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Winter: Cold, Yes; Boring, NO! – Winter Cycling in Edmonton

Winter Shake Up Event Offers New Approaches to Urban Winter Life

Did you know that the average Edmonton winter lasts 151 days? Brrr—but that doesn’t mean residents go into hibernation mode. In fact, the city is keen to take advantage of all the unique things that winter allows and considers itself a “winter hot spot”.

The Winter City Shake Up, held in Edmonton on January 28 – 30 was all about spreading a positive attitude of about getting the most out of winter cities everywhere. About 600 people, everyone from residents to urban planners, designers, entrepreneurs and artists from around Canada and Europe attended the three-day conference. The conference enabled a diverse mix of city builders to come together and share ideas of what is working best in their communities when it comes to celebrating winter rather than hiding from it and creating playful, creative winter communities.

Urban Systems partner Edward Stanford attended the event with team members and clients to help inspire thinking around planning and designing in Fort St John. He says the event highlighted that a higher level of community design, programming and maintenance can be achieved by embracing the physical aspects of winter.

“It was really refreshing to find so many like-minded folks that just love winter too, and that have used this appreciation to help design more accommodating communities. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing! Buy a parka and boots if you live in a winter city and get out there and have some fun.”

Winter Cycling Workshop

Edmonton: A city that knows winter.
Team members from other Urban offices were also at the event to host a Winter Cycling Tour—an event that was part field trip and part workshop. As part of the workshop, 25 participants were taken on a one-hour bike tour from the Edmonton Conference Center to the High Level Bridge, through a multiuse pathway in Railtown, and finally down to the Yellowhead Brewery, (a block away from the Urban Systems Edmonton office) where participants settled in for lunch and a beer and to hear Urban Transportation Planner Brian Patterson give a presentation about cycling in winter cities. His talk highlighted success stories of other cities that are doing a great job at encouraging cold weather bike riding.

Transportation Engineer Josh Workman helped lead the bike tour and says it was a great day that left participants inspired. “It was really fun, we got out there and experienced a bike ride on a beautiful winter day and we talked about challenges of cycling in winter, and perceived barriers we need to overcome. We brainstormed a range of implementable strategies for the City of Edmonton regarding the planning, design, maintenance, education, and policy surrounding winter cycling.”

Transportation Engineer Erin Toop says the most interesting part of the event was meeting people from all different backgrounds, each of whom had something unique to contribute.

“I had a man in my group who was part of the Revolution Cycle sponsor team, but who also happened to be a snow clearing and maintenance equipment operator for the City of Edmonton—a rare perspective. He had some really interesting things to say about how one of the issues around winter bike path maintenance is the training of maintenance staff on how to use various pieces of snow clearing equipment, and how there is a current challenge in attracting young people to the maintenance field to replace the retiring baby boomers.”

The message of this Winter City ShakeUp was clear: Get outside and play! To learn more visit: wintercitiesconference.com

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