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Cycling News & Race Results

Winter Cycling Congress 2020

The International Winter Cycling Congress
2020 took place in Joensuu in Finland. The capital of North Karelia in the east
of Finland close to the Russian border… is a university city with over
76,000 inhabitants. Where even in the snow
people cycled a lot. It was very clear that the
infrastructure in Joensuu… was also designed with
people on bicycles in mind. The roundabouts looked
very familiar and there is good signage. Invisible to everyone, under all that
snow, the asphalt is also red. Thanks to these pictures of one of
the delegates I can show you that. One day before the conference started… there was a meeting
in Helsinki. There was no snow in the Finnish
capital, which is unusual. After some presentations,
the delegates got a nice tour, led by the project manager
for bicycle traffic. Later, Helsinki proudly presented
that there had been zero road deaths for people walking and cycling,
in 2019. This must in part be thanks
to the good separation between cycling and motor traffic. Although that separation was
minimal at some locations. Helsinki was inspired by the Netherlands
when a bicycle parking garage under the metro station Kalasatama
(Fiskhamnen) was built. Unfortunately the people have
not discovered this facility yet. It has double stacked tracks and it may take a while before this facility
is filled up to capacity. From the beautiful
Helsinki Central Station… (which also has a cycle way in front of it) the delegates then traveled together
in the train to Joensuu for 4.5 hours. Dear passengers, this is an intercity
train to Joensuu. Have a pleasant journey! Joensuu was covered in
a blanket of snow. Although even there, the temperatures had been mild
for the time of the year. Even so, the following morning the
opening session took place outside at a school at minus 13 degrees! School children were taught how to cycle
in different snow conditions and they played a game on the bicycle. Teaching them what a beautiful
versatile machine it is. Of course the delegates also got
to give these things a try. Oh and it’s right there.
First point for the red team. The Finns are proud that
they cycle all winter. Many presentations were given
and there were lively discussions. “A win-win-win situation,
a good example.” I was also honored to be
on the main stage. So people will still need to
go to work, like I said: it is more hassle to think
of an alternative, and they will just do
as they always do… The conference didn’t
only stay indoors. There were many guided tours
such as this one in the city centre, during which it was
minus 11 degrees! Joensuu has a pedestrianised center. So we made a big decision:
build a pedestrian street. Right in the middle of the city. There is also -almost invisible in winter-
a cycle street. Joensuu is expanding and
improving the city’s cycling network This bridge was built in 2014. It was great to see the parking near the university, being used in these winter
conditions. The next winter cycling conference
will be held in Belgium in Hasselt. It is very unlikely that there will be
as much snow as in beautiful Joensuu.

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