Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Winter cycling depends on infrastructure, maintenance

In winter, non-cyclists often volunteer their opinion that it’s too cold or too wet to ride — in spite of being confronted by the contrary evidence of my being out and about by bicycle.

So when City Lab reported upon reduced winter numbers among seasonal cycling trends, it didn’t surprise me that cold was not the biggest factor in winter riding decisions.

Instead, the top factors are a bike network’s strength and how well it’s maintained in the winter. That’s according to Timo Perälä, organizer of the Winter Cycling Congress and a student of seasonal cycling trends.

“People who stop cycling as the winter comes mention two obstacles — no safe infrastructure, no winter maintenance — as the most important ones,” he told City Lab.

Perala highlights the winter maintenance practices of Linköping, Sweden, Copenhagen and Perälä’s own Oulu, Finland, where cycling levels remain relatively steady during more than 100 days of snowfall per year.

In Copenhagen, for example, the bike lanes are salted even before it snows and after snowfall, clearing them takes priority even ahead of clearing roadways for cars.

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