Bikes Are Transportation and Bike Lanes Should Be Kept Clear All Year Round

St. George bike lane

Seriously, can we figure this one out? This is a matter about choices.

There is a famous tweet from planner Brent Toderian:

It is also true that you can't judge how many people would bike in winter if you don't make a bit of an effort to keep the bike lanes clear. My cycle route to Ryerson University campus is pretty much 100 percent on bike routes; on my ride today, I would estimate that it was about 80 percent impossible to ride in them. It makes it pretty unpleasant and unsafe.

Bloor Street Bike lane

Bloor Street bike lane/CC BY 2.0

The city clearly plowed the lane at some point; you can see the tread marks from the machinery in the snow.

Truck in bike lane

Truck in bike lane/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

This guy isn't even in the bike lane. He is in the buffer between the bike lane and traffic. In the summer, I would consider him a responsible driver, keeping out of the lane. Instead I had to get off my bike, lift it over the snow and go around him in the traffic lane, because the bike lane itself is full of snow.

lane at Honest Eds

Bike lane at Bathurst/ Lloyd Alter/CC BY 2.0

And I am not even going to try and go through here.

Davenport Road bike lane

Davenport Road bike lane/CC BY 2.0

Fundamentally, this is a matter of choice and priority. In this and in my top photo on the University of Toronto campus, the City has determined that the part of the street that cars use gets plowed by the city first, pushing the snow into where the cars usually park. Then the home and business owners shovel their sidewalks and add their snow to the pile. And since cheap parking seems to be a human right, everybody parks in the bike lane.

The bike lane should be a bike lane and not a parking lane, all year round. If the car parking lane is full of snow that should be their problem, not mine. Ticket them and tow them.