Monday, February 29, 2016

Dealing with the snow

A week or two ago had a post about dealing with snow on cycle lanes. It does snow here, and we have a lot of winter cycling, so we're now world famous to be mentioned in the Streetsblog article! Although they got it a bit wrong when they claimed we have an unique method of dealing with the snow: instead of salting, brushing or plowing, we compact it!

Just the thought of  anyone actually doing that makes me cringe. Apart from a ski resort or the jogging paths turned into ski tracks trough the forests, it does not make any sense. Although maybe it might actually work during the early winter, it would fail spectacularly every time we get a heat wave with above freezing temperatures.

Even with regular plowing we get 20 or 30 centimeters of accumulated ice on the roads. Snow turns into ice under the tyres of the cars and from the sunshine etc. By compacting we'd get more ice. Not all ice would be equally dense, some would be compacted more under the tyres and feet.

In the spring, maybe the softer ice melts a bit faster. The tyre ruts would be higher. Imaginne trying to drive along greased backs of pigs. Or maybe the ice starts to crack under your tyres. Pretty soon you'd be driving along 30cm deep ruts filled with slosh, hoping you'll be able to get out of the ruts when you want to turn. 

We don't use brush a lot for snow. Brushes are for street cleaning and collecting the gritting sand in the spring. For snow it's plowing, only on motorways and other big roads some salt is used as it's pretty difficult to try to keep the road surface ice/snow free.

Some comments re cycling and plowing:

  1. Wide paths. 
  2. On street lanes suck.
Bikeways need to be big enough for the plows used to clear them. A pickup truck can deal with small snows, but they can't push the piles further away if it keeps snowing. A wheel loader or a tractor can be used to make room for the pickup again.

The bikeways I'm riding are practically roads for bikes. The get plowed and gritted properly. The few on-street lanes in downtown are horrible, full of snow and ice. The gritting was not visible so I can't comment on that. :-/