Toronto

'Get your sh** together,' says cyclist demanding better snow clearing in bike lanes

A Toronto cyclist says the city's snow clearing effort is failing cyclists and they are demanding better bike-lane maintenance.

Transportation Services says it is 'diligent,' but advises to call 3-1-1 if you spot snowy bike lane or street

'I've biked in winter for a few years, so I know it doesn't get better until the snow just melts away,' says Hunter Sanassian, who tries to ride safely by using hydraulic brakes and thicker tires. (Chris Glover/CBC)

A Toronto cyclist says the city's snow clearing effort is failing cyclists and is demanding better bike lane maintenance.

"I would say please get your sh** together.  I want to keep safe, I want to keep riding," said food delivery cyclist Hunter Sanassian when asked what message city staff need to hear.

"If it gets really, really dangerous, if I don't feel safe on the road, I will be on the pedestrian lane, which is just the only way to feel safe. I know I get reprimanded for that, but I'm not being given an option or a solution."

Several other cyclists complained to CBC Toronto about snowy bike lanes Tuesday, even though the snow storm happened over the weekend.

Paul Carter also had a white knuckle bike ride Tuesday morning.  

"I rode down Sherbourne and it was quite sketchy in some areas," he said. "I had to definitely slow down quite a lot and even then I almost lost my balance in a rut in the bike lane."

Despite the "sketchy" ride, in his eight years biking in Toronto, Carter has seen huge improvements when it comes to bike lane maintenance.

"On Saturday night I rode on Woodbine and the bike lane was better than the road. So that was nice," Carter said.

Transportation Services says it's 'diligent' with bike lanes

Transportation Services said bike lanes on main routes get the same priority as the street itself.

Arterial roads and streetcar routes should be cleared within eight hours after the snow stops falling. All other local routes, including bike lanes should be cleared within 16 hours, according to Transportation Services. 

However Mark Mills, the superintendent of road operations with Transportation Services, said when bike lanes are not separated with a physical barrier, vehicles end up pulling snow into the bike lanes for days after a storm.

"We do have to be diligent but we do realize that it does take sometimes between four and six hours to do a round of plowing and salting on those main roadways. So we do eventually cycle back and get them," said Mills.

Transportation Services says this weekend's storm was particularly challenging with frigid temperatures and blowing snow. Still if you see a street or bike lane that hasn't been cleared 16 hours after a storm, call 3-1-1. (Chris Glover/CBC)

Transportation Services said if you spot a bike lane, or any street, that is not cleared of snow this many hours after a major snowfall, call 3-1-1 and report it.

Mills said his team will investigate those problem areas within 24 hours.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said bike lanes are a priority and not just their maintenance. He said expanding the network is also important, adding that he anticipates some $44 million to be budgeted for bike lanes in 2019.

"At [next week's] meeting of city council we will make [Adelaide and Richmond bike lanes] permanent, which I think is an indication of our commitment to make sure that we not only build and maintain but that we confirm, on a permanent basis, the kind of bike lanes that are working."

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