Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Peds on Weds: Pathway plows along the canal

Since the canal is not yet officially closed for the season (though it's "Temporarily" closed as of this morning), I figure a post about walking conditions along the canal is timely.

While the NCC doesn't plow any of its pathways*, the City does. And I don't just mean that the City clears snow from City pathways—the City also plows the NCC's pathways along the canal, both on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway and Colonel By Driveway sides. The plows used aren't necessarily the same as what we're used to seeing on sidewalks, though. Here is the Argyle entrance to the canal in the south end of the Golden Triangle, and a plow is going by:

Zooming in, perhaps you can see the trailer being pulled behind the vehicle?

There is also a tracked vehicle sometimes on this beat, smaller than the one I showed busting up ice dams on Florence Street last winter, but also pulling a trailer.

The trailer, naturally, is carrying salt, a considerable amount of which is required on the lengthy, mostly uninterrupted, pathways. This one, plowing the pathway next to Colonel By Drive across from the Fifth Avenue rest area on the canal, is yet another model, sporting wheels:

*The plowing of paths is a longstanding complaint of cyclists and pedestrians alike, who use the pathways to commute and recreate. The accumulated snow and ice renders entire pathways unusable long into the spring thaw due to impassable sections. The NCC has offered various excuses for not plowing.

One of these excuses relies on the perennial buzzword of "liability", cousin of "safety". Because of dips in the paths, they could fill with water, which would freeze into ice, and thus be slippery. That's just not safe, you know.

The pathways along the canal, which are cleared, don't put up much rebuttal to this claim. Except this year they've been more puddles than Slip 'n Slides, but frustrating nonetheless. All through the Glebe, the snowbanks have walled in the water, preventing it from draining off the many low spots of the pathway (the same thing happens on the sidewalk along Gladstone in front of McNabb). Well-worn, elevated footpaths have established themselves atop the snowbanks—sometimes for quite a distance—as pedestrians have skirted these puddles (they were all bikeable, but people with strollers, wheelchairs, or mobility difficulties would have to get their feet wet):

Coincidentally, the pathway rises to a higher grade north of the Pretoria Bridge, so we don't have this problem on the pathway in Centretown! Everywhere else, however, has to deal with pathways that were designed for use in the Summer, when there are no snowbanks, and thus no problems with drainage or grading.

[Tune in on Wednesdays at noon for a new pedestrian-themed blog post. View the Pedestrians label for previous Peds on Weds posts]

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