Snow and bike lanes

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I finally got out for a longer ride (considering my riding lately has been very sporadic) this last Monday afternoon. It was clear, sunny and warm – great weather. I travelled from North Glenmore down to the college located on KLO road and then back through town so got a good look at a number of bike routes.

Generally speaking there appears to have been no attempt to clear bike lanes of snow and ice. Most roads have some areas where either traffic (mainly the inside of curves) or the sun have cleared off parts or all of the bike lane. Gordon for example was a mixed bag, with the bike lane totally covered in ice in some areas and almost clear (except for gravel and road debris) in other areas. Spall was in similar condition. (Note the above photo taken near the front of Princess Auto looking towards Hwy 97).

Some side streets were totally covered in ice and packed snow – Richmond being notable because it provides a good route from Bernard Ave. to Mountain Ave. (up Cerise).

I took a vehicle lane in a number of places and must admit that nearby motorists were polite and well behaved.

Two observations:

– putting bike lanes immediately between roads and sidewalks is terrible for snow clearing. If the sidewalk is cleared the snow ends up in the bike lane and the same thing happens when the road is cleared. If the bike lane is cleared the snow is plowed onto the sidewalk.

– allowing vehicle parking immediately to the right of a bike lane (such as on Richter near Birch) forces attentive cyclists out onto the roadway as the width of an open car door takes up the majority of the bike lane. Having had motorists unexpectedly open car doors into my lane of travel once or twice in the past, I stay well clear of parked vehicles.

The snow clearing issue is interesting as it has been used by City engineering to argue against off road cycling paths. The gist of their argument is that off road cycling lanes are very difficult to clear of snow and it is much easier to clear those that are along a road. Considering that most of the cycling lanes in town are not cleared of snow or other debris (the exception being road sweeping in the late spring) I have some difficulty in accepting this argument.

If you are concerned about having a bike lane cleared of snow and ice contact “Eagle Eye” on the main City of Kelowna webpage (near the bottom). Be prepared to follow this up as it often takes a few complaints to get something done. If you want an answer then be very firm in telling them that you require a response – they do not normally provide feedback regarding complaints.

John.

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