Main page content begins here

Cycling in the winter is much like preparing for other outdoor winter activities, like skiing. With a few adjustments you can keep cycling through the winter.

Keep Rolling When It's Snowing - Winter Cycling Brochure

The City removes snow from sidewalks adjacent to the Downtown Bike Network within 24 hours after the end of a snowfall.

If you remove snow from these sidewalks before the City gets there, please do not deposit it in bike lanes as it creates unsafe cycling conditions.

Prepare For The Ride

Suit Up
  • Layer up! Wear a waterproof, windproof and breathable outer layer, a warm moisture-wicking inner layer and long underwear
  • Keep your extremities warm with good gloves or mittens, socks and boots
  • Heat escapes through your head, cover it up, but be sure your helmet will fit over top
  • Keep the snow and wind out of your eyes with goggles
  • Be sure to tuck in your scarf so it doesn’t get caught
  • Avoid wearing glasses, watches, jewellery or zipper pulls - they can get cold enough to give you frostbite
Get In Gear
  • Consider a single gear bike or dedicated winter bike
  • A back fender can keep the slush off, but it can also trap snow and ice if it is too tight-fitting
  • To minimize possible rust, clean your bike often
  • Clean and lubricate your chains, brakes and cables
  • Good tires can improve traction, install studded or knobby tires; slightly deflate your tires for added grip; and choose wide tires
Stand Out
Required Equipment

Your bike must have a white headlamp, a red tail lamp and a red rear reflector if you bike in the dark in Edmonton. 

Recommended Equipment

Consider adding a light to the back of your bike. Extra LED lights can also be mounted to your helmet or handlebars to help light your way. Add reflectors such as vests, straps, tape or plastic pieces to your bicycle or clothing.

Cycle Smart
Riding
  • Cycle more defensively and anticipate problems
  • Slow down and pedal smoothly while watching out for other vehicles on the road
  • Make eye contact with drivers to ensure you are seen
  • Keep your head up and scan the route ahead while evaluating the road condition directly in front of you
  • Avoid quick turns and leaning too much into curves
  • Stay in a straight line - avoid over-steering or weaving
  • Brake early and slowly, primarily using your rear brakes
Take A Bus

If conditions deteriorate, hop on a bus or LRT. Most City buses have bike racks and bikes are allowed on the LRT during off-peak hours. Find out more about bikes on ETS.

Food and Water

The winter air is dry, so drink water to stay hydrated during your ride. A small snack can give you the extra energy you need to stay warm.

Winter Bike Lane Maintenance

The City works to keep bike lanes and multi-use paths safe during the winter. Timing the clearing of bike lanes to align with adjacent main roads is an approach that helps ensure that all travellers on our busiest traffic routes are entitled to the same road maintenance standards, regardless of mode. Bike traffic is not prioritized over vehicle traffic; rather, our practices help keep all types of traffic moving.

The City will make best efforts to plow and remove snow on bike lanes within 24 hours after the end of a snowfall. Shared-use paths are cleared within 48 hours after the end of a snowfall.

Many bike lanes and multi-use paths are part of the anti-icing pilot.

Road maintenance activities involved in maintaining clear bike lanes include applying anti-icer, sweeping, removing snow from buffer areas and clearing snow from adjacent sidewalks.

Winter Roads - Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are the bike lanes cleared while the driving lanes aren’t?

Generally, the protected bike routes are cleared with the same same priority as arterial roads for cars.

Bike lanes are often cleared sooner than some roads because there are fewer bike lanes to clear. There is over 2,100 km of major collector roads and only 7.8 km of downtown bike lanes.

Different staff and equipment are used to clear protected bike lanes so clearing them does not slow down road clearing efforts.

Protected bike lanes are part of the overall city's winter maintenance program.

When and how do the bike lanes get plowed during the winter?
When We Clear Bike Lanes

Snow from the protected bike lanes will be cleared at the same priority as other major roads in Edmonton.

How We Clear Bike Lanes

If the bike lane is at least 3 metres wide you can expect to see a street sweeper, a truck with a front mount blade or a broom to plow to bare pavement. The largest piece of equipment that fits in the bike lanes is a snow blower mounted on a piece of heavy equipment that can blow all the snow into trucks to be hauled away. Wherever the bike lanes are reduced to less than 3 metres, smaller equipment, such as skid steer loaders or tractors will be used. You may also see a truck with a liquid tank that can apply anti-icing material.

Anti-Icing Pilot

The protected bike routes are a part of the pilot anti-icer project. The anti-icer is a calcium chloride solution with an added corrosion inhibitor. It is applied in a thin layer to roadways, once per snow event, before or during a snowfall and helps prevent the snow from sticking on the ground. 

Do I need special gear for cycling in the winter?

You can probably use what you already own!

  • Wear a waterproof, windproof and breathable outer layer, a warm moisture-wicking inner layer and long underwear
  • Keep your extremities warm with good gloves or mittens, socks and boots
  • Heat escapes through your head, cover it up, but be sure your helmet will fit over top
  • Keep the snow and wind out of your eyes with sunglasses or goggles
Is it the law to have a light on your bike?

When riding after dark, bicycles must have a front headlight, a red tail light and a red rear reflector.

Bicycle Equipment – Part 6 Division 5 Section 113

Reflective vests and other lightly coloured clothes with reflective tape are recommended for extra visibility.

Other Essential Equipment

  • A bell or horn
  • All bikes are required to have at least one functional brake
  • When cycling at night a white headlamp, a red tail lamp and a red rear reflector
  • If under the age of 18, a helmet
Do I need to take care of my bike differently during the winter?
How To Maintain Your Bike In Winter
  • To minimize possible rust, clean your bike often
  • Clean and oil your chains and cables
  • Good tires can improve traction
  • Install studded or knobby tires; slightly deflate your tire for added grip; and choose wide tires
  • A back fender can keep the slush off clothes
  • You may also consider a single gear bike or dedicated winter bike
What do you do if you start biking and the weather conditions get worse?

If conditions deteriorate, hop on a bus or LRT. All City buses have bike racks and bikes are allowed on the LRT during off-peak hours. 

Bikes On ETS

Who do I contact if a bike lane is not cleared or if I have questions about snow removal?

If you have concerns about snow and ice management, please contact 311.

Will the protected bike lanes be used during the winter?

The bike lanes will still be usable in the winter as they will be cleared within 24-48 hours of a snowfall.

Safety

The bike lanes provide a safe space for both cyclists and motorists. With the snow, ice and slush, cyclists are pushed further into the lane-way, providing less space between cyclists and motorists. The bike lanes now give both modes their own space and accessible space.

Increased Use

2017 is the first year with the bike infrastructure, the City expects to see an increase in people commuting by bike compared to past winters. There has been a significant increase of cyclists downtown in Edmonton with the opening of the bike lanes. Looking at other cities research, Calgary saw an increase of 4 times as many cyclists during the winter between 2015-2016 due to the introduction of the bike lanes.

Request A Ride Along

Interactive tours led by the City's Bike Education Street Team.

Winter Cycling

Roadway Alerts

Sign up to be the first to know about major plowing events and parking bans.

For More Information

Roadway Maintenance

Telephone

Call 311 for more information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Note: Email is monitored during business hours.

In Edmonton: 311
Outside Edmonton: 780-442-5311

TTY 780-944-5555
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/cityofedmonton
Twitter http://www.twitter.com/cityofedmonton

End of page content. Please choose between the following five options:

Back to main menu Back to current page menu and content View current page breadcrumb Back to site search Continue to page footer content