snow bike Toronto

Toronto divided over whether people should bike in the snow

Trying to ride a bicycle in Toronto during winter seems almost as hard as trying to understand why anyone would want to ride a bicycle in Toronto during winter.

Whipping winds and frigid temps can make even a short walk unbearable when it gets too cold outside, let alone a bike ride.

Add in some slippery roads and restricted visibility and things can get downright dangerous.

And yet, Toronto continues to see its fair share of winter warriors braving the elements on two wheels each and every day. In fact, there was a record turn out for the annual Coldest Day of the Year Ride last weekend. 

Those who do ride in the winter tend to be passionate about the pursuit, and there are, of course, many valid reasons for riding a bike all year round.

 For some people, the risk is worth it to avoid taking subways or streetcars to work. Almost.

There's also the exercise factor. Plus, modern cycling technology makes riding in the snow more comfortable and plausible all the time.

Many in the city are still shocked by the sight of people cycling along snowy streets, however – and yes, I mean streets. Bike lanes aren't even an option some days.

The whole "why do people keep riding their bikes during winter?" debate comes up with some regularity on Twitter, especially when there's snow everywhere, as is the case right right now.

"If only we lived in a climate where we could cycle 12 months of the year...people always forget about our winters," wrote one local commuter on Twitter this week in response to a tweet about cycling infrastructure.

"People DO Cycle 12 months/year, here too," replied a snow cyclist. "They  buy winter clothing."

"And winter tires?" said the original tweeter. "No thanks. I don’t need to wipe out on ice and snow."

And so on and so forth went the thread, with other cyclists weighing in to say how much they enjoy the unconventional commute.

It might not be every citizen's cup of tea, but those who love it sure seem to love it.

Tomorrow, Feb. 9, is actually "International Winter Bike to Work Day." Plenty of cyclists will be participating in California, for sure, but Toronto? I guess we'll see.

Lead photo by

Josh Ocampo


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