Winter Biking Made Easier
Winter bike riding can be unpredictable and even the most experienced bicyclists may feel unmotivated to ride, but resisting the urge to put your bike into hibernation and instead finding ways to go by bike year-round has the same great physical, mental and environmental benefits that keep us loving bikes. Read on for ideas on how to make winter bicycling a more safe and comfortable option for those in your community, at your business or on your campus with examples we’ve seen over the years from our Bicycle Friendly America Program.
Winter Bike to Work Day
Many cities, businesses and universities celebrate International Winter Bike to Work Day, a day to encourage cyclists to brave the cold and ride their bike to work. In the state of Colorado, both Denver, a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community, and Boulder, a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community, host Winter Bike to Work Day events that include breakfast stations and winter biking tips from topics like bike maintenance to what to wear while winter riding.
The Health District of Northern Larimer County, a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Business in Fort Collins, Colorado, hosts its own station in participation of Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Community Fort Collins, Colorado’s Winter Bike to Work Day.
Other Events and Incentives To Ride
Ann Arbor, Michigan, a Gold-level Bicycle Friendly Community, encourages residents to keep biking through the chill and supports local businesses with its “Conquer the Cold” challenge. “Conquer the Cold”, is hosted by getDowntown, which provides commuting programs and services to downtown Ann Arbor employees and employers.
How It Works: The goal of the month-long challenge is to encourage non-car commuting through commute tracking and educational seminars, as well as drive traffic to downtown businesses since restaurants/shops struggled through the winter with limited dining options due to Covid19 restrictions. Participants earn digital badges and prizes, such as gift cards to local businesses, when they log rides and complete specific commute trips.
Gresham Smith, a Platinum-level Bicycle Friendly Business in Louisville, KY, also supports local community bike shops while promoting winter bike commutes with a photo challenge:
“We have invested dollars in raising awareness for the dependence on bikes by hosting winter bike commute challenges. The firm donates $10 per head to local community bike shops for every winter bike commuter that posts a picture and tells us something about what biking means to them.”
How It Works: Residents receive complimentary stickers and acrylic charms with a phone number to call in reports of local infrastructure that needs snow plowing to the DOT and Municipality of Anchorage.
In Arlington, Virginia, a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly Community, the Department of Recreation made an initiative to treat and clear 10 miles of high-volume, multi-use County trails during the winter season, giving places where people walk and bike the same snow removal priority and response time as primary arterial streets.
Winter Bike Education
Carnegie Mellon University, a Silver-level Bicycle Friendly University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, hosted a “Winter Riding Tips Seminar” to provide interested students strategies on how to dress so they do not get too cold or warm when biking, prepare their bikes, and what weather is too bad to ride in.
How It Works: CMU graduate students demonstrated proper winter bike prep using their own supplies and answered questions during the hour-long seminar. The popular event increased the number of students using bikes in the winter, furthering the university’s goal to empower people to make choices for themselves.
If your school is interested in hosting an event similar to this, Karen Brooks, a Bike Consultant at CMU, recommends putting together a panel of experienced bicyclists to provide different perspectives to the group. She also suggests focusing the seminar on how students can prep their bikes without needing to spend a lot of money. For instance, fenders can be made out of recycled pop bottles.
If you’d like to learn how the Bicycle Friendly America program can help your business, community or university become more bicycle-friendly, visit bikeleague.org/bfa.