Tag Archives: Winter biking

That’s Right, Everyone Cycles in the Snow!

17 Jan

Apart from me, because I’m a scaredy-cat – and, honestly, I’m afraid of falling and ripping my jeans. Pathetic, I know, but I love my jeans.

Anyway, this post is a hark back to one written by ‘ithinkthereforeiamsterdam‘ – ‘On yer bike!‘ which amused me greatly and opened my eyes to the bike culture of Europe. Honestly, when I used to think of Amsterdam or Finland I didn’t think ‘bike’ – well, now I do.

In Finland cycling is for anyone. Little kids cycle in groups to school, students cycle to class, parents incorporate their kids into their lives by adding a child seat to their bikes. Old ladies cycle home from the store, their baskets heavy with shopping. In England cycling is reserved for health nuts and students too poor to pay for bus fare and many bikes are mangled by anti-social youths with little better to do with their time.

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Here in Finland there is a respect for bikes and the biker; it’s as much a part of their lifestyle as a trip to the sauna. Don’t get me wrong, bike theft still happens, but the majority of people get by with just a back wheel lock to secure their bike. They don’t even have to lock it to anything.  Throughout Finland there is a large network of cycle routes so you don’t have to risk it on the road and these are maintained throughout the winter, making bike travel possible through the seasons. Yes, it’s much colder and you have to be well prepared, but I’ve seen young kids bundled up to their point where only their eyes are still visible, and they’re still cycling.

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This website cites Finland as sixth on the list of ”Top 10 Countries With Most Bicycles Per Capita’ – that is, 60% of Finns are cyclists. It’s easy to see why; walking takes such an age on these straight, long roads and it’s so beautiful why waste the view with a car? Besides, it’s environmentally sound to ride a bike which follows the Finns love of nature and all things eco. Many prefer cycling to getting the bus – it’s quicker, cheaper, better and warmer than standing in the cold while you wait.

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Top tips for winter cycling:

  • Winter tyres – these allow for better grip, especially in early winter when there’s a lot of ice around. If you can’t afford them make sure you’re careful on corners, your breaks work and that you don’t pick up too much speed.
  • Warm clothes – you’ll need really good gloves and boots to combat the wind, as well as a scarf to cover your face, a hat and ski trousers. Wind speed decreases the temperature dramatically so be sure to wrap up, even if it’s just a quick trip to the store!
  • Bike Light and Reflectors – you want to be seen by both cars and pedestrians in the dark nights of winter, so think ‘Christmas tree’ and decorate yourself accordingly.

 

 

 

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