Since it’s summer you might not be thinking of winter bicycling. Why not though? If you’re like most people, you’ll be out on a bicycle a few times during the nice weather this summer and you’ll feel how nice it is to ride. Remember that feeling! In the winter you really should be out riding your bike too, it’s still safe and it keeps you warm. Presently, some cities around the world encourage winter cycling but we should see even more winter cyclists every year as riding gains popularity.
Most assumptions about winter cycling are based on the same myths no matter where you are from. Those -30C days do happen in Winnipeg, but they are pretty uncommon; yet we allow the deep freeze days to characterise an entire winter. We also conveniently forget that cycling keeps you warm â€“ comfortably so. In an urban environment, the risk of being harmed by the weather while cycling is reduced to nil with a basic scarf and jacket. We assume that winter cycling is dangerous but somehow we forget that vehicle speeds are the real issue, and that they drop in the winter. It shouldnâ€™t be surprising when a study shows that cycling in the winter months with steady conditions is relatively safe compared to cycling in June.
When we wonder out loud â€œwhy anyone would ever want to spend more than a few minutes outside in a place like thisâ€, we forget about its beauty. Winter is a glorious spectacle of glittering fractals complete with a soundscape and atmosphere entirely its own. Some of us have forgotten the bright side of winter: the simplicity, the efficiency, the pragmatism. In transportation terms, winter is all smooth, clean lines and quiet sounds. Bikes fit right in. Perhaps sitting in cars has dulled our senses.
Winter can be tough for some people. If you are a person who feels down and out during the colder months there is an easy thing you can do to improve the season: change your attitude. Seriously. Recent research into how Norwegians relate to winter can help you in the times of snow.
Don’t deny the troubles of winter, instead, think about all the great things winter brings.
Most likely you canâ€™t cross-country ski straight out of your house, and while Norwegian sweaters may be catching on, restaurants and coffee shops in more temperate climates donâ€™t all feature the fireplaces and candles common to the far north. Still, there are little things non-Norwegians can do. “One of the things we do a lot of in the States is we bond by complaining about the winter,” says Leibowitz. “Itâ€™s hard to have a positive wintertime mindset when we make small talk by being negative about the winter.”
Shaffer bikes for the health benefits and to reduce gasoline consumption, save money and clear his head. He bikes even when he has community activities after work; he just rides his bike home afterward.
Lisa Houser, 24, bicycles all around Columbus to substitute teaching jobs.
“It’s a good way to start the day in general and it keeps my blood flowing,” said Houser, who sold her car before winter began and has taken the bus only once since then. She started riding five years ago while living in Florida; this is her second winter in Ohio.
“I just kind of threw myself into it,” said Houser, who lives in the south end of Clintonville. “It saves my conscience from worrying about environmental destruction.”
As of yesterday, Houser and other die-hard bicyclists had peddled through 13 days of below-average January temperatures, including four when the mercury plunged to zero or lower.