FAQ: What happens in the winter?

What happens to cycling facilities and the Brock Trail in the winter is a really good question!

Currently, the City has a priority/triage approach that relegates sidewalks and the Trail to a low priority. Generally, they’re cleared once work crews are available after higher priority corridors are addressed.

For cycling facilities, winter treatment will depend on the facility type and level of usage. Unprotected bike lanes along the side of a street would be cleared by existing snow clearing operations, although many streets are narrowed by snow windrows after big storms due to lack of anywhere to put the snow!

For protected bike lanes, best practices are still being researched.  Some cities, like Toronto, Hamilton and Montreal, where a protected bike lane is a heavily used transportation route, bollards are left in and the lane is cleared. Some cities, like Hawkesbury, remove the bollards for the winter and plow the bike lanes with the street.  Others, like Thunder Bay, where relatively new protected bike lanes have not yet become major wintertime routes, the lanes are declared “seasonal, not maintained in winter.  See the infographic below for Calgary’s advice for snow clearing in retail areas with protected bike lanes.

SNIC postcard

Research shows a diversity of practices, as seen in this comprehensive article.

The expectation for the Laurier protected bike lane is that it’ll be declared “non-maintained” from the first snowfall until Spring, until such time as winter demand grows and clearing is warranted. Whether the flexi-bollards remain in or are removed for the winter remains to be decided.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.