Countdown to the Coldest Day of the Year Ride: "#vikingbiking? Nope, just going to a meeting."
We're counting down to our Annual Coldest Day of the Year Ride! What better way to build momentum than to feature Toronto riders who commute by bike year-round - regardless of the weather?
To kick things off, here's how Director of Programs, Keagan, dresses for those cold, blustery days - and why she chooses to ride even when the forecast isn't the friendliest.
What is your typical commute like?
I ride 7 km round trip from the Bloor and Ossington area to the Cycle Toronto office at Queen and Spadina. I ride almost every day because it’s hands down the fastest and most convenient way to get there, I feel good when I get to work, and it's easy to pick up groceries or do errands on my way home.
Why do you ride in the winter?
Truthfully, biking has become such a part of my normal routine that nothing else feels as good. Sure, when it’s cold or rainy there is a part of me that doesn’t always feel like layering up, but it’s amazing how much warm and water resistant clothing can do for you.
How does your riding change in the winter?
I usually take the Bloor bike lane to work, and I must say, it’s been a pleasure to ride on this winter. I sometimes take St. George St and I sometimes take Huron which is a quieter street, depending on the snow level. While my typical route home from work is through Kensington Market and College St most of the year, I have to adjust my route on snowy days to ride on main roads that are clear like Spadina and Dundas, rather than take roads with painted bike lanes which may not be cleared. This is especially true where parked cars are bringing snow and slush in and out of the bike lanes with them.
What’s one tip you’d share with someone new to winter biking?
Plan to be multi-modal and check the weather forecast in the morning. I leave my bike at work if we end up getting a snowstorm and I either pack for walking home, or make sure my Presto card is ready for a TTC ride. If things are clear the next morning, I’ll sometimes take Bike Share.
What are your winter riding accessories?
I’m not really into looking like I’m wearing gear so for me, it’s all about the wool because it’s warm, water resistant and more stylish. As someone who doesn't want my asthma to get in the way of staying active, my number one item is my wool scarf which helps warm the air I’m breathing in and protect my face from the cold. I invest in good wool socks, use a double glove/wool mitten combo, and layer up under my wool coat. My other essentials are leather boots, rain/slush pants for days I wear dresses and skirts, and a hat that fits under my helmet. I also ride the same commuter bicycle year round.
What’s one myth you’d like to dispel about winter biking?
That nobody bikes in the winter. With a clear path and a commitment from the City to provide a network of snow routes, there is no reason people wouldn’t bike all year round. As cities like Copenhagen have shown, it’s not the temperatures that determine whether people will ride, it’s the road conditions. If you clear it, they will come!
Stay tuned for our next #bikewinterview, coming Friday, January 26!