bike lane blocked

Toronto bike lanes are still blocked days after the blizzard and cyclists are not happy

Cleanup efforts continue after a historic blizzard dumped 55 centimetres of snow over Toronto on Monday morning.

Roads have been cleared, transit is back up and running, and icy trenches have been forged through snow-inundated sidewalks, but one means of transportation is still basically impossible a full four days after the snowfall let up.

Toronto's cyclist community is up in arms, as their infrastructure seems to have been largely ignored by city snow-clearance crews. In many cases, bike lanes are even becoming buried by plows as they dig out adjacent roads.

A few days after the snowfall and the procession of plows, continued extreme cold weather has turned snow-buried cycling paths into solid mountains of ice that pose a challenge for even the most robust snow-clearing equipment.

Ev Delen, who captured photos of the impassable Richmond bike lane on Friday morning — a full 96 hours after the blizzard hit — places the blame squarely on the policymakers at the top, telling blogTO, "we see the value of the mayor's words vs. actions in situations like this."

Delen suggests that the clearest path (no pun intended) to preventing these extended blockages in the future is through the ballot, saying that Tory's "actions consistently fail to live up to his words, and I hope people will remember that in October."

This isn't an isolated occurrence, either, with similar photos popping up showing blocked bike lanes across the city. In every example, the adjacent road is clear enough to see painted lines and arrows.

David Shellnutt, a personal injury lawyer and advocate for cycling safety rights, is surprised by the city's lack of action on snow clearance, especially in the wake of a recent Supreme Court of Canada ruling that affirmed municipal responsibilities including snow clearing.

Shellnutt tells blogTO, "It's surprising that the city hasn't got the memo, because they intervened to oppose the case in that Supreme Court case, fighting against the decision. So they're well aware of the liability implications, that in my opinion, only grow day by day as those bike lanes continue to be inaccessible."

Echoing a similar issue earlier in the week where plows were burying sidewalks in the name of clearing roads, concerns are being raised that the city — in contrast to its stated Vision Zero safety plan and green energy targets — is more concerned about maintaining infrastructure for cars than for pedestrians and cyclists.

Shellnutt says that he passed the Richmond bike lanes on both Wednesday and Thursday, noticing that "the roadway was pristine whereas the bike lane was impassible. A snow dumping ground."

"It glaringly shows the way that car traffic is prioritized in this city," he says.

Lead photo by

Ev Delen

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