37. Finnish Lessons

By March 4, 2020 Uncategorized

What can cold cities, where people nonetheless bike year-round through snow and seemingly endless hours of darkness, tell us about what it takes to make better streets? In this episode, Sarah reports back from her trip to Finland and the the 8th annual Winter Cycling Conference, held in Joensuu and Helsinki in early February. How does active transportation figure into Helsinki’s goal to become the world “most functional city”? What’s the right way to prioritize transportation modes? And why are most fully grown Americans less rugged than the average Finnish 11-year-old? 

You can find the full transcript of this episode here.

Support The War on Cars on Patreon.

Rate and review the war effort on iTunes.

Buy a War on Cars T-shirt at Cotton Bureau.


You can find all the presentations from the 2020 World Cycling Congress in Joensuu on the Congress website. Here’s a little movie that shows some of what it was like. See if you can spot Sarah! 

Coverage of the conference from Bicycle Dutch:

Cycling in the Finnish snow

Winter Cycling Congress 2020 in Joensuu

Coverage of the conference from The Guardian:

Winter wheelies: Finland blazes trail in keeping citizens cycling and healthy

Why Finland leads the field when it comes to winter cycling

Check out opportunities for winter adventure cycling in Eastern Finland with Karu Survival.

The end music for the episode, from the song “Cold Dead Eyes,” comes courtesy of Joensuu thrash metal band Killing Attack. You can find more of their music on Spotify.

Special thanks to Tony Desnick of Cycling Without Age, Oskari Kaupinmäki of the City of Helsinki, Matti Hirvonen of the Network of Finnish Cycling Municipalities, Timo Perälä of the Winter Cycling Federation, Markku Pyykkönen of the City of Joensuu, and Maria Halava-Napoles at the Finnish Consulate in New York.

This episode was edited by Ali Lemer and recorded by Josh Wilcox at the Brooklyn Podcasting Studio.

Our music is by Nathaniel Goodyear. Our logo is by Dani Finkel of Crucial D Designs.

Find us on Twitter: @TheWarOnCars, Aaron Naparstek @Naparstek, Doug Gordon @BrooklynSpoke, Sarah Goodyear @buttermilk1.

Email us: [email protected]





  • Anna says:

    I really enjoyed this episode, as always. I am one of the many bicyclists who avoid cycling in snow season here in British Columbia, because of the sketchy road conditions, but I’m super-impressed by the hardy folks who are out all winter here. With respect to the carbon offsets, perhaps people who have to fly a lot could contribute to the War on Cars or other cycling advocacy organizations? I’m a little skeptical about some of the big carbon-offset businesses. Thanks for all that you do!

  • Matt Young says:

    Yes! I think about this when I am biking in the snow and cold. Where are the tough Americans? How does driving a giant truck make you tough and yet someone riding their bike through the snow, ice and cold is considered a sissy somehow? The giant truck driver will go out and start their truck (or perhaps remotely) to get it warmed up (which is illegal where I live, but that doesn’t seem to deter anyone from “puffing”). I put on a bunch of clothes and prepare for war. I love your podcast! All these things that have been bouncing around in my head while I bike commute I find in your podcasts.