A barrier for many to take up winter cycling is acquiring the appropriate gear to make it possible. The town of Banff, Alta. is trying to fix that, encouraging residents to purchase studded bike tires to ride through the winter. The move promotes winter cycling and slightly lowers the cost-of-entry barrier.
In the first week of the initiative, the rebate was used 21 times accounting for more than one fifth of the allocated budget for the program. Cyclists who can provide evidence they live in Banff can get up to two rebates with proof of purchase.
“We want it to be more than the especially keen or the freaks or whoever people think winter cyclists are now, to being a more normal and accepted way of getting around,” said Banff’s manager of environmental services Chad Townsend to The Star.
Townsend said there was an opportunity to get low winter commuting numbers up from just two per cent of commuters using their bikes in the winter compared to 17 per cent in the summer.
Banff will also be co-hosting the 2019 Winter Cycling Congress with Calgary in February. The event brings together thinkers, advocates and cyclists from around the world to discuss riding in cold climates.
“We’re looking forward to hosting that, and we sat down as a little committee and thought about what ways we can both increase our winter cycling, increase its normalcy or acceptability and also get a legacy out of this event we’re a part of hosting,” Townsend said.
The move to encourage winter cycling is just one of many that Banff is taking to encourage residents to make energy efficient decisions. The town also offers rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances, water-efficient toilets and solar hot water heaters.