Nearly 100% of Students at This Finnish School Arrive by Bicycle, Skis or Sled, Even in -22 Degrees

February 16, 2019 at 5:26 pm

Students in Finland offer a succinct lesson in commuting 

1100 out of 1200 students at a school in Finland commune by bicycle, between 100 and 150 walk, and the rest arrive by skis, kicksled or car.

”This day it was minus 17 degrees Celsius,” Pekka Tahkola, urban well-being engineer and cycling coordinator for the City of Oulu, wrote on Twitter on February 6.

Students at Metsokangas Comprehensive School, pictured above, range from 7 to 17 years old.

While it may be tough for American parents to imagine letting a kid bike to school in any weather, it’s the norm in much of Finland.

“It’s normal; always been like that,” Tahkola told Mother Nature Network.

”I cycled and kicksledded to school when I was a kid, too,” he says. “And it’s the same thing even in minus 30 C.” (That’s negative 22 Fahrenheit.)

Tahkola organizes winter cycling master classes as well as tours focused on smart mobility.

The reason cycling rates are so high in Oulu is because the city is set up for it, he says.

“You can usually just use your single-speed upright granny bike with summer tires all year long, even on snow. We have great infrastructure and winter maintenance, that make cycling fast, easy and comfortable even in winter conditions.”

Plus, the trek to school on the city’s well-maintained walking and biking paths is typically shorter than the route cars are restricted to.