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Don’t Read This …

November 6, 2013

… if clever, effective writing about cycling makes you upset or depressed at your own pathetic blogging.

From Business in Vancouver:

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A 2013 roadmap to doing a better job of biking to work

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By Peter Ladner
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The intoxication of fall’s ravishing purples and oranges distracted me from timing my winter cycling advice to coincide with Bike to Work Week. But since the sun is still shining as I write this, and cycling advice – especially mine, of course – is timeless, here are some pointers for those who have never biked to work in winter.In the spirit of media coverage of biking, I’ll keep it all negative: The Don’ts and Don’ts of Cycling to Work in Winter.Don’t listen to people who say “No one cycles in the winter.” That’s like saying “No one walks outdoors in the winter.”
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Don’t keep reading if you have to carry goods or kids or you have physical constraints that preclude cycling.Don’t keep reading if your commute is more than a 25-minute bike ride. For lots of people, that’s a reasonable maximum. (The average bike ride is 3.2 kilometres, and half of work commutes are longer than 7.4 kilometres.)  But don’t rule out longer rides, or cycling to the park-and-ride lot, or to a bus (they all carry bikes), or to a Car2Go, or to a nearby meeting.
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Don’t think you have to be young and fit. In Europe, the percentage of a particular age group that cycles stays constant through the generations: old people don’t stop cycling just because they’re old. My 92-year-old mother-in-law still cycles around Oak Bay in Victoria. My own experience recovering from broken legs taught me that cycling is less strenuous than walking. Remember you cycle sitting down.
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Don’t risk getting hit by a car. In most Metro Vancouver municipalities, you can go a long way on protected or at least designated bike routes that have very little traffic. Free bike route maps are available at most bike stores. Don’t ride in traffic if that bothers you.

Don’t cycle if you like fighting congestion, searching for a parking space, paying for parking, waiting for the bus, paying for gas or sitting beside smelly people on public transit.

Don’t cycle if you don’t like the freedom of being in complete control of your commute: how long it takes, where you choose to stop, where you park, where you shop en route…

Don’t think you have to dress up in lycra and become a bike dork. Millions of blue, pink and white-collar workers all over the world cycle in more severe winter weather than Vancouver’s wearing their work clothes. Carry your heavy or fancy indoor clothes in a shoulder bag or pannier. Lock your helmet on your bike so you don’t have to carry it around.

Don’t ever get cold or wet. With the right clothing, gloves, shoe-covers and fenders and a shrewd avoidance of downpours, you can always stay warm and dry. Remember that rain and cold always look worse when you’re sitting inside. Always carry rain gear, especially pullover rain pants and booties, just in case.

Don’t cycle in snow or icy conditions (temperatures below two degrees).

Don’t ride without bright lights front and back, a bell and an unceasing assumption that cars can’t see you.

Don’t sweat it – just slow down.

Don’t cycle if fresh air, exercise, having fun and losing weight turn you off, or if you prefer working out in a hot sweaty expensive gym with TVs and bad music.

Don’t cycle if it isn’t quicker, cheaper and more convenient than the alternatives.

Don’t ignore the advice of Dean Alexander, director of Cypress Capital, who never imagined cycling to work until the downtown bike lanes were built. He first tested it when he was 67. Now, he says: “My worst day cycling is better than the best day driving.”

Don’t be afraid to just try it. Just once.

Don’t be surprised if you get hooked. •

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 6, 2013 1:23 pm

    Thanks for the plug Gord. Don’t ever undersell your own blogging, if that’s what you were hinting at.

  2. November 6, 2013 6:19 pm

    Why don’t cycle below 2 deg? Check out the winter cycling conference. If they can do it in Winnipeg, you can do it in Vancouver!

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