No one likes being cold. But, that doesn’t mean humans can’t handle frigid temperatures. The difference is, some people are more motivated to test their resiliency than others. A recently-captured photo is a timely reminder of this truth.
Recently, on a snowy day in Oulu, Finland, temperatures plummeted to minus 17 degrees C (1 degree F). However, this didn’t keep students who attend Metsokangas Comprehensive School from commuting on their bikes.
Year-round, about 1,000 of the 1,200 students travel to school by bike — even in winter. About 100 to 150 students walk. The rest commute by ski, kicksled, or car. The students’ ages range from 7 to 17 years old.
The students’ resiliency caught the eye of Pekka Tahkola, an urban well-being engineer for Navico Ltd. and avid cyclist. He was enthused by the neat rows of bicycles in the school’s snow-covered parking lot. So, he snapped a photo and shared it to Twitter.
1000 out of 1200 kids in this school in #Oulu, #Finland, arrive by #bicycle, even in winter. 100-150 walk, rest by ski, kicksleds and car. This day it was -17°C.
@WCCCalgary2019 #WCC2019 #wintercycling pic.twitter.com/8vgDEMf56R
— Pekka Tahkola (@pekkatahkola) February 6, 2019
Every year, Tahkola organizes a winter cycling master class and tours focused on smart mobility. One year, a study was also conducted to measure how cycling to school is managed in the city.
“We visited a couple of schools and also spoke a lot with local teachers and principals,” said Tahkola. “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.”
Some parents in the U.S. might have a hard time imagining their kid biking to school in snowy weather. But, it’s simply a part of the culture in Finland. “It’s normal; always been like that. I cycled and kicksledded to school when I was a kid, too,” he said. “And it’s the same thing even in minus 30 C.” (That’s minus 22 Fahrenheit)
Tahkola, who is also vice president of the Winter Cycling Federation, told MSN that bicycling in the winter is easier than most people think. At least, it is if the city maintains bike and walking paths and roadways. In Oulu, the paths are so well maintained that cyclists don’t need special tires or gears to ride on them.
“You can usually just use your single-speed upright granny bike with summer tires all year long, even on snow,” said Tahkola. ”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.”
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Credits: Pekka Tahkola/Twitter