Oulu, Finland is the winter capital of the world. And yet, 22 per cent of trips in the city are done by bike, with three times as many people saying they ride regularly. It’s not just young people either. According to this video by Not Just Bikes, even older people will be spotted riding to work or errands by bike, even in – 20 C weather. Furthermore, at a school or university, a whopping 52 per cent of trips by students are done by bike.
Here in Canada, we often find problems with the plows prioritizing bike paths. After a big snowfall, cyclists will often notice that bike paths or dedicated cycle tracks will be full of snow, making them unridable. For those who use their bikes as a form of principle transportation, this is a big problem.
In Toronto, snow removal from paths can take days and days, making it impossible to ride across town by bike.
As of Weds. afternoon all main roads I cycled on were pristine pavement. Their adjacent bike lanes, 85% impassable. I appreciate cleaning crews working so hard, but I certainly noticed a ton of delivery cyclists & other riders out there @311Toronto #richmondstreet #bikeTO pic.twitter.com/TQCsVNGpYt
— The Biking Lawyer (Dave Shellnutt) (@TheBikingLawyer) January 19, 2022
Bike paths and cycle tracks have flourished across Canada with a big increase in people using bikes for either pleasure or commuting. But when the winter hits, snow can create an impediment to cycling.
The most “European” city of Canada, Montreal, seems to be leading the way for clearing bike paths fast. On Monday, after a huge snowfall, the city sent a large fleet of snow removers to try and plow the paths as fast as possible.
2,200-vehicle snow removal on Montreal streets, sidewalks, bike paths to begin Tues. 7 a.m. https://t.co/eKgBWoVOxJ
— Cult MTL (@CultMTL) January 17, 2022
The weather in Oulu, Finland is very comparable to many cities here. For some places, it could be even colder. Same with the amount of snow. If you watch this video, you may wonder why Canada can’t do the same. But it would involve more planning, and more work done by cities to plow the roads quicker and better so cyclists can ride as soon as the snow stops falling.
This clip demonstrates that winter cycling is not necessarily about the snow or temperatures. In fact, it’s all about investing in safer and more expansive cycling infrastructure.
Watch the video and see for yourself.