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Winter Cycling in Toronto 4

Toronto Winter Cycling

This morning I set out for a pleasant bike ride along Lake Ontario in Toronto. I originally brought my dog with me, but her paws didn’t fare well with the salt that was plastered on the sidewalks here to melt the ice.

It also didn’t help that it was –15C (5F) (or –26C (-14.8F) with the wind chill).

One of the major accomplishments we have made in Toronto in 2009 is that our Waterfront trail is now being cleared of snow on a priority basis.

Sure enough, the trail was clear of the minimal snow we have seen so far this winter:

Toronto Winter Cycling

It almost looks as though there is still snow on the trail. But no, that would be the completely unnecessary amount of salt that the city dumps on our sidewalks and cycling paths. Here is a closer look:

Toronto Winter Cycling

This shot shows the salt lining the middle of the bike path:

Toronto Winter Cycling

The 2cm thick layer of salt feels grimy on the bike wheels, and unfortunately a lot of it gets washed into our lakes and rivers.

Salt isn’t the only object dumped on our bike trails. Shortly after commencing my journey I stumbled upon a pile of horse manure on the bike lane heading toward the waterfront path (presumably from one of our Toronto Police horses):

Toronto Winter Cycling

It’s not all “poop” though – we do get our own bike traffic signals along this path. These particular signals were installed in 2009, although other sections of our waterfront trail have had bike signals for several years now:

Toronto Winter Cycling

The waterfront trail is not only for recreational use. I have a friend and co-worker who regularly uses this bike path to commute downtown to work from the High Park area of Toronto.

For those of you who are afraid to brave the extremely cold days on a bicycle – I have to say that wearing ski goggles makes a significant difference – especially when snow is falling. I hadn’t considered using my snowboard goggles until I read it on a year-round cycling blog by Rantwick.

Here is a photo of me this morning – dressed very warm – on the Humber Bridge on the west side of Toronto (about 8KM from my home):

Toronto Winter Cycling

These modest improvements to the waterfront trail indicate the City is investing in sustainable transportation.

Recent posts on A View From the Cycle Path in the Netherlands, and Copenhagenize in Denmark indicate that those countries also ensure bike paths are cleared on a priority basis.

James D. Schwartz is the editor of The Urban Country. You can view all of James’ articles here.

All photos by James D. Schwartz / The Urban Country

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10532310427752019549 georgepechtol

    it’s so true. a minor investment in snow removal and road treatment on the city’s part can offer a huge benefit and open a lot of potential for traffic along this path. there is an alarming amount of east-west traffic along this path, and as i ride my bike along it when i commute by bicycle, i marvel at all of the single-occupant vehicles along lakeshore and the gardiner, and i cringe. even on a cold day, the physical and mental benefits of a ride into work as opposed to an irritating drive or subway commute into the city need to be felt in order to be understood. it fills me with pride to know that i am living in a city that, even in its own small way, is helping people to see that there are alternatives to fossil-fuel-powered transportation. keep up the good work, buddy!
    - g

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04454437680686627778 James D. Schwartz

    Thanks for showing those drivers that there is a better way to get to commute to work, while they sit in congested traffic!

  • Anonymous

    Here is something interesting about all that road salt. It is laced with ferrocyanide, when exposed to UV light and water it breaks down and reforms quickly into hydrogen cyanide, which can boil into a gas at 26C… You have probably heard of hydrogen cyanide?

    Lucky for us it doesn’t get that hot on the road but i hope you have fenders!

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