Cyclists hot for the cold

Even as the weather gets cold and the snow hits the road, cyclists are still riding around the city.

Cyclists live the motto erroneously attributed to the U.S. Postal Service, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”

Cycling is something that can be done in any and all conditions. Riding in winter isn’t always simple as in the summer when you just throw on a pair of flip flops and who cares about a shirt, but you can stay warm and healthy just the same.

Recently, there was a discussion in the forums about the state of the bike lanes with the arrival of the snow.

A driver suggested that bikes be put away until safety concerns could be dealt with by waiting for spring. As if all cyclists want to sit on their butts while all that beautiful snow lies on the ground ready to make some awesome tracks in.

There are folk in Edmonton who ride in 30 centimetres of snow and temperatures in the minus 20s. We have it easy here by comparison. I’m not saying it’s easy, but definitely easier.

Toronto has a huge winter cycling community. They wear ski and snowboarding helmets to keep warm as they brave head winds that cut speed by half and keep the thighs burning from effort.

Kelowna has a moderate winter that has a few good dumps of snow, but stays pretty dry. No hills to worry about where there might be worry about ice accumulation at the bottom.

It is still an uphill battle with the City of Kelowna — separated facilities such as the multi-use paths and cycle tracks are ignored in favour of roads.

While sometimes the snow might be cleared quickly, it can also take days to have the tractor run over it with the plow. There isn’t any sanding equipment for paths like these, so it ends up being compacted snow or just plain ice.

The cycle tracks along Ethel Street are completely ignored so cyclists using that corridor will be on the road with cars. If you drive this route, please be sure to slow down and give cyclists plenty of room in this weather.

Earlier this month, NOCAT (North Okanagan Coalition for Active Transportation) hosted a workshop to help get cyclists more comfortable with winter riding.

Almost 30 people attended to learn something new or brush up. It’s a good start considering how car-centric our area is year-round.

With the lack of clear bike lanes, “snow storage” is what the city called it a few years ago, cyclists are going to be riding in the vehicle lanes when they’re confident.

Sadly, I see plenty of bikes on the sidewalk instead and I wish it were otherwise.

People will be out there in this winter weather for many different reasons, in a car, on a bicycle, and on foot. We need to treat everyone with the same respect.

Winter cycling won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. Until the separated cycling infrastructure is cleared there are many people who won’t even think about getting out on two wheels.

But the more we can facilitate safe cycling the smoother all the traffic flow will be.


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About the Author

As a youngster on two feet, a teenager on two wheels, then a young adult on four wheels, Landon has found that life is really about using all modes of transportation. Currently a cycling advocate with the Kelowna Area Cycling Coalition he tries to lower road rage on both sides.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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