Winter Cycling and the Carrot over the Stick

Cycling in summer is usually associated with carefree commuting, gliding past lines of traffic with the sun on your face and wind in your (helmeted) hair. We know it’s not always the case, but compared to the idea of cycling in winter, it’s clear which is preferred! Whilst we can’t get away from the fact that winters in Aoteroa are generally cold and wet, we also can’t escape the gnawing thought that we need to be less reliant on our cars, not just on the sunny days, but the cold and wet ones too.

Government subsidies have been proven to incentivise individuals to make environmentally conscious transport decisions. Actions such as subsidies are a clear winner over forcing commuters to make changes with penalties such as congestion charges. In 2020, Oslo, a city known for its frozen winters, offered cyclists a financial incentive to swap over to winter tyres so they could continue cycling year-round. This proved so popular that more than 4,000 commuters signed up in the first week. In fact, we could learn a lot from our European cousins where cycling in temperatures below -16ºC is common.

What could we learn from this? Indeed, you don’t need to spend a whole heap of money to allow you to cycle during the winter, but getting the right kit that keeps you not only warm and dry, but safe, can be quite an incentive when tossing up between the car keys or the bike helmet in the morning.

So if subsidies prove so popular, how far should they go? Would you consider commuting during winter if you were given a subsidy for bike lights, waterproofs and gloves? How about subsidised bike maintenance? Or do you think that the onus should be on the individual rather than the government?

Support the specific needs of individuals to make better environmental choices, and chances are they’ll make those choices.

Head on over to our Facebook page and let us know what it would take to get you commuting on your bike this winter, or do you already commute through the dark months and have some killer tips to share with us? We look forward to hearing from you!