Anger grows as Toronto snow clearing leaves pedestrians and cyclists in the lurch
Plows are out in full force as Toronto cleans up the aftermath of a historic blizzard that hit the city hard on Monday, but anger is mounting as crews rush to clear roads, seemingly at the cost of sidewalks and cycling paths.
It's becoming easier for motorists to get around the city by the hour as road conditions improve and the cleanup effort reaches smaller sidestreets previously walled off by snow after the blizzard. But as roads clear up, pedestrians and cyclists still face struggles, and in many cases, road clearing is making matters much worse for those who don't drive.
Twitter has been aflame with reports of already-cleared sidewalks and bike lanes buried as plows clear adjacent roads. It's an issue that some prominent voices on social media chalk up to city policy, which allegedly places precedence on cars over people.
These are policy choices. Last eve on Dundas. Side had been cleared but overriding policy is to clear extra wide roads to curbs above all. So they are blocked again. This is not nature, it’s policy - and symptomatic of road design / enforcement in general https://t.co/bTsygGT22y pic.twitter.com/v0TP895nOK— Three Geese Radius (@shawnmicallef) January 19, 2022
For anyone requiring a mobility device or otherwise physically unable to scale these mountains of snow, the only option is to turn around and go home.
Good morning to everyone except the snow plow operator who decided to plow the snowbank all the way into the sidewalk along my street. pic.twitter.com/lCeT5xoYBi— John Michael McGrath (@jm_mcgrath) January 19, 2022
Many who are determined to get where they are going have been resorting to the only option city plows have left them, risking it all by walking into the street to navigate the towering snowbanks.
@CP24— JB (@Jaybal62) January 19, 2022
So this is what the City of Toronto sees as clearing the snow off the sidewalks; piling it from the street in front of the bus stop onto the sidewalk so deep that people can't trudge through it making it a necessity to walk out into the street to get bye. pic.twitter.com/HJka9Zhnk9
And if you're a parent who gets around on foot with a baby or infant, that stroller might not make it far, even a full 48 hours after the storm reached its peak.
Even just trying to push a stroller is brutal.— Josh Visser (@joshvisser) January 19, 2022
Even parents of older children are speaking out in anger, as crosswalks remain obstructed while kids return to school for the first time since the start of the new year.
Zero crosswalk access for kids to get to school today. Disgusting.— Kate Holland (@fyodor76) January 19, 2022
If you don't have kids in tow or require a mobility device, that still doesn't mean getting to your destination on foot is a realistic goal, with even the most physically fit likely to struggle against these icy obstacles.
This is low on the list of priorities but even people who can climb, are they expected to wear snowpants & high boots? Bring a towel & change of clothes? Or just live with wet feet and legs. To navigate the streets of a major metropolis you have to dress like you're tobogganing.— Ryan (@theZube) January 19, 2022
Tensions between urban cycling/pedestrian advocates and the car-dependent communities surrounding the city centre are nothing new. The former group has fought for safety and accessibility, and the latter camp has pushed back against growing inconveniences with cries of a "war on cars."
This outcry against cars allegedly being given priority is just the latest in this years-long back and forth.
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