Pretty Pictures of Bikes in the Snow

"In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer." - Albert Camus 

Tonight I watched a documentary called Winter Cycling for Everyone produced by the international Winter Cycling Federation which meets for its yearly congress in places like Moscow, Russia and Oulo, Finland.

Rush hour in Copenhagen.
The documentary is full of gratuitous shots of multitudes of people in Oulo, Finland near the arctic circle biking everywhere in the snow. It's absolutely beautiful.

In white text the film proclaims, "It's not about the bike, the gear, the weather, and it's not dangerous. It's winter cycling for everyone. This means paths for anyone going anywhere from the heart of downtown, to the farthest suburb and to every major destination, going everywhere cars can go and some places they can't, with lights at night, signs to guide you, passing under big roads without stopping and sharing residential streets at human speed and plowing separated bike paths" (Okay I paraphrased some of that but some of that is their run-on sentence).

Just another day in Copenhagen, another winter cycling capital.
In the documentary, what struck me most is how normal winter cycling is in Oulo, so much so that some of the interviewees were confused by some of the questions (ie. Where do you bike in the winter? Um, everywhere?). They're very nearly in the arctic circle, which makes a Chicagoland winter look warm. Yet, their cycling rate remains high comparatively even in the winter. The major difference? They have a ton of separated bike paths. Said one father in the film, "It's just the most fun way to get around" (When asked, is it safe? He said, of course).  Another interviewee said "I just cycle 'cause it's the best way to get around." The separated bike paths make a difference the first interviewee said. I concur. Separated bike paths are an entirely different, totally relaxed
Oulu, Finland
commute, especially compared to bike commuting or even driving my car on city streets.

In Elgin, the sidewalks are almost clean again after the small amount of snow that fell last week. I was surprised to find that the same sidewalk ice I found slippery on foot, I barely noticed on bike. Sometimes I make sidewalks my bike paths. I take my space on the street where I need to. But I catch myself dreaming about a different world (dimension, universe, future?) where winter cycling would seem like obviously the best way to get around my city too. Besides, biking in the snow is just too pretty and magical to miss.

If you're a winter cyclist in the US, check out the video and feel that much less crazy. If you think winter cyclists are crazy, check out the video and be amazed at just how crazy and how many of us there are. If you just want to look at pretty pictures of the snow and enjoy inspirational quotes from profound thinkers, check out the video. See if it makes you even the least bit curious to join in the fun.

Oulu, Finland


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