KITCHENER – The first significant snowfall of the year has many cyclists questioning how separated bike lanes will remain cleared.

"It's like riding in wet sand and your wheel is going all over the place," says cyclist David Trueman.

City staff says it aims to clear the separated lanes as quickly as possible after snow has stopped and will try to make at least one full clearing pass within 24 hours of snowfall.

But it says the bike lane along Queen's Boulevard and Belmont Avenue is part of a pilot project to understand and evaluate the implications of maintaining bike lanes during the winter.

"As this is a pilot, it is likely that at times sections of the bike lane may not be fully maintained. Where these issues occur, staff will work quickly to address problems and keep the lane clear for cyclists," a statement from the city reads in part.

The program to clear the separated lanes runs in parallel to the road clearing program.

"They're really trying. I don't think we'll see every bike lane cleared for cycling in the future," says Emily Slofstra, the chair of CycleWR.

The City of Waterloo also says they follow guidelines set out by the Ministry of Transportation, which means they have 12 hours after the snow has stopped to get the job done.

A report on the pilot that details its use, design, operational costs and benefits is due back to council in the fall of 2020.