See below for details related to each program site.
First and Second Year:
For the most part, Vancouver is well serviced in terms of transit options and has some excellent cycling routes. In first and second year, need for a car is minimal but is necessary if you are placed with a family practice preceptor at a distant site. For the occasional trips to White Rock or Langley try to find other students going the same direction. Otherwise an excellent option both environmentally and financially is to get a membership to one of the car sharing programs in Vancouver. The Cooperative Auto Network and ZipCar have multiple cars at UBC and in the VGH area, plus there are deals for UBC students.
So long as you are over the age of 19 and have a valid driver’s licence you can join either sharing program. For either one, expect that an afternoon with your FMPR preceptor in White Rock will cost around $40-$50 (includes gas and insurance).
For information on the Corporative Auto Network and ZipCar, check out the UBC Trek Program Centre.
For most days, if you live within Vancouver’s city limits cycling or transit will get you to PBL on time.
Here is a great tool to plan cycling trips in and around Metro Vancouver. It allows you to plan your trip according to air quality, elevation gain and greenery. Cycling Route Planner
Third and Four Year:
If you got by without a car in first and second year, you will be just fine without one for third and fourth. Every hospital has good transit access and despite maybe being a bit of a longer trip than travelling by car you can study on the way if your stomach will allow it. Infrequent late-night transit is not much of an issue since you will be sleeping at the hospital if you are doing overnight call.
Cycle commuting is a great option, especially for third year since squeezing in a bit of exercise is challenge with such a busy schedule. Most hospitals in Metro Vancouver are easily reached on bicycle, have secure bike cages and showers. See the accompanying Cycling Guide to 3rd Year (for current students; found on MEDICOL)
Life as a medical student in Victoria can be pretty manageable without a car. Victoria has a good transit system and some of the best cycling, and cycling weather, in Canada.
In first and second year the only time you would really need a car is to save yourself from the epic bus ride if you have an FMPR placement in Sooke or Sydney. Unlike in the VFMP students are not placed with a buddy so carpooling is not usually an option. For these trips a more affordable alternative to car ownership is a membership in the Victoria Car Share Co-op. To join you need to be 19 years old, have a full-privilege licence (class 5) and a 3 year clean driving history. It costs $400 to become a member, but this is fully refunded upon leaving the Co-op. If you are a Family Student Housing resident this fee is waived. Monthly maintenance fee is $15, which you can opt out of during the months that you are not using a vehicle. The Victoria Car Share Co-op
For third year, you will generally be spending most of your time in hospitals. The Royal Jubilee is easy to get to (very close to UVic) and while Vic General is further away, there is a good bus service.
Cycling in Victoria is great! Motorists are used to seeing cyclists, road conditions are good and there is a good network of separated bike paths. Cycling around the University can be a challenge if you don’t know where to go, so check out this map: UVic Bike Routes
For general information about cycling around Victoria, bike routes and bike lockers check out the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition site.
You will probably want a car if you live in Prince George. Transit service is not as regular as you might be used to coming up from Vancouver and there is currently no car sharing program. When using transit you will want to know the bus schedule before heading out to the bus stop (especially in winter time). BC Transit – Prince George Transit System
In first and second year students are primarily located at UNBC with time spent at University Hospital of Northern BC and Family Practice offices. All are located within close proximity of each other and students are often in the same medical buildings for Family Practice so carpooling is an option. For third year, you are located at the hospital and it is located no more than 15 minutes from most parts of town.
Cycling in Prince George is possible, and some people cycle year-round. However, the urban infrastructure is not always bike friendly as may find yourself sharing the road with large trucks and the shoulders can sometimes be gravelly. Recreationally however, there is a lot of mountain bike trails on offer. Check out the Prince George Cycling Club’s website for more information.