Winnipeg is hosting the second International Winter Cycling Congress (IWCC) from Feb. 12-14.
The three-day congress will showcase winter cycling techniques, host numerous community, cultural, and educational events, and provide a forum for planners and policy makers to share ideas and inspiration around the subject of cycling during the winter.
The congress seeks to show that cycling during the winter is possible, and is a choice that many Winnipeggers are making.
Numerous speakers and participants from around the world, from Norway to the United States, will take part, covering topics from health to city planning.
Activities will occur throughout the week and into the weekend relating to cycling, including a restaurant tour and bike polo tournament.
Premier Greg Selinger will open the congress the morning of Feb. 12. Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz will open the panels and discussions on Feb. 13.
Winnipeg is unique in the cycling world in that it has a large number of community bike shops, where individuals can learn about bike repair and connect with their local cycling communities. These shops are often hubs of cycling activism, and serve as repositories of mechanical know-how for do-it-yourselfers.
Winnipeg cycling enthusiast Anders Swanson attended the first winter cycling congress in Finland last year and is responsible for bringing the event to this side of the Atlantic.
“A big part of this is to show that cycling during the winter is something that everyone can do. We’ve seen more people continue to cycle when the cold comes, and I think that’s a really encouraging sign,” said Swanson.
Friday will see a panel discussion at the U of M in conjunction with IWCC titled Cold Campus Cycling. Sarah Thiessen, a volunteer at the University of Winnipeg’s Bike Lab and member of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association Ice Riders student group, will share her thoughts about the vibrant cycling culture developing in Winnipeg, and the foundation this provides for community building and activism.
“I’m really proud of the state of activism on campus here, how ego-less and fun it is – how fun is a really big part of involving people in a cause. People won’t want to do something if it’s a drag. It’s a big part of why the Ice Riders group is so successful, we have fun,” Thiessen told the Manitoban.
Panelists from Finland; Madison, Wisconsin; and Chicago will join Thiessen to share experiences and insights from their cities.
The final day of the congress, Feb. 14, is also Winter Bike to Work Day. Winnipeg will be competing against numerous other cities around the world to see which will have the largest winter cycling turnout.
Participants can register for Winter Bike to Work Day at winterbiketoworkday.org