Ode to a bare sidewalk

Friday saw me wandering about a fair bit of the City. The Centrepointe MUP (ped/cyclist path) is plowed in the winter, and there was the imprint of one cyclist. Mind, it was snowing hard at midday, so the evidence of previous cyclists (if any such hardy souls…) was quickly erased.

Later in the afternoon, another cycle track, this time on the Albert Street MUP running along LeBreton Flats:

But the most interesting stroll took me past the Laurier Separated Bike Lane. Now the City did promise to keep it plowed all winter, and boy, do they ever live up to their word on that one! It was the barest pavement in all the downtown. At 3 o’clock there was a cyclist visible every block or so, but most users were peds fed up with the mushy sidewalks.

Laurier SSL - segregated stroller lane, aka the Mommy Track

So if the City can keep the Laurier SBL bare, why not the main sidewalks downtown and along traditional mainstreets? We would certainly see a dramatic uptick in modal shift if pedestrians were encouraged.

8 thoughts on “Ode to a bare sidewalk

  1. I was not surprised that the bicycle lanes were so clear – this council puts its green priorities above all others. I drove from Kanata east to near the General Hospital, using the Queensway one way and Baseline back, and did not see one snow plough anywhere. Sidewalks were a mess, and I understand why peds used the bike lanes. Friday, with the massive snow fall, I again made the same trek, and only saw a couple of ploughs. Sidewalks were still a mess. Both days the travel was around 11:30 am and 2:30 pm.

  2. Eric,

    The answer is staring you in the face: the Laurier SBL very much looks like it was cleared by one of those ubiquitous pickup truck plows, whereas the sidewalks are plowed by sidewalk plows, which seem to be always in short supply. Moreover, I would take a guess that it takes a lot less time to clear the SBL of snow with a pickup truck plow than it does to clear an equal length of sidewalk with a sidewalk plow because the SBL is a fairly clear run.

    To get the same kind of results with sidewalks, the City is either going to have to operate a much larger number of sidewalk plows, or they’re going to have to redesign all their sidewalks (most notably in the provision of various artifacts) to allow for faster and easier plowing, possibly by pickup truck plows.

  3. Easy to answer: Less bikes in the winter, faster to plow. Sidewalks are still cluttered in the winter with people walking about, milling around waiting at a bus stop, etc.. making sidewalk clearing difficult.

  4. I work downtown, the bike lanes appear to be kept clear by a various assortment of sidewalk plows. The most common one that I’ve seen (possibly the same one over and over again) is a plow with tank trades towing a trailer of what is probably salt.

    The bike lanes are not wide enough in most places to accommodate a regular sized truck.

    It’s also much quicker to run a plow down the bike lanes than either the streets or the sidewalk – too many obstacles in both (cars, pedestrians, signposts, planters, mailboxes, bus shelters, etc) so it’s much slower to clear the streets and sidewalks.

  5. No, the SBL was plowed by a sidewalk type plow though it looked a bit different. It tows a big sand hopper. Several times a sidewalk plow drove ahead of the SBL plow…as the sidewalk plow pushed snow into the SBL the SBL plow would then remove it. They certainly were working in tandem at some points though I did see the SBL plows on their own. Apparently this was cause for much laughter at CFRA where all the truck driving valley dwellers were complaining, “how can the city plow them there bike lanes” while their county road went unplowed.

  6. You think the MUP or Laurier sidewalk has an excess of snow? Check the East side sidewalk of Grant Carman Drive – the sidewalk there has a foot or so of packed snow….

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