Winnipeg city delays bike lane snow-clearing plan (again)
Cyclists may not see clearer pathways until 2019.
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It’s still a while before snow is expected to land in Winnipeg (knock on wood), but cyclists already think it’s going to be a tough slog getting around the city this winter.
A report on snow-clearing strategies for Winnipeg’s active transportation network was delayed a fourth time this week. It's not due until late this year – long after it could have helped cyclists this season.
“There will be snow on the ground, hardened, and by the time they have any kind of strategy, winter will be over,” said local cycling advocate Dave Elmore, who has called for improved maintenance in the past. “It’s very disappointing.”
In March 2016, council’s infrastructure and public works committee (IRPW) requested city staff work with stakeholders like the Winnipeg Trails Association, Bike Winnipeg, the Manitoban League of Persons with Disabilities and others to develop a winter maintenance plan.
The public service was expected to prepare that report by September 2016, but proceeded to ask for deadline extensions in November 2016, January 2017, and February 2017, before doing so again on Monday for 90 more days, pushing it back to early December.
The stakeholder consultation already took place though. Mark Cohoe of Bike Winnipeg said he submitted a set of bicycle-specific priority routes for snow-clearing last spring.
Under the current policy, active transportation pathways are cleared adjacent to roadways.
“It’s a system of snow-clearing (for bike lanes) based on the volume of cars driving on roadways… that doesn’t match up to levels of importance for other users,” Cohoe said, explaining key cycling routes are often left unplowed for days and even the routes that should be cleared quickly per the policy often aren’t.
Despite a council-approved active transportation strategy making year-round cycling viability a priority, Cohoe said “uncleared pathways” with frozen blocks of snow from the road, inches of jagged, carved up snow and ice “won’t encourage anybody to get out and bike.”
Metro asked the city specifically what delayed the report, and when changes coming out of it could feasibly be implemented if not this year, but received a response explaining only that the public service “continues to work on evaluating” the strategy, and will make recommendations to council later this year.
Cohoe said it was his understanding that Jim Berezowsky, manager of streets maintenance, was leading the project back when Bike Winnipeg was consulted.
But in May, Berezowsky began serving as acting director of public works after Lester Deane was removed from that position.