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Civic Impact

Winter bikers put Toronto in top 10 of international challenge

The Finnish campaign to get people winter biking got the city of Oulu second place in this year's challenge

Toronto came in in eighth place in this year’s International Winter Bike to Work Day.

Two hundred and seventy intrepid local cyclists signed up for the challenge. But it wasn’t enough to win. Zagreb, Croatia, and Oulu, Finland, took the top two spots, with 842 and 680 citizens, respectively, pedalling themselves to work on February 12, which might be considered the dead of winter. Toronto was also outdone by Novi Sad, Serbia, Calgary, Montreal and Moscow.

It wasn’t a matter of who had the best weather. Temperatures were lowest in Montreal (minus six Celsius) though Toronto was a chilly minus three compared to Zagreb’s balmy four degrees Celsius. Endurance and fortitude in the face of sub- or near-zero temperatures seem to be built into the challenge; Los Angeles, Bangkok and Mexico City did not make the leaderboard.

In total, 10,845 people from around the world committed to bike to work or school on February 12, in a demonstration that biking can be a year-round form of transportation and that motorists shouldn’t assume that cyclists disappear until the spring.

“No waiting for mom, dad or buses. Freedom and bragging rights!” commented one Toronto year-round cyclist as part of the challenge’s websie. “Riding a bicycle in the winter makes you look tough. Here’s a secret: it is actually pretty easy and fun,” commented another.

In a survey of participants, 76.2 per cent said they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their route to work by bike, the same percentage who said they were satisfied or somewhat satisfied with the winter maintenance of cycle paths or tracks in their communities. Just 53.6 per cent of respondents said they feel it’s safe to cycle in their community in the winter.

Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: International Cycle to Work Day
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