Why Canadians Can't Bike in the Winter (but Finnish people can)

Why Canadians Can't Bike in the Winter (but Finnish people can)

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00:06
here in the netherlands our family routinely takes advantage of the network of safe cycling paths found almost everywhere these are so safe that even our young children can cycle themselves to school activities and friends houses and they have become an important part of the high quality of life we experience here unfortunately all of this is completely impossible back in canada because there we have winter and of course you can't cycle in the winter or so i'm told repeatedly by people who've never tried it this is
00:37
the city of olu in finland it is considered the winter cycling capital of the world this is a city where 22 percent of all trips are taken by bicycle and where 77 of the population says they cycle at least occasionally and yet despite their harsh winters over half of these people cycle all year round and it's not just the young and the strong who cycle in the winter here you'll see even very elderly people cycling in minus 20 degree weather
01:08
this is what the bicycle parking lot of a typical elementary school in oulu looks like in january because 52 of all trips to school and university are taken by bicycle somehow even little finnish kids can cycle all year round so this does lead to the obvious question why are canadians such giant wimps but maybe it's not quite that simple this is the city of tampara also in finland despite the fact that finnish people call this a swimming pool
01:39
far fewer people cycle in tempura compared to olu so why is this fortunately we don't have to guess because researchers have studied and written papers about winter cycling and the results are very clear in cities with cold winters there is almost no correlation between winter temperatures and the amount of winter cycling let that sink in the temperature and weather conditions do not significantly affect the level of winter cycling in a city it is a complete myth that people do not
02:09
cycle in the winter because of the cold so what does the research tell us well there need to be two things in place to get people to cycle like they do in olu first is there a network of safe bicycle paths is it possible to get to where you want to go without having to share the road or regularly cross paths with high-speed motor traffic this is something that olu does exceptionally well olu has 875 kilometers of separated bicycle paths that connect
02:40
every part of the city that's over four meters of bicycle path for every resident in fact olu has only about 600 meters of painted bicycle lanes in the entire city which makes perfect sense because when it snows you can't see white paint but you can see images cleverly projected on the snow from above nicely done olu and this is not some kind of super compact medieval european city either olu has plenty of car centric sprawl and many people live in single-family homes
03:12
in fact it has almost exactly the same urban population density as my hometown of london ontario in canada like this is creepy how close these numbers are and why is it that every city has the ugliest flags except for amsterdam anyway there is literally zero reason why a typical mid-sized canadian city couldn't be like olu if it was designed properly olu just takes the effort to connect every resident to the places they want to go with safe paths for walking and cycling and even better many of these bicycle paths are designed
03:44
to be shortcuts that are faster than driving encouraging people to cycle even more just as it's done in the netherlands and if that wasn't enough olu also has over 300 underpasses that pedestrians and cyclists can use to avoid major roads these make it possible to cycle entire journeys without ever encountering a traffic light or even needing to stop this should not be a surprise to anyone a network of safe bicycle lanes is the single biggest predictor for the level of cycling in any city in the world it's significantly more important than
04:14
any other metric including culture distance hills and in this case weather after a safe bicycle network the next most important element is snow removal is the bicycle network properly maintained in the winter and this is the real key to olo's success as there are very very very few cities that do this well toronto as an example is a city with fairly mild winters compared to finland and most of canada for that matter yet very very few people cycle there in the winter
04:44
when you look at videos of winter cycling in toronto is there any surprise most of toronto's bicycle paths are painted bicycle gutters these become dumping grounds for snow they're routinely driven over by drivers leaving treadmarks that melt and re-freeze into impassable paths of jagged ice forcing cyclists to share the road with cars even the proper separated bicycle paths often get snow dumped in them by snow plows and only a fraction of the already minuscule bicycle network is maintained in the winter
05:15
the city says they don't even start plowing unless there's more than five centimeters of snow this is the reason why few people cycle through the winter in toronto or any other canadian city not the weather in oulu the priority bicycle routes are all plowed within three hours of a two-centimeter snowfall and they will be plowed multiple times per day if necessary snow removal contractors guarantee that the depth of the snow will never exceed four centimeters and they maintain the
05:45
pass with hard packed snow that is free of ice and debris making it easy to cycle on to put it simply the bicycle pass in olu are considered important pieces of infrastructure that get people from point a to point b so they don't want cyclists to start competing for space on public transit or worse to drive cars just because it snowed they make it a priority olu proves that cold is not the issue snow is not the issue winter is a lazy excuse used by ignorant
06:17
people to make the discussion of safe road infrastructure go away the snow might explain why only 22 percent of trips in your city are taken by bicycle instead of say 42 percent but when less than 2 percent of your population rides a bike it's not because of the weather it's because people don't feel safe cycling period the truth is cycling in cold weather is really not bad at all toronto routinely gets cold days but without much snow
06:46
where the roads are perfectly clear so after getting sick of waiting on transit vehicles that were constantly stuck in traffic because canadian public transit is stupid and counterproductive i decided to try cycling to work in the winter and it was fine there's nothing hardcore or extreme about cycling in winter i did it and i assure you i am not a particularly tough person just ask my brother you mean my brother he's a total wimp at first i had some problems with ice
07:19
but then i discovered studded winter tires these things are like magic on ice i never slipped once when using them it's interesting to note though that most people do not use studded tires in olu because when you plow your bicycle paths properly they're not slippery at all and the same goes for sidewalks seriously winter maintenance of the sidewalks and bicycle paths in olu is incredible this is complicated and expensive but it's still a fraction of the cost of maintaining wide roads and highways for cars
07:49
olu shows what is possible if your city isn't bankrupt from maintaining too much car infrastructure olu tracks data on cyclists very well with automated bicycle detectors like these what's interesting is that the number of people cycling in winter stays pretty consistent until the temperature goes below about minus 20 degrees and even then it only drops by 15 percent this may surprise you but one thing i consistently hear from people who try winter cycling is that they're a lot warmer than they thought they'd be i thought
08:20
cycling in the winter would be frigidly cold but you warm up surprisingly quickly and cycling in the snow is actually quite pleasant drivers typically drive much slower the noise pollution of the city is muffled and it's easy to maintain a comfortable temperature in all but the coldest weather conditions i definitely prefer it by far to cycling in the rain some people like to talk about the gear you need for winter cycling so i'll share what i would typically wear when cycling in the winter first i recommend a
08:50
jacket this is like a big warm shirt that you wear over your clothes next you'll need gloves these are kind of like shoes but for your hands which is why both the dutch and the germans call them hand shoes i'd also recommend one of these woolen head coverings people call these by many different names but they're all wrong it's called a toque now that you've got your specialized gear you're ready to go cycling in the winter now when the temperatures get really cold like below minus 20 degrees you'll
09:23
want to wear more layers and a scarf but it's exactly the same kind of clothing that canadians routinely wear when skiing snowmobiling or doing any other kind of winter activity you can even get pogies for your bike to keep your hands warm just like they do for snowmobiles these are great thankfully several frigid canadian cities have stopped giving cyclists the cold shoulder and are warming up to the idea of winter cycling though progress is still glacial insert joke about snow edmonton alberta recently built a network of protected
09:53
bicycle lanes downtown and now plows the protected bicycle network with the same priority as major roads when i was in yellowknife which is here i was impressed by the quality of the new bicycle infrastructure they were installing and montreal saw an 83 increase in winter cycling in 2020 over the previous year's average likely due in part to the addition of more separated bicycle lanes they've also started to use not just snowplows but ice crushing machines like this one to clear the bicycle paths and i really enjoy the dramatic music in
10:24
the manufacturer's marketing video but while this is good progress all of this pales in comparison to olu edmonton only plows a small 8 kilometer bike network downtown and only within 24 hours most of yellowknife's bike network is still painted bicycle gutters and montreal puts away their bike share bikes for the winter unfortunately winter is still used as the number one excuse for inaction in canadian cities even in cities that get very little snow in the winter meanwhile olu gets more snow than almost
10:59
any major city in canada canadians also love to exaggerate about the cold but most canadian cities only get a handful of really truly cold days per year just like finland but when your only exposure to winter is the walk across the parking lot to your car you never get used to the weather and you get an exaggerated sense of how cold it gets ultimately like everything else with cycling it just comes down to safety and convenience and cold weather doesn't significantly change that
11:30
a great place to learn more is the winter cycling congress that happens every february this event brings together advocates and professionals with a goal of making year-round cycling a normal and practical activity a viable transportation option for people of all ages and abilities regardless of winter weather conditions this year the congress is being held online on february 11th so it's easier than ever to attend more information on that is in the comments and at wintercycling.org but whether you attend the winter cycling congress or not we need more
12:02
people to learn the truth about winter cycling it's not the cold it's not the snow it's a proven fact that people of all ages will ride a bicycle in the winter but only if the city is designed for it and more places should be designed this way so that cities can be as healthy productive convenient and sustainable as olu i'd like to thank my supporters on patreon who pay me to call out wimpy snowflake canadians who can't handle a little bit of cold if you'd like to support the channel and
12:32
get access to bonus videos visit patreon.com nachospikes [Music] [Music]
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okay [Music] i can't hear [Music] [Music] [Music] [Applause] [Music]
15:07
[Applause] [Music] wow

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