Winnipeg is notorious for its harsh winters, so it should come as no surprise that our city has been chosen to host the 2nd annual International Winter Cycling Congress. From February 12-14, cycling enthusiasts will gather at the Forks to listen to professionals and delegates from across the globe discuss anything and everything related to winter cycling.
“Winnipeg stands for winter in a lot of people’s minds… if it’s possible here, it’s possible anywhere,” says Anders Swanson, conference director.
“There are a lot of people that bike in the winter in Winnipeg. You have to look to notice them, because they’re stealthy, and take different routes, but there are quite a few here who do it.”
The inaugural year of the congress was held in Oulu, Finland, a city that is one of the leaders in winter cycling due to the number of people who ride year-round there.
“In places that do this well, it is the case that as soon as you are old enough to ride a bike that you are riding in the snow by default, because you have to get to school,” Swanson explains.
“They are riding their bicycles in the snow until they are completely immobilized from old age… this conference is trying to get at the heart of what makes that work.”
“ This conference is about cycling in the winter for everyone, and in order to really build a broad base of understanding and movement, this needs to be considered something that can be, and is, for everyone.
- Anders Swanson, Director of the Winter Cycling Congress
With the expansion of Winnipeg’s cycling routes since the active transportation initiative in 2005, there is an ever-growing commitment to improving cycling infrastructure, making our city an ideal venue for this event.
“With the stimulus packages we’ve seen a lot of new trails put in,” says Mark Cohoe, Executive Director of Bike Winnipeg. “There’s definitely been progress extending city cycling networks.”
“Getting snow clearing is one of our biggest challenges. If the city hasn’t kept up with its road clearing, it can be difficult,” Cohoe continues. “We want the city to come up with a priority plan for road clearing when it comes to cycling paths.”
At the Winter Cycling Congress, experts will be presenting from a number of different professions and viewpoints, discussing best practices for bike lane maintenance, snow route network design, DIY ways to adapt your bike to snow, rebuilding Winnipeg from the bicycle up, and much more.
“Attendees can expect to learn that each place is a little different, and yet there are lessons to be had from elsewhere, and when we work together and share information, we can take a big leap forward,” Swanson says.
It isn’t only intended for seasoned riders – anyone who wants to learn about aspects of winter cycling, and the cities that support it, is welcome at the congress.
“This conference is about cycling in the winter for everyone,” Swanson claims. “In order to really build a broad base of understanding and movement, this needs to be considered something that can be, and is, for everyone.”