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Braving the ice and snow on a bicycle

Staff writers
November 13, 2012 — Some commuters ditch their cars for their bikes, even in the depths of Canada's cold winters.

Dr. Markland isn't the only one breaking out the bicycle in chilly weather.
Dr. Markland isn't the only one breaking out the bicycle in chilly weather.

Winter isn't normally considered cycling season, particularly in cities like Edmonton, where winter temperatures routinely plunge into the negative double digits.

It seems, however, that Edmonton resident Dr. Darren Markland didn't get that memo -- he prefers his bike over his car for his half-hour commute, even when the windchill makes it feel like -40C.

"It's truly a fun experience," Markland told the Weather Network's Farah Dhalla.  "Edmonton has gone a long way to making their winters more approachable for people who want to do physical activity ... and you have to accept that you might fall once or twice, but it's not the same thing as when you fall on bare concrete. You slide, and you get up."

Markland says riding his bike year-round is a great way to reduce his carbon footprint.

He adds as life in Canada has become easier, Canadians may have lost touch with being outside in the country's signature cold winter weather.

"I see this shift of making our lives progressively easier and while we've done it, we've lost a little bit of our Canadian identity, which is to be outside in the winter, to be okay with a little bit of adversity and cold," he says.

While cycling outside in an Edmonton winter may not appeal to anyone, it's a growing trend.

Christopher Chan, the executive director of Edmonton's Bicycle Commuters Society, says he wouldn't recommend would-be winter cyclists start out when it's icy and -20C.

"But it's certainly something that a lot of people can try when it's just a little bit colder than late fall," he said. "Just dress appropriately for it. You're looking at layers and just dressing for the weather knowing that you're going to be having some physical exertion."

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