Winter cycling an affordable, convenient transportation option, say Winnipeg advocates

Despite bone-chilling temperatures and often treacherous snowy conditions on city streets, many Winnipeggers are embracing living in a winter city by choosing cycling as their year-round mode of transportation.

Bike Winnipeg’s Mark Cohoe said for some, it’s the only affordable transportation option.

“A car, a vehicle is a huge expense,” Cohoe told Global News. “(With) transit, the hours of the day are restricting you. The beauty of a bike really is that it’s point-to-point.

“The cost to you is really owning and maintaining the bike — so riding is no cost to you at all, you’re getting health benefits from it, and certainly you’re not worried about that storage, so it makes a huge difference.”

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Cohoe said he’s convinced we’d see many more cyclists hitting the streets year-round if the city consistently cleared and maintained bike paths through the winter.

“I’m hoping that the new mayor and new council can really look at increasing that investment we have in our active transportation pathways in our walking and our cycling,” he said.

“We really need to get more people walking and biking if we’re to have a response to climate change. We need to get less people driving and the way to do that is that people need to feel they have a comfortable route.”

As for the cold, Cohoe — who has been cycling year-round for more than 25 years — said it’s really a matter of dressing for conditions and making sure your ride is properly set up. His own bike, he said, has studded tires for traction in the snow, as well as proper fenders for when things start to melt, and good lighting.

Click to play video: 'Developing winter bike infrastructure in Winnipeg'

Developing winter bike infrastructure in Winnipeg

Longtime Winnipeggers aren’t the only ones venturing out into the cold on two wheels. Brazilian-born Patty Boge told Global News she gets to work daily via bike, year-round — a 45-minute commute each way.

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“If you can go for a walk, you can go for a bike ride.”

“In winter, you just have to put on more layers,” Boge said. “It’s a little bit more challenging because you have to worry about whether the paths are clear and whether the bike lanes are clear as well. You just have to contend with a little bit more.”

Boge said winter cycling saves money she would have spent parking downtown, and is a great way to get her daily exercise in, but there are definitely some challenges.

“It depends on whether they have cleared the snow onto the bike lane. I feel a bit safer when I’m on the bike lane.

“The truth is, in the winter, the drivers seem to get a little bit more impatient. They don’t want us on the road … but I’m just trying to get somewhere as well — just as much as they are.

“I’m not out here just for fun. This is how I get to work.”

Click to play video: 'Winter cycling in Winnipeg and biking gear'

Winter cycling in Winnipeg and biking gear

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