Walking (and Biking) in a Winter Wonderland

Photo Credit: Joop van Dijk via Flickr

It’s 2018 and winter is back with a vengeance. As the cold seems to have settled in for the long winter haul, many people have begun their yearly hibernation routines. But as those who love winter will tell you, the drop in temperature doesn’t mean you have to stay inside. Getting outside and staying active throughout the winter is important for mental, physical and environmental health. Whether you’re a diehard biker or just looking to make the most of your winter, consider participating in some of these fun events happening locally, nationally and internationally in the new year.

2018 Winter Events

January 25th - February 10 - Saint Paul Winter Carnival

February 4, 2018 - Super Bowl LII

  • Whether you love it or hate it, the Super Bowl is coming to the Twin Cities in just a few weeks. Along with the game comes a 10 day lineup of free outdoor events. Not looking forward to the increase in traffic? This is a great opportunity to try walking, biking or taking the bus to work.

February 7 - Winter Walk (and Bike) to School Day 2018

  • Kids across the US and Canada will bundle up and walk to school in early February as part of Winter Wellness Week. To join an event near you, or to start one at your school, visit your local Safe Routes to School webpage or check out some of these resources: MinnesotaMassachusettsEast Central WisconsinCanada

February 9 - International Winter Bike to Work Day

Still not convinced? Try our tips for staying safe, warm and active this holiday season. 

Tips for walking and biking in the winter:

  • Be prepared - In Minnesota, it feels like winter weather can change from 40 to -40 overnight. Keeping a weather app on your phone or computer can help you plan ahead. By making the decision the night before and mentally preparing for the trip, you’re more likely to commit to the active winter commute.
  • Be seen - With winter comes shorter days, and fewer hours of sunlight. This means that many people will be traveling to school or work in the dark. Adding reflective material to your winter clothing and flashing lights to your backpack or bike can go a long way to keep you safe when walking or biking. In fact, it is illegal in many cities to ride a bike any time of year without proper lights.
  • Be warm - It goes without saying that warm winter gear is a must if you live in a place like Minnesota, but not all gear is made the same. Investing in wind resistant and cold weather rated coats, hats and glove can make all the difference. Did you recently upgrade your winter weather gear? Consider making a donation to local schools and charities to help others stay warm this winter.
  • Be flexible - Some commutes are too long and some days are just too cold to walk or bike to your destination. Listen to health advisories about dangerous conditions and make other plans when necessary. If your commute is too long for walking or biking during the winter, try a partial commute. Building an extra two blocks of walking into your commute can add up to over 100,000 steps over the course of the winter. Still not sure about winter biking? Try biking part of the way and taking public transportation the remainder of the trip. You will reduce your carbon footprint and add exercise to your daily routine.
  • Be proactive - Heavy snowfall can take a toll on the accessibility of walking and biking infrastructure. Sidewalks and bike lanes often take more time to clear as they require smaller snow plows or hand held snow removal. Make sure you and your neighbors are doing your part to keep access clear and contact the city if you notice part of your commute that is frequently neglected.