Winter cyclist's documentary 'Bicicles' encourages others to ride

Kim Kelln, the Calgary writer and director behind the documentary Bicicles, wants to show people how normal it is to bike to work in the winter.

Director Kim Kelln wants to normalize this way of commuting

Kim Kelln is an avid winter cyclist and the writer and director behind a new documentary about winter cycling in Calgary. (Cailynn Klingbeil/CBC)

Kim Kelln, a Calgary cycling enthusiast, wants to show people how normal it is to bike to work in the winter. 

Kelln spoke to the Calgary Eyeopener Thursday about his film Bicicles, which he wrote and directed. The documentary celebrating Calgary's winter bicycle commuters premieres Feb. 11 at the Globe Cinema.

Rather than portray the four riders featured as "brave" souls, Kelln's film highlights the ordinary and everyday side of winter cycling. He hopes the project will encourage more people to continue riding year round.

Below is an edited version of Kelln's conversation with Calgary Eyeopener host David Gray.  

Q: What do you love about cycling in the cold?

A: You're on your bike, you get out there, you're not stuck in traffic, you feel really good when you get to the office.

Q: Why did you want to make a film about biking in the winter?

A: I've been an all-year cyclist for 13 years, maybe not full-time early on, but certainly over the last several years. It seemed like a really, really good topic to get people out, to introduce cycling to people that don't [and] people that stop cycling in October.

They hang up the bike, they say it's too cold, it's too snowy, it's whatever. This is a way to introduce people to what it's like to cycle in the wintertime.

Kim Kelln's documentary features four cyclists who represent different styles of riding. (Cailynn Klingbeil/CBC)

Q: What are the stories you captured in the film?

A: Our four cyclists represent different styles of riding, different styles of commuting. One couple rides their children to school, so that was interesting.

Essentially, it's the same old story. You get up in the morning, you have breakfast, you get the kids ready, you put on your clothes, you go outside, but instead of hopping in the car, you get on your bike and you ride to work.

Q: You hear the reasons people don't choose to do that, from sweaty cycling gear at the office to icy conditions outside you could wipe out on. What do you say to people who worry about these fairly common things?

A: We don't actually have a lot of days in Calgary in the wintertime where it's this snowy, or even this cold. Most of the winter is not like this.

You just put on more layers — just like if you're going out to ride the C-Train or bus, you put on more clothes to stand at the bus stop. It's the same with riding your bike. It's pretty easy, really.

Q: Is there a political statement wrapped up in this? What are you trying to tell people?

A: Just like cycling infrastructure, the message is not geared at people that already cycle, although this is a feel good message for them. This is really targeted at people that want to get out and cycle in the wintertime that don't.

Part of the political side of it is better infrastructure will always help. The cleared cycle tracks downtown are fantastic, and the pathway system along the Bow River is absolutely fantastic.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener