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Jan 17, 2011

D.I.Y. Snow Clearing of Vital Commuting Link

Here in Calgary we are very fortunate to have a city that clears many kilometres of pathways during the winter, making bike commuting a year 'round option for those who live close to the cleared sections and want to continue to cycle.

Sadly, there are vital links in the pathway system that the city cannot (or will not for various reason) clear snow from.  One of these sections is shown below in the map.  It links the Bow River MUP near the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary to the MUP heading south towards Lynnwood and Riverbend.  Basically, it is the only connection available from the south heading towards downtown that is direct, safe, and efficient.

View DIY Shoveling Section in a larger map

A few of the cyclists that winter bike commute from the south end of the city have been struggling with getting through here this winter and decided to take matters into their own hands after repeated requests to the city to clear it.  Here is a link to the story on our local bike advocacy forum, Bike Calgary.  Armed with a handful of people sporting shovels - including local Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra, and one snowblower, these DIY'ers had the pathway cleared (right down to the asphalt in places) in a few hours - all in -20c conditions and a nasty wind making the wind chills even colder.  Here is more info from the organizer "Oggie" - 

"What follows is a 'brief' outline of our activities.  I think this weekend was the fourth time the pathway has been shovelled this winter; first time was in late November.  Most time we shovel 2+ kms of path.  It varies depending on how much path Roads crews clear; they've been good this winter so most times we just shovel from the wooden trestle to the Walker house.  Most of the volunteers are from BikeCalgary.  A few are pathway users we've run into while shovelling and decided to help us once we explained what we were doing.  We've shovelled the equivalent of 10 km of path, though it is probably more because of repeated passes of the same section.  This weekend was the first time we had the use of a snow blower, which made the job much easier.  We've used 80 kilograms of ice melter so far this winter, primarily on the wooden trestle and icy sections.  I've gone through one shovel already.

Response from pathway users, cyclists/joggers/walkers, has been very positive.  One thing I've noticed is that I'm seeing more cyclists using the path as the winter progresses, usually it is the reverse.  I think word is slowly getting out that the path is being maintained this winter and more cyclist are using the path and cycling this winter.  I hope the City eventually gets the hint and starts maintaining the path but we're prepared to keep at it until spring.  Alderman Carra has obviously been very supportive and is actively trying to get Parks to clear the path from Inglewood to Glenmore."

Bravo fellas!

A note to the City of Calgary - come on folks, why are average citizens doing your job for you?  This section should be included in the pathway clearing plan so that people in Lynwood, Ogden, Riverbend, Douglas Glen, and points south can continue to use bikes all winter.  Our opinion is that the MUP should be cleared all the way down to Fish Creek Park so that people can use the pathways for transportation all season long.

After all, every bike on the MUP's is one less car on the road, right?

*** UPDATE ***
I just received a message from Ald. Carra that this section will now be plowed by parks effective immediately on a Priority 2 basis and will be reviewed at the end of the season as to whether they will continue.  Great job to all involved!

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