‘Don’t trash it till you try it’: Cycling through Edmonton’s cold snap

Zane Zaleschuk bikes to work on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020. Global News

Edmonton is just wrapping up from a major cold snap that led to numerous issues around the city.

Emergency teams in the city saw hundreds of 211 calls for vulnerable people, the SPCA recorded a record number of animal in distress calls, and at one point in the week, an LRT line near Southgate Centre cracked from the cold.

But through it all, Zane Zaleschuk was on his bike.

The Edmontonian cycles to work downtown almost year-round, rain or shine, through hot and cold.

“It’s difficult getting used to at first,” said Zaleschuk. “Really, it’s just getting used to it over the summer months and then I thought, ‘I’m not going to want to drive to work every day after this.'”

READ MORE: Calgary athlete who lives in her van shivers through cold snap: ‘This is the worst!’

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Zaleschuck said that he has a background in skiing and alpine sports, so he already had winter gear and a spirit for the cold. He layers wool and fleece to keep warm and uses an insulated snowboarding helmet.

He said he thinks it’s faster to get to work on his bike because he doesn’t generally deal with heavy commuter traffic.

Zaleschuk said if you dress for the weather, biking can be done year-round in Edmonton. Dave Carels / Global News

“The biggest challenges would be just kind of riding for the conditions and adapting because they can change day to day,” he said.

Zaleschuck has been riding to work almost exclusively on his bike for about two years. He said that this past Wednesday, when it reached -37 C, was one of the coldest days he’s been out.

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READ MORE: Bissell Centre in ‘dire need’ of clothing donations during Edmonton cold snap

He uses a regular mountain bike to get around on his three-kilometre commute, mainly using city bike lanes.

Zaleschuk mainly uses city bike lanes to make his winter commute easier. Dave Carels / Global News
“[The city is] really good at keeping the bike lanes clear and free from the snow. So that is something that if they weren’t on the snow removal, it would make my commute a lot more difficult.”

And he wasn’t alone out there. According to the city, between Jan. 9 and Jan. 15, about 120 bikes per day used bike lanes.

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“I try and rope people into it all the time,” he said. “And when they say, ‘You’re crazy. I don’t want to do that.’ I say, ‘Just try it. Don’t trash it till you try it.'”

Edmonton is finally set to warm up over the next few days.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton to close emergency overnight shelter at Commonwealth in 3 days

While the extreme cold warning remained in place Saturday with a low of -27 C and a wind chill of -38 in the evening, Sunday is set to see a balmy high of -15 C. By Monday, the city will be treated to a high of -2 C.

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