MSP has long been the hub of winter biking innovation
and locals are staying car-free through the winter
in ever-growing numbers. But this week, MSP is actually
the center of the winter biking universe.
That’s because the annual Winter Cycling Congress
is in town through February 4. As the St. Paul Winter Carnival
sashays to a jolly crescendo, several hundred hardy souls are suiting up across (and around) town to show off the latest in winter biking technology and policy.
Winter Cycling Congress 2016 is the fourth ever and the first to be held in the United States. (Previous locations: Oulu, Finland; Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Leeuwarden, Netherlands.
Winter Cycling Congress 2016 “celebrate[s] the diversity of the North American cycling movement while also welcoming inspiration, best practices and lessons from bicycle-friendly communities around the world,” according to the event’s website. The event takes place at four venues: The Commons Hotel in Downtown East
, Minneapolis; Coffman Memorial Union at the U of M; the Weisman Art Museum, also at the U of M; and, of course, at the St. Paul Winter Carnival.
Winter Cycling Congress 2016’s programming includes formal lectures from cycling experts, meet-and-greet networking sessions, informal discussions, group workshops, extracurricular activities (such as bike-themed trivia at St. Paul’s Amsterdam Bar), and — of course — lots and lots of cycling.
Winter Cycling Congress 2016 is a once-in-a-decade opportunity to kick local bike culture into another gear. Although MSP takes for granted its hardy winter cyclists, the region’s winter cycling rates (known as mode share) actually trail many European cities’.
Oulu, the first Winter Cycling Congress host city, maintains a 25 percent cycling mode share through the entire winter, despite a snowier climate and a near-Arctic location that makes for depressingly short winter days. In MSP, cycling’s mode share drops precipitously on cold days, according to data collected by Nice Ride, and falls further once the snow starts flying.
“One of our goals is to make bicycling more inclusive for everyone and we recognize that our climate plays a role in that. We know there are creative strategies to enable people to be able to still bike in the more snowy months,” said Janelle Waldock, vice president of community health and health equity for Winter Cycling Congress 2016 title sponsor BlueCross and BlueShield of Minnesota, in a recent MinnPost
The Winter Cycling Congress is organized by the Winter Cycling Federation, an international organization dedicated to furthering winter cycling, and locally by the Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota. Keep up with the latest news from Winter Cycling Congress 2016 on the event’s website or follow the hashtag #WCC16 (official Twitter handle @wintercycle2016).