Last night I attended an open house held by the City of Winnipeg's consulting partner in their efforts to add more bike/walk/rollerblade infrastructure. One of the fascinating dimensions of doing so that had never really crossed my mind was winter, and snow removal.
For example: If the city builds double wide sidewalks that can accommodate bike traffic, it requires an investment in specifically sized snow-clearing equipment and time to run that equipment—which makes budgets untenable.
Similarly, if the city wanted to demarcate bike lines with curbs, those reflective nodules bolted into the pavement, or anything similar - well, the first snowplow of the season is going to scrape them off - that's why the city has relied on paint to date.
On a positive note, creative minds are at work to devise solutions that fit both our sprawling tax base and the need to keep cyclists safe. The best idea I heard was to use rumble strips—make the strip as wide as the painted line on the street, and drivers suddenly have a great haptic reminder when they invade the bike lane. And, rumble strips won't get scraped off by snowplows, won't wash away like paint, don't interfere with cross-traffic (like curbs), and still allow for parking.
Winter bike commuting is an arduous process, but there are groups at work to make it safer and easier—though not any warmer!
Photo Credit: Kevin Connors