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Don't see the appeal of biking in winter? Maybe you should try it

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Haddayr Copley-Woods
Haddayr Copley-Woods: In the middle of a noisy city, we enjoy a profound and soul-reviving quiet.
Courtesy Haddayr Copley-Woods

Haddayr Copley-Woods is communications director for a Minnesota nonprofit and a source in MPR News' Public Insight Network. 

To bicycle on the glorious bike paths of Minneapolis in the spring, summer and fall can be the highlight of my day.

But in winter, it is nothing short of blissfully transcendent.  I can't decide which is best: The crisp, clean air; the crackling sound of ice under tightly packed snow; the blue sky, framed by snow-covered branches. Or the fact that in winter, a handful of my fellow bicyclists and I have these stunning thruways entirely to ourselves. In the middle of a noisy city, we enjoy a profound and soul-reviving quiet.

Commuting by bicycle in winter, especially with studded tires and good gloves, should be an unmitigated joy.

But.

As much as I try to avoid riding on crowded motorways during an anxious and dangerous time, I still have to get to and from the Greenway. And deal with furious motorists in between — many of whom seem genuinely unaware of the rules of the road.

As a driver, I, too, can be frustrated or frightened when I encounter a bicyclist who breaks the law by ignoring traffic signs or riding without lights at night. But most bikers are doing their level best to stay safe and to share the road — and they often bear the brunt of motorists' rage.

For every bicyclist I've seen pull a hair-raising maneuver, I've seen even more motorists who are downright scary. They will ride angrily on our tails in the bike lane itself when traffic in the motor lanes is slow. I've had motorists physically threaten me with their multi-ton vehicles for riding my bicycle in a manner that is completely safe and legal.

I wish it didn't have to be so "us and them." I wish we could share the road calmly, without rancor. This is Minnesota! In the snow and ice, nobody is going to get anywhere fast. So let's slow down and take a deep breath.

I am not on the road to cause you trouble; my aim is to glory in the beauty of winter, the best way I know how. If you could give me some space, and maybe read up on the rules of the road, it would not only make me safer, but it could lower your blood pressure.

And maybe you could take a walk in my shoes for a bit. Consider taking your own bicycle out sometime this winter, to see how unspeakably delightful it really can be. I do enjoy how quiet bicycle paths can be in winter. But in exchange for a little more peace, love and understanding — I'd be more than willing to share.