cute!” from our dog adoring nine-year-old. We have even taken advantage of the trend to transport our cat to and from the vet for her check up, set up in her carrier and stowed safely in the cargo bike.
As cute and joyous riding with pets is, it also serves a very practical purpose, especially for older four-legged friends. A year ago, we made a film with Vancouver Cycle Chic about our friend, Amy, and her dog, Winston. Because of his arthritis, Winston is not able to walk for long distances, so to get him around the city, Amy sets him up in her front basket and the two happily travel from home to her work at the BCSPCA. For Winston, the bicycle has become an integral means of transportation, and gives both pet and owner the ability to go further than he could ever manage walking.
Whether an animal lover or not, seeing pets on bikes is a sure sign of a bicycle culture that is more normalized and comfortable. It proves that the bicycle can be an extension of walking, easily done by the average person – and pet. We simply love this fun addition to Vancouver’s bike scene, if not for what it adds to our culture, than simply for the pure joy animals bring to practically everyone they pass.
Author’s Note: Do you transport your own pet by bicycle? If so, take a photo and share it with us via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@modacitylife) using the hashtag #PetsOnBikes. We may feature these crowdsourced photos in a future Vancity Buzz post!