Winter cycling becoming more popular
Published Friday, January 9, 2015 6:07PM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 9, 2015 6:59PM EST
Cycling, it’s not just for summer anymore.
And winter cycling isn't just for a handful of hard core enthusiasts anymore either.
Pedalling year round has become much more popular in recent years. The folks at Full Cycle in east Ottawa say it used to be they could go an entire winter day without the phone ringing or the door opening. Now business is as brisk as the temperatures. “Every day, absolutely, it’s getting easier to ride to work. It’s getting easier to ride for fun in the wintertime every single year,” says Full Cycle’s Al Colantonio.
Winter riding is now more accessible thanks in part to advances in cycling technology. The industry now caters to winter cyclists with specific clothing and equipment that keeps them warmer, more visible, and more stable on two wheels.
Fat bikes have become popular in recent years. These are bikes with oversized, low-pressure tires designed to ride over the snow. “It’s like having snowshoes,” says Colantonio.
And winter commuters on regular bikes have their choice of tires with metal studs, or made of a soft rubber compound similar to winter tires for automobiles. Some cyclists say they have better traction on their bikes than many of the vehicles around them.
Yet despite these improvements, many drivers are still leery of sharing winter roads with cyclists, especially as growing snowbanks make those roads narrower. "I find them to be very dangerous," said one motorist. Pierre Tanguay says he’s had a few run-ins with drivers on his daily commute. “Oh yeah, they get mad at me. I get mad at them. It’s a two-way street,” he says.
Tanguay and others say the city needs to do a better job of keeping bike lanes and paths clear in the winter to make it easier for vehicles, both four-wheeled and two, to share the road.