Ottawa

Winter cycling in Ottawa today? There's a map for that

If you're thinking of biking to work this winter, whether occasionally or every day, one of the first things you'll likely wonder is, are the bike pathways clear? Well, now there's a map for that.

'It's hard to know what's plowed. And when you're on a bike, that matters a lot,' cycling group president says

While most Canadians put their bikes away when cold weather hits, a growing number of winter riders have cities switching gears to accommodate the demand for clear pathways. In Ottawa, the cycling advocacy group Bike Ottawa has created a map to help let people know if pathways have been cleared. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

If you're thinking of biking to work this winter, whether occasionally or every day, one of the first things you'll likely wonder is, are the bike pathways clear?

Well, now there's a map for that.

The cycling advocacy group Bike Ottawa is now hosting a winter maintenance map on its website, which lets people know if pathways are clear or not.

"It's hard to know what's plowed. And when you're on a bike, that matters a lot," Bike Ottawa president Heather Shearer told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning.

The data is crowdsourced and can be updated by anyone, which means there's a chance the information won't always be completely accurate.

Here's what Bike Ottawa's map looks like. At 8:15 a.m. Thursday, the paths along the Rideau Canal appear to have been cleared. Blue lines mean the paths are clear, red lines mean not clear, and yellow lines mean the conditions are unknown. (Bike Ottawa)

"We're not giving a guarantee with this, that [it's] 100-per-cent correct, but it is the best available information," Shearer said. "We hope that just with time and people using it, it will be pretty accurate."

The conditions of pathways in winter are an annual gripe among cyclists, but Shearer isn't quick to judge the city's snow-clearing efforts.

"I know how hard it is to plow all the roads. We have a massive road network and pathway network and sidewalk network — thousands of kilometres. It's a big job. You're not going to get to everything right away," she said.

"So I always try to be patient, but yeah, we do want to see service eventually."

Bike Ottawa president Heather Shearer. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning

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