The words “polar vortex” have been spoken and written about a great deal in recent weeks. Yes, it is damn cold in some parts of America, but spare a thought for this Finnish town that is living proof that the cold doesn’t stop you from doing things.
In fact, winter cycling at below freezing is perfectly possible with the right planning and infrastructure.
Pekka Tahkola, an urban well-being engineer for Navico Ltd. and a cycling coordinator for the City of Oulu, took a photo of the local school’s bicycle parking lot in -17C recently to show that no matter what the conditions, nothing is keeping these kids off their bikes.
Because although it might seem strange for some parents to let their kids loose on two wheels, exposed to the icy cold of a northern winter, here in Finland it’s a perfectly normal and healthy thing to do. “We organized a study tour for participants from southern Finland for them to see how cycling to school is taken care of in our city,” Pekka told the informative environmental website MNN. “We visited a couple of schools and also spoke a lot with local teachers and principals. 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.”
“It’s normal; always been like that. I cycled and kicksledded to school when I was a kid, too,” he says. “And it’s the same thing even in minus 30 C.”