Councillor’s tweet about bike lanes stirs controversy about snow clearing priorities

An online post by a Winnipeg city councillor has some pedestrians and cyclists at odds.

North Kildonan City Councillor Jeff Browaty was out in The Exchange District after this week’s big snowfall and took issue with the way the snow was cleared in the area.

He posted a tweet showing a snow-covered sidewalk on King Street and a clear bike lane on nearby Bannatyne Avenue, with the caption ‘Typical sidewalk vs typical bike lane, today.”

Browaty said commuter cycling isn’t practical or mainstream and argues more people need to walk to the bus or get to the store.

He’s frustrated seeing bike lanes cleared before sidewalks.

“You can’t do everything on day one. It takes like a period of time to get work done. I would rather see sidewalks on Henderson Highway done, sidewalks in The Exchange done, prior to the bike lanes,” Browaty said.

Cyclist Sasha Schellenberg said sidewalks should be prioritized to a degree, but it’s also crucial to clear bike lanes of snow.

“All active transportation in Winnipeg we have huge issue with. It’s just not being cleared in a timely fashion. It takes so long for sidewalks and bikes both to get to cleared so to make that comparison is ridiculous,” he said.

The city said King Street with the snowy sidewalk is priority one and Bannatyne Avenue is priority two, but sometimes the crews’ sequence is slightly off, and they do follow guidelines set out by city council.

The section of the sidewalk Browaty photographed has now been cleared, which will help people like Mike Ginter.

He has a broken foot and has been using crutches through the snow.

Ginter agrees with Browaty — that sidewalks should be cleared first.

“It’s really disappointing, not a lot of people ride a bike in when it’s this kind weather, in deep snow. There are a handful that do. I believe they should be done absolutely last,” said Ginter.

Browaty said there’s a review about snow clearing priorities underway and he’s going to make his opinions known.

The City of Winnipeg said there are about 400 kilometres of bike path and 3,000 kilometres of sidewalk in Winnipeg.

Sidewalks on main routes are cleared first, followed by sidewalks on bus routes and collector streets, then residential streets.

The city says generally bike paths get the same priority as the street where they are located.

The Exchange District Biz also has a crew to help out in the area.

After a snowfall, it sends out a bobcat to help clear a path for pedestrians and push snow away from bike lanes.