Dena Maxwell doesn’t just tolerate winter, she embraces it. She bikes from her home in Mount Pleasant to her job at the University of Calgary year-round.
“As one of my university professors said, there’s no such thing as bad weather — it’s just bad preparation,” Maxwell laughed.
She is part of a growing number of Calgarians who are choosing to use their bikes all year.
“It’s so much fun. It’s like summer biking except there’s a lot more challenges, a few more obstacles. You’re sliding around a little bit more, you’re going a little bit slower, but it’s honestly so much fun.”
The City of Calgary says on average, there are four times as many daily winter bicycle trips than before the cycle track was installed when comparing January 2015 (before the cycle) and January 2016 (after the cycle).
“We’ve also kept about 30 per cent of our summer ridership as they continue to ride through the winter,” said Kim Fisher, active transportation education planner with the City of Calgary. “With our snow clearing along cycle track roads and on bike lanes, it makes it easy and efficient for people to get around by bike all year-round.
“We are excited to see the number of people cycling in Calgary; there are so many of them now all year-round. Especially we are seeing more women and children biking in the winter. That’s something we want to see.”
The cold doesn’t deter Maxwell because she dresses for the weather and she says moving keeps her toasty.
Big dumps of snow have stalled her but even then she’s back in the saddle the next day once the roads and paths are cleared.
WATCH: Global reporter Carolyn Kury de Castillo says she’d take a bike in the snow over a cold car any day. Watch her video putting winter biking in perspective.
To help encourage more people to bike year-round, the City of Calgary is hosting a winter cycling workshop Tuesday night at Two Wheel View near the Sunalta LRT station.
Cyclists say the biggest challenge they face in the winter is more tension with vehicles, as some days the slushy conditions push them farther from the curb.
“The reality is bikes are allowed to be on the road just as much cars,” said Molli Bennett with Two Wheel View, “and feeling comfortable enough to take the space that you need to feel safe all year-round, because bikes are a vehicle and they are the vehicle I use all year-round.”
All-weather veterans say all it takes is a few extra layers, bike lights and something over your face and you are ready to take on the elements. Studded tires are nice, but not necessary.
“I wish I had done it sooner because it wasn’t as scary as I thought it was going to be,” Bennett said.
Maxwell figures if she can ski in – 20 C, there’s no reason she can’t bike in the same conditions.
“It looks intimidating and I think people think winter cyclists look miserable, but really it is such a great way to commute,” Maxwell said. “And I think changing that mindset and just getting out there, you are going to instantly love it.”