Bicycles oulu-bridge-plow

Published on October 22nd, 2015 | by James Ayre

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Protected Bike Lanes Critical in Colder Climates

October 22nd, 2015 by  
 

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Protected bike lanes might seem like a bit of a no-brainer (outside of DC churches, anyway). That’s especially true if one wants to spur greater rider safety and promote more widespread use, there are pretty definitely some regions/circumstances where the gain to be had in ridership is greater than in others. Cold, snowy places, for instance.

No matter how dangerous riding a bike amongst cars can be at the best of times, once ice and slush are added to the equation, it’s no surprise that many simply decide to leave their bikes at home during the winter and get in a car or take the bus.

With protected, dedicated bike lanes or off-street trails, though, things could be made considerably safer — giving people further incentive to keep their bike out of storage and continue to bike throughout the winter. Granted, this is already the case in some parts of the world (just not the US).

 

Protected Bike Lanes and Paths in Winter


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People For Bikes provides more on that:

    What has become clear is that when the conditions are right, winter bicycling in protected bike lanes can seem normal. It can be child’s play. In Oulu, Finland, nearly 50% of 13-17 year-olds bicycle year-round.

    Which raises the question: why? What is so right about the conditions in Oulu? The short answer is that they have a 500-mile combined bicycling and pedestrian network connecting homes with workplaces, schools, shopping and other destinations people need to reach in daily life. The network is separate from the road network used by cars and includes 300 grade-separated crossings and ample space alongside facilities for snow storage. The network is fully lighted and 98% of the network is maintained throughout the winter.

This is, of course, Finland that we’re talking about here, so it may not be a simple thing to transfer findings from such a situation to a place like the US. The rather relaxed method of trail maintenance during the winter should be noted, though. Rather than the use of salt, the snowy trails are simply compacted and sprinkled with gravel. I’ve had experience with such an approach in parts of Canada and can vouch that it works well enough!

Hmm, what would it take you to ride throughout the winter?

 

Originally published by Bikocity.


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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.



  • Marcel

    Some decent tyres would be a must but separate lanes would be better. I hate it when cars rip past me at more than 80 km/h. I wish the local newspaper would write something about that. Also dislike the smell of pollution but what can be done about that in the short term…

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