Many people in Toronto cycle all year to work, school, for errands or for recreation. Annual counts have shown about 20 per cent of peak summer cycling volumes continue through the winter, which translates to approximately 1,200 people a day cycling on Richmond Street/Adelaide Street, and approximately 1,000 people a day cycling on Bloor Street.

Providing clear and safe bikeways in winter encourages more people to cycle on city streets and trails. With a bit of extra planning, preparation and the right mindset, winter cycling is feasible and enjoyable in the colder months.

All types of bikeways are plowed during the winter months. Winter maintenance of cycle tracks and multi-use paths begins when two cm of snow accumulates and are plowed separately from the road using smaller plows that are narrower than an on-street cleaner, and are up to 1.5 meters wide. This equipment is used to clear snow and ice from bikeways with physical barriers or that are raised from the roadway. For two-way bikeways, the snow clearer will make one pass in each direction to ensure both lanes are clear of snow and ice.

On road bicycle lanes are salted at about the same time as the adjacent road, when snow begins to accumulate. Residential streets with bikeways such as contra-flow bicycle lanes are plowed when eight cm of snow accumulates.

Learn more about the City’s levels of service for bikeway winter maintenance. If you identify an unplowed bikeway, please submit a service request to 311.

During the winter, route planning is especially important. Plan your route in advance using the Toronto Cycling Map and have an alternative in case of snow or ice.

During the winter months, the City maintains trails, pathways and roads within more than 250 parks across Toronto. The City cannot maintain all pathways in all parks during the winter, due to local and environmental conditions. Please visit Welcome TO Winter for more information

Use the City’s PlowTO Map to find streets that have been cleared of snow and ice for optimal cycling conditions.

Maintaining your bike regularly during the winter months is the best way to ensure it will work properly and reliably in snowy or icy conditions.

  • Carry either a lighter, WD40, or light machine oil in case your lock freezes. Try adding a drop of oil or graphite lock lubricant in the locking mechanism to prevent freezing.
  • Lessen tire pressure to the low end of recommended range (written on tire sidewall) to increase traction.
  • Adjust your fenders, if necessary, to increase space between the fender and tire to avoid snow build up.
  • Clips are not recommended in snowy or icy conditions, as you may have to put your feet down in a hurry.

If you prefer to leave your bike indoors but still want to experience winter cycling, consider using Bike Share Toronto, which offers access to bikes throughout the city 365 days a year.

With a bit of extra preparation, including checking the weather conditions and understanding how to navigate city streets in the winter months, winter cycling can be as enjoyable and rewarding as cycling any other time of the year.

  • Snow banks may force people cycling further out in a lane. Communicate your intentions by shoulder checking and using hand signals if you need to move out from the curb.
  • Lights should be used in all seasons 30 minutes before sunset until 30 minutes after sunrise.
  • Wear a close fitting breathable base layer and waterproof jacket and pants if possible. Be cautious to choose items that will not catch in the chain or other parts of the bicycle.
  • If you encounter black ice, steer straight, avoid pedaling, and try not to brake as this could cause you to skid and fall.
  • Leave extra room for braking and shift often to prevent snow from locking the chain.