Two days after this week's light snowfall, the city's bike lanes are still covered in ice.
By Ryan McGreal
Published November 19, 2014
this article has been updated
The snow that fell on Hamilton from Sunday, November 16 through Monday, November 17 didn't stick around on city streets. Between getting squashed by tires and melting from road salt, the driving lanes were already clear by Monday in late afternoon. The city's bike lanes were another story.
Snow and tire tracks on the Hunter Street bike lanes, November 17, 2014
Note the tire tracks: it turns out that people do ride bikes in winter - even in snow. On Monday, I snapped this shot of several bikes parked on James Street South at Jackson Street, in front of the YMCA.
Bikes parked on James Street South and Jackson, November 17, 2014
On Tuesday morning, the driving lanes were still clear - and the bike lanes were still covered. However, by this time the snow had frozen into treacherous ice, the tire tracks frozen in place.
Cyclist Ryan Janssen sent this photo to RTH after falling off his bike into oncoming traffic. Fortunately, he was not seriously hurt.
Hunter Street bike lanes covered in ice, November 18, 2014 (Image Credit: Ryan Janssen)
By late afternoon on Tuesday, the eastbound bike lane on Hunter between Park and MacNab was still covered in ice, rendering Hunter impassable for eastbound bike traffic.
Hunter bike lanes looking west from MacNab, November 18, 2014
Hunter was already less-than-useful for eastbound cyclists, given that the bike lane ends abruptly at MacNab, but at least cyclists could turn left onto MacNab and continue east on Jackson. Good luck with the bike lane ending at Park.
Of course, the situation was no better for westbound cyclists. Past Park, both bike lanes on Hunter were still covered in ice.
Hunter bike lanes looking west from Park, November 18, 2014
On Wednesday, with fresh flurries falling, there is less ice on Hunter but it still isn't clear.
Other cycling infrastructure isn't doing much better. On Tuesday, November 18, cyclist Dave Kuruc took this photo of the protected multi-purpose track on King Street West crossing Highway 403:
Ice-covered protected multi-purpose track on King Street West, November 18, 2014 (Image Credit: Dave Kuruc)
As of Wednesday morning, according to this photo by cyclist Martin Zarate, the track was still covered in ice.
Ice-covered protected multi-purpose track on King Street West, November 19, 2014 (Image Credit: Martin Zarate)
This seems to be related to the fact that it is used by both pedestrians and cyclists. So far, we're not aware of any other bike lanes that have been cleared.
Of course, last winter the City did not maintain its cycling network. From the first heavy snowfall to the spring melt, the city's bike lanes served as a dumping ground for snow removed from the driving lanes.
Dundurn Street South bike lanes covered in snow windrows, December 2013 (RTH file photo)
This is despite the fact that there was apparently a bike lane winter maintenance pilot project underway.
RTH was never able to get a response from the City on what streets were included in the pilot project and what, if anything, was done.
According to Kelly Anderson, communications manager for the Public Works Department, the City does not deploy snow plows for light snowfalls like this week's. Instead, they apply de-icing material - salt and/or sand.
In the case of bike lanes, sand is not practical to use since it creates a mess for cyclists.
Anderson advised that City workers did apply salt to the Hunter street bike lanes. However, "due to the extreme cold temperatures and the limited activity in that lane, the salt didn't activate very well."
Staff have since been re-deployed to Hunter Street and other areas to "provide additional service ... as part of their usual winter maintenance re-inspection protocols".
In addition, the City is "currently reviewing other ways to maintain bike lanes during the winter season when plows are not deployed and salt may not work effectively due to the conditions."
Yesterday late afternoon, the Hunter Street bike lanes showed clear evidence of having been salted again. The hill between MacNab and Park was finally more or less clear and ice-free.
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking west from MacNab
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking west from Park
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking east from Bay
The westbound lane is reasonably clear, while the eastbound lane is partially covered. The lanes were still a bit icy, though, so an application of salt would also help.
East of Park Street, the bike lanes were cleared around the knockdown bollards for a fairly smooth ride down the hill to MacNab.
Hunter Street bike lanes, looking east from Park
According to John Popham, the multi-purpose track on King Street West across Highway 403 was also plowed this morning.
King Street multi-use track plowed, November 20,2014 (Image Credit: John Popham)
This was nice to see: I was afraid the City would not be able/willing to clear the snow inside the bollards. Kudos to the City for clearing the bike lanes at the same time as the automobile lanes.