Life in the (Winter) Bike Lane

by CycleChick on November 15, 2012

If you think it takes a little extra dose of crazy to commute by bike in the winter, you’re right. As if the challenges of fair-weather commuting aren’t bad enough, winter adds a whole new level of danger that can make your commute feel a bit like one of those crazy Japanese game shows where people navigate some ridiculous obstacle course, only to land face-first in a puddle of sludge.

But this, ladies and gentlemen, is Winnipeg – where we load the groceries into the house in one trip, no matter how many bags we have. If you want easy, move to fucking Copenhagen. And take me with you. Please.

The City does a great job of keeping our bike commutes super exciting, adding obstacles at every turn and offering a wide variety of fun terrain to ride through.Where the city folks fall down, the public sector is all too happy to step up. Pedestrians help keep us sharp by darting in our path without looking. Thankfully they are bundled up in layers of nice puffy clothing to protect them from the snow and cold, so if you hit one it doesn’t hurt as much.
By the way, I stopped and turned around to take a picture of this pedestrian, who did wait (right on the edge of the white line) until I passed to cross the bike lane. Right after that, the plow started driving towards me so I had to get moving!

As far as providing creative challenges that are almost beyond comprehension, delivery and moving vehicles take the top podium spot for sure.This fellow is actually parked right in a buffered bike lane. I suppose I shouldn’t judge though – the signage, after all, can be open to interpretation.Of course I understand that sometimes these things can’t be helped. Sometimes, you need to do whatever is necessary for your own convenience regardless of others. So I hope nobody minded that I had to park my bike here to quicky to run an errand when there was no convenient bike parking available.

I can hardly wait to see what’s in store for my ride home in the dark. Bring in on Winnipeg – it’s going to be awesome!


What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I hope it doesn’t kill us? We are a nuts for doing this bike commuting thing, but it’s still better than the stinking car. Stay safe sister.

by terry macyk on November 15, 2012 at 7:43 pm. Reply #

i like to think of the “brown sugar” (the soft snow sand mixture) that i plow through everyday, trying to keep as straight a line as possible, as training for the where’s the beach race.

not obstacles just opportunities when winter cycling in winnipeg

by Hal on November 15, 2012 at 8:34 pm. Reply #

My frozen bike lock resulted in a run rather than a ride this morning. Trust me not much better. The sidewalks are terrible and when you hit the cross walk button drivers simply think the blinking lights mean hit the gas.

by Kristen on November 15, 2012 at 8:40 pm. Reply #

I’d actually planned on putting a link to this video in my post and forgot! Thanks for sharing it here. It makes a great point – following the prescribed route is not always safe, or even possible. I don’t know if anyone here has ever been ticketed for not riding in the bike lane, but they do hand out tickets for riding on sidewalks over bridges.

by CycleChick on November 15, 2012 at 9:15 pm. Reply #

I am waiting for the police to issue you me a ticket for my daily ride on Berry St via the sidewalk. With said ticket Mr Katz will get an email along with the police chief and anyone else I can think of. Apparently the bike lane is the is where all the snow goes ! Oh yes I am proudly one of the winter commuter crazies.

by Phil on November 15, 2012 at 8:53 pm. Reply #

Oh man. My winter bike is still a solid piece of metal, all rusted up from last year, but I can’t WAIT to get back on it. It looks nuts, but we do it because somehow, it is still totally fun.

PS: Few things fill me with rage like encountering a vehicle in the Assiniboine Cycle track.

by Melissa on November 15, 2012 at 9:16 pm. Reply #

As always , when you ride a bike in Winnipeg…. you are of lesser value on the food chain, even though you pay taxes, work, and contribute to society. As soon as your butt hits the Brooks, you are magically transformed into everyone’s demon. I have moved to the Parkland, my exercise is riding on snowmobile trails with my Moonlander, and believe it or not all users are not only considerate , but are amused another sport can be used for the trails, yes I have a Snopass !!!

by Terry K on November 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm. Reply #

That’s awesome Terry! Glad you found a fun and safe place to play!

by CycleChick on November 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm. Reply #

Biking in Wpg during the winter is challenging; try negotiating our ‘cleaned’ sidewalks while using crutches. Drivers are as ticked at people with crutches as they are with cyclists. The similarity – both cause cars to slow down. oops. Our bad. Look at the bright side – spring is coming….

by rick on November 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm. Reply #

Yikes! I can barely walk on sidewalks without crutches! You be careful young man!

by CycleChick on November 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm. Reply #

Its scary out there for sure. I don’t understand the difficulty cars have with passing a cyclist. It would be way easier for a car to go off bare road into the mashed potato than a cyclist to pass. Instead I find myself making way for cars to pass and nearly wiping out. Only one frigging lane is cleared on Wellington crescent. Amazingly Assiniboine Park bike paths are bare pavement and road is semi hard packed snow.

by ED W. on November 16, 2012 at 9:51 pm. Reply #

A hard first winter week mad my mind wander into dangerous thoughts. Nearly killed at least twice by cars – one chicken game on Assiniboine, one side swipe onto Maryland by the frosted-windshield-java -ady. Zone plowing is a car-centric device and has nothing to do with active transport commuting – suburbs were great, but barriers and bottlenecks to get into downtown were terrible. Even the sidewalk plow I stopped to ask that he do the underpass of Osborne st. bridge was ignored. Like Omand’s creek bridge – either push through the snow and take out the ped, or walk the bike and take up twice the room and hip check the ped over the rail. Light at Ms. Romanow’s corner is burnt out – at least cars aren’t able to stop on the outsweep anymore due to the snow. Why is there no camera, speed gizmo, signage, speed bump there? Aren’t they supposed to react and do something when someone gets killed? No road lights on Wellington west of Rady, and path is just a bit too soft for easy riding in the dark with studded 700s, so the Chicane of Pain must be ridden where other fatal tree accidents have happened. Winnipeggers are only able to drive in straight lines, I think, but without brakes – countless red lights run at full speed by cars. Yet they’re debating the “worth” of red-light cameras and jurisdictional hassles about “infrastructure” for prevention?? One death = $50k one-time cost for MPI. One c6 para = $8 – $20 million life time cost (or what’s left of it.) Pop quiz: what entity financially benefits from capital investment in road safety? Struggling through lovely snow creates ugly, bitter rant-fodder.

by Jason on November 17, 2012 at 1:04 am. Reply #

As much as I love the summer road season, I’ve really fallen in love with winter commuting. The rest of the year is spent training and racing, but riding in winter is all about just enjoying being outside on a bike. As for Winnipeg – there are improvements that can be made for commuting in this city for sure, but we’ve come a long way in the past few years. At the very least we seem to be headed in the right direction.

by JL on November 20, 2012 at 10:18 pm. Reply #

Me too. I can’t explain it, but I actually prefer winter commuting to summer commuting. Maybe because I ride enough in the summer otherwise. I find winter riding peaceful and contemplative, if a little sketchy and frustrating at times. Agreed, as much as I complain about the bike lanes, at least we have some, which is something.

by CycleChick on November 20, 2012 at 10:55 pm. Reply #

Last week I cycled a short distance for shopping and errands. All was fine (but cold) until hitting black ice in West Broadway. Wipeout. I don’t want to give up cycling for a few months but that almost made me say, “uncle!”.

by Dave on November 26, 2012 at 11:38 pm. Reply #

This is my 17th winter driving my bike! I have been hit by a car so many times, that I stopped counting after 7. (Ballpark guess? 12 or 15 times maybe.) I’ve only had to go to the hospital for 3 of them thankfully.
Point is:
I have NOT been hit by a car in 5 or 6 years! So, as an experienced year-round cyclist; I would say that infrastructure & drivers attitudes have changed. I’m not dead yet!
We’ve still got a long way to in making cycling acceptable in any season. But it certainly has improved these last few years.
Drive safe my friends!

by Yer Pal on December 17, 2012 at 11:57 pm. Reply #

Hey Cycle Chick,

The Metro article about you was just posted to the forum. Winter commuters unite!
Come join us:
for lots of stories, picture and tales of commuting through sleet & snow & wind & rain.

by Brian on January 31, 2013 at 3:38 pm. Reply #

Hey Brian! Thanks, I joined the forum and will try to figure out how it works!

by CycleChick on February 4, 2013 at 1:43 am. Reply #

You guys are crazy ; riding in winter. It’s dangerous riding in Wpg in all other seasons!! I’ve cycled to work since 1970 in Ottawa; Exeter UK; Margate UK; & Wpg. I got to be 81 by NOT riding in winter in Ottawa & Wpg. You’re also a hazard to motorists. P lease don’t involve me in your in your daredevil antics.

by John Harrison on August 20, 2013 at 12:09 am. Reply #

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