A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Winter Biking

Here's a blog post about a fellow in Indiana who biked his toddler to daycare this morning in 15 degree weather. With proper clothing, the kid arrived warm and toasty. "I’d rather stay warm with a bit of extra clothing than to wear a 4,000 lb car for a short crosstown trip," writes the author. "I mean, when the primary reason you take a car on trip is a feature associated with clothing— like keeping you warm— then you are primarily wearing the car, right?"

People often ask me amazed questions about biking in the winter, like it's a special feat of endurance. I like to remind them that many other people pay $50 a day to go skiing in even colder conditions in the mountains - and they frequently take their kids with them, too.

Here's a winter biking gear graphic from the Toronto Star that's been making the rounds recently:

Personally, I think this much gear is a bit over the top, and silly-looking to boot (I really don't get the spandex - this guy's lugging 30 pounds of extra gear and he's worried about his wind resistance?). I typically wear the same clothes I wear at the office, plus an extra sweater and a hooded jacket to cover my ears and neck. Maybe I'd want a balaclava or facemask if I didn't have facial hair, but I've survived without one so far. It's winter - I'll be OK if parts of my face get cold.

On the few days of the year when there's accumulating snow on the streets, I could dig out my ski goggles and shell out a hundred bucks for studded tires. Or I could just take the bus. So far I've opted for the latter.

Winter biking does require a lot more diligence with bike maintenance and cleaning of your chains, brakes, and cables, with all the salt and slushy grime that's on the roads. In my opinion, that's a much bigger hassle than the cold.

Local blogger Shea Gunther has a good series of posts about winter biking in Portland on his Mother Nature Network blog.

1 comment:

Turbo said...

I'd been wondering whether you were biking to work on these days when the Rt. 1 shoulder is under multiple inches of grimy snow. I've been taking the bus myself most days-- probably passing you en route. I have to say, though, I find the bus depressing. I spend most of the ride trying to think of ways to make it a more appealing experience.