Letter to Adrian Heaps re Snow in Bike Lanes

It has been quite an ordeal biking to work this year. The extreme cold is a serious deterrent. Being outside in -20 windchill is painful for any exposed skin.

Another serious problem is that the bike lanes haven't been cleared of snow again this year. I have noticed this on College, St. George and Harbord. For a cyclist, there are two options for dealing with the snowy lanes:
  1. One could ride through the 1" - 2" of ice, snow and slush that is in most of the bike lanes. This is a laborious way to get around. The snow has the consistency of smooth peanut butter; it coats your wheels and greatly increases rolling resistance. The dirty snow on the tire generally flies off in all directions, doing it's best to create a mess of the bike and the rider's clothes.
  2. One could ride farther into traffic. This is great when there are no cars around, but an alarmingly high portion of the motorist population is hostile to having a bike come out into "their lane." Hostile drivers will often pass cyclists and leave very little margin for error (often less than a foot). This is dangerous behaviour, especially so in the winter when it's possible for a cyclist to hit a block of ice and travel that distance sideways with little notice.
The obvious solution to the problem is to keep the bike lanes cleared of snow. One of the committees at city hall said last year that a better job would be done keeping the bike lanes cleared. Of course, it's not happening. Because of this, I decided to send an email to the head of cycling affairs at city hall, Adrian Heaps:

Hello, Councillor Heaps,

Biking to work recently has not been very easy due to the large amount of snow in the bike lanes on Harbord, College, and St. George. I understood that more effort was going to be put into keeping these lanes cleared this year.

Would you please see what can be done about having the bike lanes around town cleared?

We'll have to see if the letter makes any difference. I haven't had any luck with these in the past.

The image of a snowy bike lane is from BikePortland.org.

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