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Image: Will Cowan

The City of Philadelphia informed us in late February 2020 of the purchase of eight snow plows small enough to sweep bike lanes. The 2019-2020 winter had about three inches of snow, so no one ever got to see the plows in action.

This winter is a bit different, so far. Philadelphia is expecting, as of Monday afternoon, anywhere from five to 11 inches of snow by late Tuesday. And this morning, the bike lane street sweepers were spotted in the wild, a box-check in the right direction as Philadelphia works to become a city that values all modes of transportation.

We have not yet confirmed which bike lanes will be plowed using the new equipment, and will have a better understanding of the extent to which they were used after the snow storm is over.

Over the years, prioritizing bicycle infrastructure in snow storms has become a frustrating issue for cyclists. Often, plows merely sweep snow into the bike lane, leaving cyclists without segregated infrastructure in the winter months. Additionally, not all neighborhoods have been prioritized in the past, an issue we’ve been working to fix, as well. We are hopeful now that these new machines are in use, the city will move closer to having a working snow policy that prioritizes multi-modal transportation.

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