City representative Samuel Roberts attended Citizens for Safe Cycling's Advocacy Working Group (AWG) meeting to get feedback on the city’s proposed plan to improve winter maintenance for cycling. Currently, only the Laurier Bike Lane and pathways classified under the sidewalks act are cleared in winter (approximately 21 km).
If Council accepts recommendations in the updated Ottawa Cycling Plan (2013), the city will begin clearing an additional 19km of cycling routes, bringing the winter cycling network to total of 40km. You can view the map of the existing and proposed winter cycling network on the city's web-based mapping application, GeoOttawa (Click on 'More layers', tick off 'Cycling' ->tick off 'cycling plan' -> tick off 'Winter network' and you'll get this:
Ottawa's four season cycling network for winter 2015 if accepted
AWG members provided some feedback and questions on the plans. In particular, the AWG noted that adding small, low-/no-cost connections to the network could greatly increase the usability. If Council accepts the recommendations, additional winter maintenance would begin in 2015-16. The cost would be around $250,000 a fraction of the cost of Ottawa's annual road clearing budget of 90 million dollars.
Once passed, public works will have to set the levels of service, ie packed snow or bare pavement as well as a guarantee when the paths will be cleared.
The City is also suggesting positive changes for the Ottawa Walking Plan. The 2015 City of Ottawa budget will be tabled on February 4.
Public Works does communicate updates through various sources during winter events to keep residents informed. Firstly, regular updates are provided to the media including radio, television and newspaper and they regularly communicate storm updates. The status of winter operations are also provided through social media on both Facebook and Twitter (@ottawacity) and through the 311 call centre.
The graphic below provides an idea on timelines for when we are clearing specific areas. In terms of winter maintenance of cycling facilities, they are maintained at the same level as the adjacent roadway or sidewalk as is noted in the graphic.