Though it might seem strange for some parents to let their kids loose on two wheels, exposed to the icy cold, 1000 out of 1200 kids in this school at Oulu, Finland, bikes to school even in the winter.
And they don´t even lock the bicycles!
We’ve heard so often that cycling isn’t a good option in winter, rain, snow, and ice. Many people find these weather conditions unsuitable for biking.
Well, this Finnish town is proving everyone wrong, showing us that cycling is perfectly possible in winter months too—you just need the right planning and infrastructure.
Pekka Tahkola, an urban well-being engineer for Navico Ltd. and a cycling coordinator for the City of Oulu, recently took a photo of a local school’s bicycle parking lot in -17C to show us that no matter what the conditions, nothing is keeping these kids off their bikes.
Pekka told the informative environmental website MNN:
“We organized a study tour for participants from southern Finland for them to see how cycling to school is taken care of in our city.”
“We visited a couple of schools and also spoke a lot with local teachers and principals. I’m pretty sure this school is among the best ones. It is definitely not the only one, and there are numerous schools in Oulu where the majority of kids cycle and walk to school.”
Although it may be hard for many parents in the U.S. to imagine letting a kid bike to school in any weather, it’s the norm in many parts of Finland.
“It’s normal; always been like that. I cycled and kicksledded to school when I was a kid, too. And it’s the same thing even in minus 30 C.”
Cycling is easy and possible even in winter, according to Pekka, who’s also the vice president of the Winter Cycling Federation.
‘It has to be — in Oulu, they typically have snow from November through April.’ The bike and walking paths are so well maintained that riders don’t need special tires or gear to navigate them.
“You can usually just use your single-speed upright granny bike with summer tires all year long, even on snow. We have great infrastructure and winter maintenance that make cycling fast, easy and comfortable even in winter conditions. The distances are often shorter than with a car.”
And when Pekka tweeted photos of school kids cycling in the snow, he was overwhelmed with the responses, mostly from abroad.
People lamented that their communities couldn’t be as bike-savvy as this one. But Pekka admits that not all schools in the country are this progressive.