Travel in Winter

Winter Conditions Affect Our Travel

  • Share the Road – with cyclists, pedestrians, transit and all vehicles
  • Slow down – stopping distances are longer and more unpredictable in the winter
  • Ensure your vehicle is in good winter condition
  • Snow plows and snow clearing equipment will clear Whitehorse roads and trails on a priority basis

Winter cycling is no longer a fringe activity. Whitehorse citizens are increasingly cycling year round. With the increase in winter cyclists comes an increased concern for safety. Drivers and cyclists have important roles to play in creating a bike friendly city that is safe for all modes of transportation.

Drivers

  • Do not drive, park or stop in bike lanes. There is a dedicated bike lane on Fourth Avenue, Quartz Rd., 6th Avenue, Lewes Blvd and Industrial Rd.
  • In the winter, bike lanes and wide curb lanes are hard to see, and may be impassible to cyclists. Cyclists may be riding farther from the curb in the winter and may be in the travel lane.
  • Pass cyclists only when safe to do so and at a reasonable speed.
  • Do not be aggressive towards cyclists. Remember, cyclists are entitled to use streets and roads. Although most like to avoid traffic, there may be parts of their commute where they have no option but to use a busy street.
  • Be mindful of cyclists, but treat them like vehicles if they are on the road. For example, stopping in the middle of the road to accommodate a cyclist is kind, but can be dangerous because other drivers may not know what is happening.

Cyclists

Be visible. Wear as much reflective clothing as possible. At a minimum, you must use a rear red light and a front white light attached to your bicycle. Visibility is also important in daytime, especially in snowy weather. Wear bright colours. Chartreuse is the most visible.

Wear a helmet. Helmets are required in the Bicycle Bylaw. Statistics support that helmet-use reduces the risk of head injury and death. They also keep your head warm.

Plan your route.  Your summer route may not be the best route to take in the winter. Routes are cleared on a priority basis – to better plan your route, know what to expect.

Respect pedestrians. Riding on the sidewalk is permitted in the winter except in the Commercial Business District (Bicycle Bylaw). Slow down and respect pedestrians. If you are using a pedestrian crosswalk, dismount before crossing.

Use hand signals at intersections and when turning. Drivers and other cyclists need to know your intentions.

Ride more slowly. Expect to take longer to get places than in the summer; being cautious may add more time to your commute.

Be cautious when turning. Intersections and turns are hot spots for cyclists. Do not assume that drivers have seen you, or that they are able to stop.

Know conditions. Be aware of road conditions and understand how your bike handles in various types of snow, road conditions, and temperatures. After a heavy snowfall, it may take a few days before roads are cleared or packed enough for some to feel comfortable riding. Know when to leave your bike at home.

Be alert to vehicles. Be aware of vehicles by shoulder checking or using your mirror frequently. Vehicles are quieter on snowy roads.

Be alert to hazards. Watch for hazards such as chunks of ice or sheets of ice. If you encounter black ice, steer straight ahead, don’t pedal. Try not to brake – this could cause you to skid.

Anticipate stops. Your brakes may be impaired by cold or snow, so give yourself plenty of time to stop.

Two Mile Hill: Do not ride on the Two Mile Hill vehicle lanes. Bicycles are not permitted on the roadway year round. The north side multi-use trail is cleared on a priority basis all winter.

Stay Warm: Take special care of your hands, feet, face, and ears, which are more vulnerable than if you are walking.

Feedback

To report cycling concerns regarding snow clearing or road maintenance, click here. To submit other feedback on active commuting, such as network improvements, please email the Environmental Coordinator at environment(at)whitehorse.ca or 668-8652.

Winter maintenance is reviewed annually and passed by Council as the Snow and Ice Control Policy. The City currently removes snow from the following sections of multi-use pathways (all sidewalk sections remain the responsibility of the adjacent property owner):

  • Multi-use pathway on the north-side of Two Mile Hill from Second Avenue to the Alaska Highway
  • Multi-use pathway on south side of Two Mile Hill from Second Avenue to Chilkoot Way, and from Range Rd to the Alaska Highway
  • Both sides of the Robert Campbell Bridge
  • Multi-use pathway on the North side of Lewes Blvd. from Hospital Rd to Alsek Rd (at traffic light)
  • Multi-use pathway on south side of Lewes Blvd. from Alsek Rd (at traffic lights) to Nisutlin Drive
  • Riverfront Trail (from Robert Campbell Bridge to Spook Creek Station)
  • Millennium Trail (entire loop)

Sidewalk sections adjacent to City property are also cleared by the City; all other sidewalks are the responsibility of adjacent business and residential property owners. The maps below shows the sidewalks and multi-use trail sections cleared by the City by neighbourhood:

The bike lanes on 4th Avenue are not specifically maintained during the winter and are often filled with snow and gravel. As an alternative, the City maintains 6th Avenue to Hanson, Hanson to 4th and then 4th Avenue to the RSW roundabout. The Riverfront Trail and the Millennium trails are also plowed and sanded throughout the winter. Please yield to pedestrians on multi-use trails, and use front and back lights.

The following trails are not cleared, but are packed by snow machine.

Transit stops are cleared on the following priority basis:

With the days getting shorter, the City of Whitehorse encourages pedestrians, cyclists and motorists to help each other stay safe.

The peak morning and evening commuting periods are now in darkness. We can all do our part to promote safe travel on City streets. Visibility, alertness, and communication between drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists are the order of the day for safe and active winter commuting.

Active transportation users are encouraged to dress in high visibility clothing and use adequate lights and reflectors. Making eye contact with drivers is also important in order to ensure you have been seen before proceeding through intersections and crossings.

All residents are required to fully clear sidewalks bordering their property. This avoids creating problems for people trying to move around, particularly those with mobility challenges. When clearing snow from sidewalks, place the snow at the curb edge or on your property, please do not move it onto roadways or private properties other than your own.

Drivers should be aware of pedestrians and cyclists, particularly children, using streets and intersections. Please remember you will need extra braking and stopping time due to ice, snow and weather changes. This can also cause more slipping and sliding to happen unexpectedly.

Drivers can also do their part by travelling within the speed limits, yielding to pedestrians, and respecting cyclists’ right to use the roadway. Extra caution is advised on the shared roadway on the Robert Campbell Bridge into Riverdale. Mutual respect by all users will help build safer streets.

Why not use Transit? Get schedules and more information here.

Sign up for Rideshare and share your ride with a neighbour or co-worker!  Save time scraping the windshield and  warming up the car. By sharing the ride, you save gas and reduce the volume of traffic, making it safer for all commuters.