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Poll results: Should winter cycling be banned?

“Perhaps you and your bike will provide improved traction for me at the intersection,” Grey Joseph Howler speculated
Cyclists still find themselves out and about, despite the cold weather. Photo by Mike Trahan.

With winter seemingly winding down, more cyclists are coming back to the streets to join the growing few who’ve braved the slippery season. However, in a poll held to the public earlier this month, asking the community if winter cycling should be banned from city streets or not.

This was in response to a winter cycling story published where comments became quite divisive over the controversial issue.

According to the poll, which garnered 1502 votes from the community, 71.7 percent (1077) voted that slushy roads and snow banks make it too dangerous for both cyclists and motorists, while 24.83 percent (373) voted that cyclists have the same right as everyone else to travel the roads.

“I ride in the winter... deal with it... and make room for me,” commenter Paul Stewart wrote.

“You are on a death wish do not involve me,” Joe Rivier replied.

“Perhaps you and your bike will provide improved traction for me at the intersection,” Grey Joseph Howler speculated.

“I bike all year and feel as long as we are safe and obey the traffic law's there should be no problem with people biking all year around,” Jeremy Rumble wrote. “Just because others are in a rush and don't want to share the road with us is no reason to ban biking in the winter.”

Many comments called for the ban of cyclists in the winter bring up the safety of the streets and how it is difficult if not impossible for vehicles to pass on the narrow streets when snowbanks build.

"Bikes are a mode of transportation in the summer, if you choose to endanger yourself by engaging in this dangerous practice then you should be insured to cover my vehicle when you slide out and hit me. As far as I'm concerned, Mother Nature took your 1 meter buffer Zone with snow banks and the rest is mine. Good luck and be safe out there," wrote Dan Guenette.

However, according to the laws from the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), cyclists are considered vehicles of the road, and motorists must give a meter of space when passing.

“A motorist may, if done safely, and in compliance with the rules of the road, cross the centre line of a roadway in order to pass a cyclist,” it reads on their frequently asked questions. “If this cannot be done, he or she must wait behind the cyclist until it is safe to pass.”

Tanya Vrebosch, Chair of Engineering and Works at the City, said they were working with cycling activists to create a cycling infrastructure plan.

“Ontario is providing $325,000 to North Bay and $71,741 to Callander over the next two years to help build new, or improve existing, cycling infrastructure through the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program,” she said. “North Bay will build 1.9 km of mostly off-road or in-boulevard cycling facilities, which will help close the gap between the northern and southern sections of Kate Pace Way and establish continuous trail system. These improvements will allow people to cycle across town with limited interaction with motor vehicles.”

However, there seemed to be no indication on supporting or developing all-year-round cycling initiatives, leaving motorists and cyclists to deal wit the current situation due to road conditions, paired with MTO regulations.  

See also: Bikemunk

Ryen Veldhuis

About the Author: Ryen Veldhuis

Writer. Photographer. Adventurer. An avid cyclist, you can probably spot him pedaling away around town.
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