Behavioural change / Cycling

The Possibility of Cycling in the Winter

In the north west of Europe, particularly in Great Britain, Denmark, Northern Germany and the Netherlands, the chance of snow is perhaps not remote, but definitely fairly low. Once in a decade, there is a cold snap for a few weeks, but generally, the winters are somewhat grey and dull. Not so in other places in the world.

When you want to talk winter, come to Finland, Russia, the northern US and Canada. We are talking meters of snow here. Ottawa, Canada’s capital, is apparently the second coldest capital in the world and its citizens know it. It is not uncommon to see snow from mid November until mid April.

100 million dollars for snow clearing

This means serious snow clearing in a city with nearly a million people and roads with a total length of over 5700 km. The snow budget hovers usually around 100 million Canadian dollars. A tiny amount of that goes to snow clearing of a winter cycling network of about 40 km. This allows residents to continue cycling year round. Not that every one is an eager beaver, but the interest is growing.

A clean path is not enough

But clean roads are only part of the puzzle. It is just as important to have parking for bicycles as well as a place to change into proper clothes. Bike parking is often overseen but a very important factor. While many cities pave acres and acres of land for car parking, creating huge run offs in spring, bicycle parking needs very little space. Often though, the snow clearing folks ignore the bike parking as the thought is that ‘no one cycles in winter’.

winter bike parking
Bike parking is often ignored but important in winter too

Dress warm, but don’t overdress

While you can get away with regular clothes in warmer months, the winter requires extra layers, a balaclava, thick mittens and warm boots. Aren’t you freezing on the bicycle with frigid temperatures? Not really, as long as you dress properly. Compare it with cross country skiing: your body heat keeps you toasty as long as you dress properly and your clothes can breathe.

Mobycon is happy to help you figuring out a cycling strategy based on thirty years of experience in design as well as cycling in winter ourselves. We put our money where our (frozen) mouth is!

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