The City of Winnipeg will explore options to prioritize spring cleanup on active transportation routes over clearing the same sand and grit off roads.
On Monday, council’s public works committee ordered a staff report to determine what it would take to make the seasonal cleanup on multi-use pathways, protected bike lanes and sidewalks the higher priority of the two.
“This would mean some of the streets not getting done as fast but prioritizing the active transportation network… because it’s much more hazardous if you wipe out on gravel on a bike or (while) walking or on a mobility device than it is in a vehicle,” said Coun. Janice Lukes, committee chairwoman.
Since Winnipeg tends to have lengthy, snowy winters that require crews to repeatedly spread sand to improve traction, a cycling advocate said the debris left behind once the snow melts has triggered concerns.
“I hear lots of complaints about it. I imagine that the councillors hear lots of complaints (too). People are definitely having issues out there… The gravel, especially on turns, can really take you down,” said Mark Cohoe, executive director of Bike Winnipeg.
“At some point, I’ve definitely had the tire come out from under me.”
Cohoe said he believes quicker spring cleanup on active transportation routes would support the city’s goals to encourage more people to walk and ride bikes.
“It improves safety, it improves comfort, but it also makes you feel a little bit more valid in choosing (a transportation option) that isn’t just an afterthought.”
Cohoe said his group has previously asked for the change.
Jim Berezowsky, Winnipeg public works director, said the sanding of sidewalks has increased considerably in recent years, a service that was traditionally restricted to freezing rain events in the past.
Berezowsky said far more traction material is added now, following demands from citizens and councillors to address slick winter conditions, which may be difficult to remove from the narrow paths.
“A lot of the challenges that I see (are linked to) the amount of material being applied… Our policy doesn’t state (that we should do) continuous sanding of the sidewalks.”
He said sweeping sand off residential sidewalks was also not part of traditional spring cleanup.
The report is expected back in about six months.
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.