Winter weather brings cold temperatures and wet conditions to Toronto and can cause safety issues for cyclists, commuters and pedestrians. Review these tips to help you prepare for winter, as well as how the City braces for the winter weather.

Pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers need to work together to make walking safe, convenient, comfortable, and fun for people of all ages and abilities.

Tips for pedestrians in winter months

  • Being aware of our surroundings is key – although hoods, hats and umbrellas are necessary in our climate, it is important you have good visibility.
  • Always make eye contact with approaching drivers and cyclists before crossing the road.
  • Wear bright reflective clothing at night or during poor visibility. There are even reflective items for your pets.
  • Don’t “jaywalk” – it is illegal and unsafe. Cross at crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
  • Pay attention and don’t text while walking.

Winter cycling tips

  • Don’t ride bicycles on the sidewalk – stay to the right hand side of the roadway or in designated bike lanes.
  • Use a bell on your bicycle to warn approaching pedestrians and other road users.
  • Bicycles are vehicles and must follow all rules of the road.
  • Using a light on your bike or a handheld flashlight is helpful when travelling in the dark.
  • Obeying traffic laws – stopping and yielding at signs, looking both ways when turning and crossing.
  • Wearing reflective gear and items when out cycling helps you be seen by others around you.
  • If you encounter black ice, steer straight, don’t pedal, and try not to brake as this could cause you to skid and fall.
  • Avoid riding over snow–it may hide ice-and avoid riding over snow banks; stay on wet pavement.
  • Leave extra room for braking.
  • Streetcar tracks will be icy when other road surfaces are not. Try to walk your bicycle across streetcar/railway tracks. If you must cycle across, always cross at a right angle.
  • Lessen tire pressure to the low end of recommended range (written on tire sidewall) to increase traction.

If your vehicle is equipped for the weather and you’re feeling confident, remember to take extra precautions on the road. Be sure to plan ahead and always check road and weather conditions before heading out.

Tips for a safe winter drive

  • Give more distance between cars, slow down, and allow yourself more travel time.
  • Clear snow off your car windows, windshields, roof, trunk and hood before driving. Good visibility keeps yourself and others safe.
  • Remember: speed limits are set for ideal conditions.
  • Look twice for pedestrians crossing the road.
  • Give extra time and space to stop in bad weather.
  • Prevent hydroplaning by scanning ahead for large puddles and slowing down.
  • If you hydroplane, ease off the gas and keep steering in the direction you want to go – avoid braking.
  • If you hit black ice and start to skid, don’t brake. Ease off the gas, and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go.

Winter-prep your car

  • Check battery condition, terminals, windshield wipers and washer fluid levels.
  • Check coolant system level, lights and signals.
  • Observe tire wear and pressure.
  • Consider using snow tires for extra traction in slippery weather.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Start your block heater several hours before driving.
  • Start your car at least one minute before you drive it.
  • Drive slowly while engine components warm up.
  • Completely clear your vehicle of snow and ice, including the windows, mirrors, roof, trunk, hood and lights.

To keep our sidewalks and streets safe for people walking, driving, and cycling:

  • wherever the City does not provide mechanical sidewalk clearing, be sure to clear snow and ice from the full width of sidewalks that surround your property within 12 hours of the end of a storm.
  • shovel snow onto your property, away from the road and sidewalk
  • don’t push snow on city streets – it’s illegal
  • clear storm drains of leaves and snow to prevent flooding
  • when piling snow on your property, take care not to block sightlines from driveways
  • it’s your responsibility to clear snow from around fire hydrants
  • ask someone to clear your sidewalk if you’re away
  • please assist elderly or disabled neighbours by clearing snow for them
  • if you are a senior or person with a disability living in the core area you may be eligible for Mechanical Sidewalk Snow Clearing Services
  • we plow major roads, bus routes, school routes, and emergency routes
  • try to keep parked cars off the road during and shortly after a snow storm.  This allows plows to do their job better and push snow back to the curb.