Charlottesville’s Snow Removal Problem

As I sit her on this snowy afternoon, my thoughts turn to commuting to work with the fresh powder.  You see, the City of Charlottesville does not

Taken on March 4th. More than two weeks of impassable bicycle lanes on W. Main. Typical of conditions around the City.

maintain bicycle lanes which also means it does not clear snow from bicycle lanes.  Actually, things are worse than that.  The City not only does not clear bicycle lanes as it does all the motor vehicle lanes, it actually piles the snow removed from motor vehicle lanes INTO the bicycle lanes.  This is a continuing pattern over many years.

When the Charlottesville Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee made an inquiry with Public Works about the snow removal policy re bicycle lanes in the fall of 2014, the response was that the City clears bike lanes.  That was not true then and it is not true now as evidence by all the snow completely blocking bike lanes all around town for the last two weeks (and probably another week or two after the latest storm).

The problem is three-fold.  First, the City does not clear the bicycle lanes.  Second, the City piles snow IN the bicycle lanes making them unusable for far longer than almost all the other snow remains around (several years ago, there were nasty, black ice piles in the W. Main bicycle lanes until May).  Third, all the grit (and subsequent grime), that is spread on the motor vehicle lanes gets scraped into the bicycle lanes where it is “deposited” after the piled snow eventually melts.  Large piles of sand are now in bicycle lanes all over town and will remain there through spring.

I wrote to Public Works through their stated feedback email ( on the City’s Public Works website here.

February 20. 2015

To Whom It May Concern:

I understand the City has a policy to clear snow from bicycle lanes but the policy clearly is not practiced.  I know I don’t have to remind you how difficult and dangerous it is to ride a bicycle on snow and ice or be forced into a motor vehicle travel lane because of a snow obstacle.

Here is a link to just a few pictures I have shot over the last couple of days documenting the bicycle lane snow piles.

So, here we are almost a full work week after a major snow.  The City not only has not cleared the bicycle lanes on W. Main St or Preston or Rose Hill Dr.,snow has been piled up in the bicycle lanes in those and other locations.  After the major snow events in the last couple of years, the bicycle lane on W. Main was impassable for many weeks because the bike lane was the only place where snow was piled.  There was no other snow in sight other than in the bicycle lane.  This phenomenon is happening again especially in places like in front of The Flats on W. Main.  The City did not clear the bicycle lane, the snow from the travel lane was piled up in the bike lane by the City, the property owners have shoveled their walks into the bike lane, and this block is completely shaded.  I figure that snow pile will be there blocking the bike lane until spring.

Please, please clear the bicycle lanes when clearing snow or at least come back and clear the bicycle lanes after the major snow clearing has been done.  It seems that the snow plows are going to be back out this weekend.  Please take another pass through the major thoroughfares including W. Main, Ridge/McIntyre, Preston, Rose HIll, Rugby,Emmet, JPA, and Meade to ensure the bicycle lanes are cleared too.

I want confirmation that the City plans not only to rectify the immediate issues but is actually going to have followed bicycle lane clearing as policy.


I wrote them back on the February 26 and have still heard nothing.

Are you tired of the City not honoring its own policies and put people who ride bikes in danger?  I suggest you call or write them.

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