Posted August 5, 2013 by Adam Toren in City Guides


What is Public Art?

That’s the question posed by Cycle City Tours founder Josh Bloomfield, on the new for 2013 Art Wheelers guided tour of Vancouver’s public art.  Since its soft launch in June, the tour has been tremendously popular with Vancouverites and visitors alike.

“Last year when we designed our Food Tour, we found that exploring the city’s food scene (and sampling delicious eats!) was an interesting platform for discussing the history, culture, and landscape of the city. Having a deep appreciation for anything that has been designed or engineered for the public realm, we quickly realized that public art also provides a great insight into these topics.”

Hundreds of pieces were researched and considered for the 2.5 hour bike tour that explores the city via its bike paths and lanes.  Their professional tour guides are able to bridge the gap between what we can plainly see (or not so plainly see), and tie it to a city’s history, culture, and public space.

“It’s part presentation and part discussion,” according to Bloomfield.  No two people see the same piece in the same way, and everyone’s reactions and opinions contribute to the overall experience.

“We have taken a tour concept called the “Art Wheelers,” founded by art experts Carol-Ann Ryan and Rosemary Lennox in 2011, and have expanded the scope of works considered from what is traditionally considered an “art installation” to topics such as architecture, graffiti art, landscape design, and even discuss the city’s skyline with regards to our visual identity.

A perfect example of what we talk about along the way is an installation called “Four Boats Stranded” by the famous local artist Ken Lum. There are four boats, each one unique in design and colour, placed on each corner of the roof of the Vancouver Art Gallery, and reference an important ship related to BC’s history including Captain George Vancouver’s HMS Discovery, on which he sailed into English Bay in 1792, and the Komogata Maru, a Japanese steamer filled with 376 passengers from Punjab, India. All but 20 of the passengers were not allowed to disembark, being kept on board in appalling conditions for over 2 months in 1914 and finally sent back to their country due to exclusion laws aimed at keeping out Asian immigrants at the time.

“We are really excited about this tour and looking forward to adding to it in future years.  If you want to check it out, its best to book early as many nights sell out!”

The Art Wheelers Tour is offered from June – September on Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6pm, departing from Spokes Bicycle Rentals at Denman and West Georgia. Reservations required.

About Cycle City Tours: Vancouver’s first bike-only touring company, now in their third season of operation.  Their guided tours have soared in popularity since inception and are currently the #1 rated activity on TripAdvisor.com in Vancouver.  Tours can be booked on their website, www.cyclevancouver.com and bikes (if required) are offered at a discounted rate through Spokes Bicycle Rentals on Denman St., which is also where their tours leave from.  Tour move in a relaxed manner and routes are designed across the city’s bike route network, keeping it easy for all abilities.


Adam Toren

Adam Toren
Adam Toren is born and raised in Vancouver BC and loves everything Vancouver BC has to offer. He loves traveling and exploring new and unique restaurants and places around the world.