Mass Media Portrayals of the Winter Commuter


Photo via Flickr User; sjgardiner


Every year when the mercury begins to drop the mainstream media thaws out a few winter cyclists and puts them on display for the general public.  This year has been an above average winter in terms of snow fall and cold, so here we sit February 2nd and already four stories in the mainstream press about winter commuters!

Let’s take a look at what they are saying;

Star Tribune – first across the finish line.  This article was published in the Lifestyle section on January 19th and like most media efforts, included the word ‘crazy’ in the article.  Other than that we found it to be well written and actually addressed some of the concerns of winter bikers;

“Snowbanks have forced parked cars farther out into the street, and that, in turn, has forced bikers into traffic lanes. Their presence makes some drivers nervous, the bikers acknowledge. But bikers are just as nervous about cars with snow-covered or frosted windows.”

Kare 11 – proving TV producers know how to read the newspaper. Hot on the heels of the Star Tribune article (two days later), Kare 11 trotted out their Minnesoteiest reporter to film some bikers riding through Downtown Minneapolis from the comfort of their news van.  While the two cyclists were portrayed as regular folks, the story did have an overall tone of ‘okay then your crazy bike riders, hehehe’;

“Cyclist says – ‘It’s kind of fun and rewarding’… cut to smiling Minnesota reporter “Fun and rewarding aren’t the words that I would use”

Mind of the winter cyclist – good article from an unlikely source. We covered this last week but we still can’t quite figure out how such a good article written from the perspective of a winter cyclist came from such a previously anti-bike person, Joe Soucheray.  Check back to our post and vote in the poll, see if you can help us figure it out;

“He rode because he wanted to, because, despite what it must look like to a motorist, he felt unencumbered by convention. He was free of the obvious burdens, fuel costs, insurance, parking problems, trips to the body shop, frosted windows. But it was more than that. It gave him a claim on some deep primal ruggedness, in a world where that was increasingly tough to come by………. He rode for another reason. It made him hate winter less.”

Downtown Journal – very good article. Here is our most recent entrant into the field and in our opinion the best.  This article sticks to the facts and simply reports the riders experiences, that’s all.  In addition they have posted a fantastic collection of photographs that are well worth your time to check out;

“A quick walking tour revealed a Hennepin Avenue that was mushy but manageable. The green stripe bike lanes were clear of snow but camouflaged beneath gray muck. The 1st Avenue bike lanes, each sandwiched between the curb and an inner parking lane, were completely out of commission, buried in 3-inch deep snow and mini boulders of ice. Prime bus arteries Marquette and 2nd Avenues appeared well cleared, with some stretches, like the 800 block of Marquette, squeaky clean from curb to curb.”


While we are sure that a few more stories might squeak out, we found the Downtown Journal article to be the best, not for what they asked but for what they didn’t.  This was the only article of all four that didn’t ask the cyclists to defend or describe why they would want to ride through the winter.  This above all else seems to be a central pre-occupation within most of the stories, why do they continue to ride?  Don’t they know it’s cold outside?

Even Joe Soucheray’s article, while enjoyable, had the cyclist describe to himself why he chooses to ride a bike through the winter.  If you really think about it the mere question seems absurd.

We are hoping that someday a news reporter will go around asking car drivers during spring, summer, and fall, “why do you drive your car when the weather is so beautiful outside”?

This entry was posted in Advocacy, Bike Lanes, Profile, Salute to the Winter Commuter, Twin Cities Cyclist and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Mass Media Portrayals of the Winter Commuter

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