You are here

VCB eNews, Vol 12, #11 - Winter Bicycling - What's the Problem?

E-mailed without cost or obligation to bicycle advocates around the world.


Velo Cape Breton is the Island wide voice of cyclists, working for better cycling in our great Island. We have made significant progress since our formation in 2004.  Visit our website that will introduce you to some of our activities.   If you have any questions, suggestions, or want to contribute to this eNewsletter,  please contact us at (902) 562-8137 or


Joining VCB is a proof of support to the community development and advocacy work done by the hard working volunteers of this club.  Your $10 will go a long way.  It's your 2013 legacy to the rising generation.  To join click  here. Check our Facebook page.



In this Edition

-  Editorial: Winter Bicycling -- What the Problem?

- Annual Awards and Prizes -- reprinted reminder! 

- VCB January Potluck -- reprinted reminder

- Loose Chain Links

-  About That Funny



". . . the kind of weather that reminds you after a long winter that while the world wasn't built for humans, we were built for the world."
— John Green






Maybe it's confirmation bias in my observations (I am looking for it, therefore I find it), but it seems to me lately there are articles and exhortations about winter bicycling everywhere. There are tips for staying motivated, staying dry, staying warm, and staying stylish while riding your bicycle in the winter months. 


Last February, I had the privilege of representing Velo Cape Breton at the 2nd Annual International Winter Cycling Congress in Winnipeg, MB. Experts in urban planning, transportation engineering, public health, and education delivered presentations on the issues facing cyclists and those who share the roads with them in winter. There were also many attendees and speakers like me: representatives from community or advocacy cycling organizations. It was a brilliant range of interest groups, and the congress format allowed those who designed transportation infrastructure and those who made decisions about it to interact with those who actually used it.


The topics discussed most were infrastructure, weather/climate, and snow clearing. While listening to a planner from western Canada lament the difficulties of dealing with complaints about snow in bike lanes, I felt like a Cape Breton version of one of Monty Python's Yorkshiremen, "At least you have a bike lane network in your city!" One ride in our own community recently, where snow filled the paved shoulder cyclists use, showed me just how important it is to clear roadways with ALL road users in mind, all year round. Even in cycling-friendly countries like Norway and Finland, bike paths enjoyed easily by a majority of the population in the warmer months become treacherous in winter when ice and snow block lanes and cyclists are forced to share lanes normally meant only for motor vehicles. 


An aspect of winter cycling that may not come to mind immediately is darkness. In northern countries cycling commuters are often on the roads during morning and evening rush hours, negotiating heavy traffic in low light or even complete darkness. It surprised me to learn a major public safety issue in the Netherlands is people riding their bicycles after dark without proper lighting. Twenty percent of crashes involving cyclists happen in low light or after dark. Studies have shown that a quarter of those crashes would have been avoided if cyclists had proper lighting. To address this, the Netherlands has implemented major public education and safety campaigns, including one to set up vending machines where cyclists "caught out" after dark can buy a cheap light, and an initiative to equip school children (children in the Netherlands cycle 2.5 million kilometres per year) with free bicycle lights. 


Attending the Winter Cycling Congress was a fantastic experience, one I hope to repeat some day. Millions of people around the world ride their bicycles in the winter, despite the cold and snow and darkness. Cycling commuting year-round is common in Europe and will likely become more common in North America. Communities will need to find ways to make cycling easier in the cold months. Anyone with a design for an environmentally friendly machine that clears bike lanes of snow without putting it in the motoring lane or on the pedestrian walkway -- your fortune is about to be made!



A few bikes parked outside the Winter Cycling Congress venue, Winnipeg, February 2013 (S. Porter)





VELO CAPE BRETON ANNUAL AWARDS : Looking forward, Looking Back


This is the time of year when we tend to reflect on the year that was and make plans for the new one.   At Velo Cape Breton we're doing the same thing.   Every year at the Potluck we recognize individuals or groups that have helped promote cycling.


We ask our members to point out people or things or groups that helped them take their cycling to another step.   We're very flexible about who or what we recognize, so let us know what you consider the most significant contribution to local cycling culture in 2014.


Maybe a friend got you to cycle on a regular basis, or maybe an event got you to cycle further than you thought you could, or maybe a new paved shoulder made you feel much more comfortable on the road, or maybe you got a new bike and were surprised by how easy cycling could be, or maybe cycling with your son or daughter got you out more.


In the past we've recognized: the most improved cyclist, the best ride leader, the best volunteer, the best chapter, the most motivating rider.   You get the picture: think promoting cycling.   If you have someone, something, or whatever that you'd like to nominate please contact me  (Andre) at :






Save Saturday January 17th for our annual Potluck.   It's timed just enough after the whole Xmas holiday season that you'll be eager for a night out.   Join us for great food, a few silly games, sneak preview of upcoming summer cycling events, and prizes.


Where: Dobson Yacht Club, 600 Westmount Road

When:  Saturday, January 17th, social 5:30 to 6:30pm, meal 6:30pm

Cost: just bring a main dish or dessert see below, Cash bar.


What to bring:  If your family name starts with a letter from A to M inclusive bring a main dish.  Letters N to Z bring dessert.  Please also bring a plate and cutlery to help cut down on the throw-aways, but don't worry we will have paper plates etc.


Who can come:  Members and friends/partners and children are welcome. Memberships will be available at the potluck if you need to renew. This is always a fantastic good time, and will inspire you to sign up for lots of cycling this season!





Hard to imagine in our sprawling, car-centric province, but bike messenger/delivery person is a job in many places:


Remember to get the plate number!


Lights are the law on bicycles in NS!


A challenge to do 30 minutes of activity every day for 100 days (local!).


 Bicycling for Life:


The Danish bicycle culture, in numbers:







A Sunday school teacher was telling her class the story of the Good 
Samaritan. She asked the class, 'If you saw a person lying on the roadside, all wounded and bleeding, what would you do?' A thoughtful little girl broke the hushed silence, 'I think I'd throw up.'


 A Sunday school teacher asked, 'Johnny, do you think Noah did a lot of fishing when he was on the Ark?'
 'No,' replied Johnny. 'How could he, with just two worms.'






Regular articles, including Loose Chain Links:

Word document or compatible, 12 pt Times New Roman. Please have submissions for the current edition submitted by the Monday prior.


Ads for Bike Buy & Sell: Word document or compatible, 12 pt, Times New Roman, submitted by the Monday prior. Ads will run for 3 weeks. Please inform the editor if the item is sold before that term is up. If the item doesn't sell, you may re-submit your ad.  


Photos: high resolution (photos taken with a phone are usually too low, but there may be exceptions); please name all the people in the photo, and give the event, date, and location.







Shelley Porter,  

Editor, Velo Cape Breton eNewsletter

VCB Cycling Ambassador.

January 15th, 2015

Theme by Danetsoft and Danang Probo Sayekti inspired by Maksimer