Biking community faces frosty obstacles

Toronto's icy bike lanes cause trouble for winter riders

Icy Toronto bike lane.
A Toronto bike lane blocked by ice and snow. Bryan Dollack/Twitter

The winter season has been harsh for the bike commuters of the city.

As temperatures drop and snow storms become the norm for February, Toronto’s cycling community has struggled with the state of the bike lanes.

The BikeTO community is struggling with their daily bike commutes, as their designated bike lanes are unsafe for riding on.

Large increments of ice have either blocked the lanes or have made the surface too slippery for riding.

Many cyclists have complained about the lack of support they are seeing from the city, as efforts to clear the lanes are lacking.

Some members of the biking community have taken it upon themselves to clear the roads the city of Toronto is responsible for.

The cyclers doing the work to clear the lanes were participating in the political event known as the “East End Bike Lane Digout”, run by the cycling group Ward 14 Bikes.

Michael Holloway, media manager for Ward 14 Bikes, says the event was held to get attention from the city.

“Ward 14 Bikes and the ward cycling advocacy group to the east of us, Ward 19’s 32 Spokes, organized the event to draw attention to the unacceptable winter maintenance service levels we’ve been, experiencing especially this year,” said Holloway.

“What happened this year almost happened last year — and the year before that — and the year before that. What was different this year was that the weather did not co-operate with this, and the last year, city council’s low budgeting for winter road maintenance.”
Cyclers are unimpressed with the city’s low efforts to provide riders with a clear path to ride on during the winter season, despite city council’s winter maintenance directives stating bike lanes be given priority status for winter clearing.
To add on to that, the winter season for Toronto this year was expected to have more snowfall this year, as the amount of snow the city had in early November was an indicator of what was to come, as well as these weather predictions from the Old Farmer’s Almanac report.

The safety of the bike commuters in the winter season has been the concern for the majority of the BikeTO community.

Bryan Dollack, a daily bike commuter who is vocal on social media regarding the state of bike lanes, has experienced the lack of care put into the safety of the bike lanes.

“It’s created unsafe conditions, and it has increased the amount of time I have to spend on my bike,” said Dollack about his commutes in February.

Dollack is not the only one struggling to commute through biking in the city, as the entirety of the #BikeTO group have voiced their displeasures on social media.

Despite the comments regarding the bike lanes, Toronto officials claim that the city is doing their best to keep the roads safe for all modes of transportation.

Eric Holmes, a media representative for the Transportation services of Toronto, said the safety of the roads was a top priority.

“Dundas Street, including the adjacent bike lanes, has been plowed and salted multiple times by City crews over multiple days in an effort to try and clear all of the snow and ice and make all parts of the roadway safe for all road users”.

But the experience that the bike riders completely negates the statements made, as the commutes have gotten worse as the temperatures drop and the snow accumulates.

Glendon Mellow, a cycler that commutes from downtown Toronto, has had to resort to alternative paths when it comes to travelling by bike, which has increased the risk of injury.

“The uncleared snow, which has now turned into big dirty ice piles, means I’m riding closer to cars while they crawl through the Harbord gridlock, or mixed into car traffic on Bloor because giant snowbanks block entry to the clear and salted bike lane,” Mellow said about his new commute route due to bike lanes being blocked by snow.

“The effect this has is mostly stress about my safety, and it slows me down getting to work and home in the evenings.”

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Posted: Feb 24 2019 12:11 pm
Filed under: News