News / Edmonton

'The sole reason why I am still cycling': Newbie winter bikers praise downtown bike grid

Protected bike lanes have made pedaling through the snow easier than ever.

A cyclist shown on Edmonton's downtown bike grid in November 2017. The new network opened last spring.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

A cyclist shown on Edmonton's downtown bike grid in November 2017. The new network opened last spring.

Winter seems to be here to stay in Edmonton, but a growing number of cyclists are choosing to not go into
hibernation, thanks to the city’s new bike infrastructure.

“I had never considered winter cycling before the bike lanes were built,” said Paul Check, a committed summer cyclist who usually puts the bike away when the snow flies.  

“I always jumped back into my SUV,” he said. “The downtown bike lanes are the sole reason why I am still cycling today.”

According to the city’s numbers — monitors count the number of cyclists at 12 locations on the grid every two weeks—he’s not alone.

On May 31, before the grid was opened, the city counted 2,454 people on bikes. After the grid opened in early June, counts had increased to almost 5,000 people by the end of the month.

Numbers stayed high all the way through the summer, before dropping to about 3,000 on Oct. 4.

On Nov. 5, there were still 1,154 people out pedalling around the 7.8-kilometre network.  

Bryan Alary has been biking the 18 kilometres from his home in St. Albert to his job at the University of
Alberta for years, but only during the summer months. But when it got cold this year, he invested in some studded tires and just kept going.

“Most of my riding is on side streets and few
multi-used pathways but I did try the bike lane on 105 Avenue and it’s really nice,” he said.

He said he found going on the bike lane a lot easier.

“It was very convenient. I felt safe being segregated from traffic, which is a luxury we often don’t have in other parts of the region, so yeah it was a nice experience,” he said.

“The snow was cleared off and it was kind of a joy to ride on, compared to some of the multi-use pathways up north, where they can still be snow-covered a day or two after it snows,” he said.

This is the first winter that Bryan Alary has continued to bike the 18 kilometers from his home in St. Albert to his job at the U of A even after the snow fell.

Kashmala Fida/Metro

This is the first winter that Bryan Alary has continued to bike the 18 kilometers from his home in St. Albert to his job at the U of A even after the snow fell.

Check said he found winter biking easier than he expected.

“I thought it would be quite uncomfortable and that I’d need to spend a ton to upgrade my bike and get all new gear,” he said.

He said he still hasn’t got winter tires, although he does plan on purchasing them, “so even with terrible tires, it hasn’t been that bad,” he said.

In fact, he said he finds that he usually overdresses.

“I arrive at work a little sweaty sometimes and need to wait outside to cool off.”

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