Cycling Snow Routes: where can I ride?

bloor bike lane covered in snow

If the roads were covered with snow or ice, would you say it’s too dangerous to drive?

Of course you would, but we expect a certain level of service to ensure that we won’t be forced to drive in lanes that haven’t been cleared and salted. The same is true for bike lanes in many cities, and it is the vision of Toronto’s Cycling Snow Routes Network.

Cycle Toronto continues to advocate for higher standards for snow plowing, salting and snow removal on cycling snow routes, and we wanted to be sure you know how our members have helped us keep the pressure on the City to ensure we can bike safely all year round:

  • We fought for and won dedicated funding for Toronto’s Cycling Snow Routes Network in the amount of $650,000 per year

  • We took direct action with our Shovel-In on Shaw St event, where we shovelled the contraflow bike lane ourselves, resulting in the City providing a cleared network the next day

  • We pushed for and got the snow clearance schedule for the cycling network posted online and commitment from City staff to uphold it

Now you may be thinking: “Wait, I’ve seen snow in the bike lane, wasn’t that was supposed to be cleared by now?” The answer is yes, we’ve seen it too. But, you can join us in calling this out. If you see snow in a bike lane in the winter network that hasn’t been cleared per the schedule, you should take a photo and email it to 3-1-1, asking for it to be sent to the work zone supervisor. You can also tweet the photo @311 with the location and tag us @CycleToronto. This also applies to the bike lanes across the city, but per the clearance schedule, they will take more time to get to.

The Cycling Snow Routes Network is a good start, but coverage is limited to the downtown core and lacks many north-south connections that can be relied on to be clear. Popular east-west routes like College St. and Dundas St. E. aren’t being cleared. Painted bike lanes next to parking like Beverley St. / St George St. have limited efficacy since people are driving in and out of them, trudging plowed snow back into them along the way. While the separated cycle tracks and trails have been relatively clear, few people can commute on cycle tracks and trails alone.

We know we need a network of high-quality cycling infrastructure across the city, all year round. And we’ll continue to lead the charge to make that happen!

Whether it’s through playful, direct actions like our Shovel-in on Shaw or liaising with City Staff to expand the Cycling Snow Routes Network that the shovel-in helped precipitate, our members are crucial in our push for change. We believe a cycling-friendly city is one in which people can bike confidently year-round, without having to change their routes or navigate poorly maintained streets

Not yet a member? Your voice will help us continue to advocate for better biking conditions - and that includes a well-maintained winter network. Join our movement to make this vision a reality.