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Old 05-16-08, 09:29 PM   #1
Ron in Regina
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Bicycles in Traffic in the Winter

Bicycles in traffic in Winter. I had never seen this type of
behavior until the last four years or so. It might have something
to do with the price of gasoline but I really don't know. I live in
Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and we have ugly winters here.
Three lane streets in summer become two lane streets in the
winter, and two lane streets in summer become one lane streets
in the winter due to the sheer volume of snow. This winter we only
had one week in the -50c range, but several in the -30c to -45c
range, and months in the 0c to -30c range...
A two wheeled vehicle with 1"-2" wide tires has very little
stability and very little traction, and are a danger to themselves &
anyone else that comes near them. Is this just a local phenomenon,
or is this type of behavior widespread? With the wheel ruts on most
streets, the cars have dificulty swearving or stopping, let alone a
person on a bicycle.
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Old 05-16-08, 09:42 PM   #2
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Old 05-16-08, 09:47 PM   #3
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it's pretty widespread, Ron. and you'll be seing more and more bicyclists in the summer too. do you feel the same way about summertime cyclists on the roads?
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Old 05-16-08, 10:21 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in Regina View Post
A two wheeled vehicle with 1"-2" wide tires has very little stability and very little traction, and are a danger to themselves & anyone else that comes near them. Is this just a local phenomenon, or is this type of behavior widespread? With the wheel ruts on most streets, the cars have dificulty swearving or stopping, let alone a person on a bicycle.
We had a few days of bad ice here in the northeast this winter. I'm certain that I had far more traction than anyone in a car thanks to my studded tires. They'd probably agree since I got to watch two people crash and another run off the road right in front of me.

As to cyclists being "a danger to themselves & anyone else that comes near them", what's going to happen? Are they going to dent a door panel? Seems a lot less dangerous than broadsiding another car with your own car.

With a properly equipped bike, cycling in snow can be a lot of fun and plenty safe. As long as motorists are using the same generous passing clearance that they use (or should) in the warmer months, there is very little danger out there for a cyclist other than falling resulting in a single vehicle crash, where the cyclist picks up his bike, brushes off the snow, and gets back on. The alternative that I've witnessed is motorists in single vehicle crashes where they take out a guardrail or telephone pole or flips their car onto it's hood.
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Old 05-17-08, 12:25 AM   #5
Ron in Regina
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Bicycles in Traffic in the Winter

I don't have any problem with bicycles in the summer as long as they
follow the rules of the road and stay off the sidewalks (that's the law here).
I've seen so many close calls where cyclists come so close to becoming
a portion of the undercarriage of other road vehicles in the Winter, and I
don't want to kill anyone due to their own stupidity.
These snow studded tires (on bicycles) are something I haven't seen
yet, but should be mandatory if someone is using bikes on the parries in Canada.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm not anti-bicycle at all; I'm against stupidity. If
someone wants to kill themselves, I don't want to be the instrument they end
up using.
We don't have a few bad day's of ice here, we have Oct.-April of Winter.
The roads become polished in the ruts for 4 of the 6 months of Winter. Many
cars can't get out of the ruts until they're in an intersection. I run studded snow
tires on my car but not everyone does, & I've yet to see a bicycles oufitted
that way.
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Old 05-17-08, 02:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in Regina View Post
I don't have any problem with bicycles in the summer as long as they
follow the rules of the road and stay off the sidewalks (that's the law here).
I've seen so many close calls where cyclists come so close to becoming
a portion of the undercarriage of other road vehicles in the Winter, and I
don't want to kill anyone due to their own stupidity.
These snow studded tires (on bicycles) are something I haven't seen
yet, but should be mandatory if someone is using bikes on the parries in Canada.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm not anti-bicycle at all; I'm against stupidity. If
someone wants to kill themselves, I don't want to be the instrument they end
up using.
We don't have a few bad day's of ice here, we have Oct.-April of Winter.
The roads become polished in the ruts for 4 of the 6 months of Winter. Many
cars can't get out of the ruts until they're in an intersection. I run studded snow
tires on my car but not everyone does, & I've yet to see a bicycles oufitted
that way.

Cycling is extremely challenging in the conditions you describe even with studded tires. If you think it's difficult to get out of those ruts in a car try it on a bike. Please cut winter bicyclists some slack. What you see as 'stupid' may just be somebody doing the best they can under tough conditions. Not everybody has the option of driving.

Robert
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Old 05-17-08, 06:10 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron in Regina View Post
I don't have any problem with bicycles in the summer as long as they
follow the rules of the road and stay off the sidewalks (that's the law here).
I've seen so many close calls where cyclists come so close to becoming
a portion of the undercarriage of other road vehicles in the Winter, and I
don't want to kill anyone due to their own stupidity.
These snow studded tires (on bicycles) are something I haven't seen
yet, but should be mandatory if someone is using bikes on the parries in Canada.
Don't get me wrong here. I'm not anti-bicycle at all; I'm against stupidity. If
someone wants to kill themselves, I don't want to be the instrument they end
up using.
We don't have a few bad day's of ice here, we have Oct.-April of Winter.
The roads become polished in the ruts for 4 of the 6 months of Winter. Many
cars can't get out of the ruts until they're in an intersection. I run studded snow
tires on my car but not everyone does, & I've yet to see a bicycles oufitted
that way.
So you don't have any problem with law abiding bicyclists in the summer but come winter we all lose our rights to the road?

I ride all winter, sometimes with studded tires sometimes without. I've fallen a total of 3 times in 10 years of winter riding. If I end up on someone's undercarriage, it won't be because of my "stupidity" for riding in the snow, it will almost certainly be because of the drivers illegal driving.

Don't knock it until you've tried it and even then don't knock it just because you might not be able to do it.
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Old 05-17-08, 07:20 AM   #8
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I was riding bikes all winter long in the 1980's in a region where I skiied to grade school thru college, had white ice and greazey frazil on the roads 5 months out of the year, ruts, snowbanks so high they obscured views at corners, and found myself MORE MOBILE than many of the motorists. I remember fondly times I would pass motorists spinning and skidding while riding to university. sorry, no winter bike pictures from that era though. didn't think much of it, it was pretty mundane.

home made studded tires and parrafin dipped drivetrains, huzzah!
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Old 05-17-08, 01:33 PM   #9
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I rode through two Calgary winters, and through the last winter in Toronto. While neither city has the harsh winters of Sask., I can say with some authority that I've had closer calls driving a car in winter than cycling. Furthermore, when I have crashed while cycling (Going down 29th NW in Calgary just below foothills hospital if anyone reading this is familiar), there have been no ill effects.

I can't say the same for driving in winter. The worst I've done is knock off the alignment, but I have witnessed far worse.

It seems to me that it is safer to ride or walk in winter than drive, as traction is reduced for all vehicles, and that crashes involving cars tend to cause more property damage/injuries/deaths than crashes involving only bikes or only pedestrians.

I tried head to head comparisons for bike vs. car on ice. The bike had better traction for stopping and turning than the car did (I have studded tires on the bike, and the car did not have snow tires), and even when skidding the bike was relatively stable (see studded tires above).

1-2 inch tires are fine in snow and ice, and ask any pedestrian if they'd rather be hit by a car or a bike, and most will tell you they'd rather be hit by the bike.

I don't believe the original post holds up.

The main advantage to cars in winter is that they are warmer than cycling (an important consideration at -30C), and their perennial advantage in cargo hauling, not safety and traction.
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Old 05-17-08, 02:09 PM   #10
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The main advantage to cars in winter is that they are warmer than cycling (an important consideration at -30C), and their perennial advantage in cargo hauling, not safety and traction.
Two other advantages cars have in the winter is the ability to travel long distances through heavy snow without tiring and the ability to use limited access freeways which are generally more clear of snow and ice than any other road.

The one thing I enjoy most about cycling in the snow/ice is that it's the great speed equalizer on the prime arterials around here. While it may seem like barely moving in a car, 10mph through the snow on a bike is pretty decent speed (for me at least).
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Old 05-17-08, 03:35 PM   #11
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I must have missed the part about how roads with snow on them belong solely to cars. I'd just about be willing to bet money that on any given day, anywhere, there's more inexperienced car drivers on snow or ice than cyclists.
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Old 05-17-08, 08:27 PM   #12
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Old 05-18-08, 11:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
I was riding bikes all winter long in the 1980's in a region where I skiied to grade school thru college, had white ice and greazey frazil on the roads 5 months out of the year, ruts, snowbanks so high they obscured views at corners, and found myself MORE MOBILE than many of the motorists. I remember fondly times I would pass motorists spinning and skidding while riding to university. sorry, no winter bike pictures from that era though. didn't think much of it, it was pretty mundane.

home made studded tires and parrafin dipped drivetrains, huzzah!
He's talking about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which gets even more snow off Lake Superior than Buffalo gets off Lake Erie. I'm a lightweight in lower Michigan, but I've managed to make it carfree through 5 winters so far, with only 2 "wimp days"--when I walked to work instead if riding.

(Of course, Bek, nowadays you can actually buy studded tires--you don't even have to make your own.)

OP--save your sympathy and concerns for people who actually need them. Winter cycling is both great sport and great transportation.
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Old 05-18-08, 12:49 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Ron in Regina View Post
A two wheeled vehicle with 1"-2" wide tires has very little
stability and very little traction, and are a danger to themselves &
anyone else that comes near them. Is this just a local phenomenon,
or is this type of behavior widespread? With the wheel ruts on most
streets, the cars have dificulty swearving or stopping, let alone a
person on a bicycle.
A bicycle with studded tires is STABLE, has BETTER TRACTION THAN AN AUTOMOBILE, and is much less of a "danger to themselves & anyone else that comes near them" than any of the massive metal boxes sliding around on the road at high speeds.
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Old 05-18-08, 01:40 PM   #15
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A bicycle with studded tires is STABLE, has BETTER TRACTION THAN AN AUTOMOBILE, and is much less of a "danger to themselves & anyone else that comes near them" than any of the massive metal boxes sliding around on the road at high speeds.
I'll second that. I saw plenty of cars swerving around like mad last winter, in our record snowfalls. I never came close to losing control of the bike. At one point a friend offered me a ride - I told him "No way I'm getting into that death-trap in this weather!"

If a motorist feels uncomfortable with the behaviour or safety of another road user, than his/her legal responsibility is to maintain a safe distance.
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Old 05-18-08, 05:29 PM   #16
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I'll second that. I saw plenty of cars swerving around like mad last winter, in our record snowfalls. I never came close to losing control of the bike. At one point a friend offered me a ride - I told him "No way I'm getting into that death-trap in this weather!"

If a motorist feels uncomfortable with the behaviour or safety of another road user, than his/her legal responsibility is to maintain a safe distance
.
I use that line too, when I'm riding past co-workers who are scraping ice off their windshields. "Boy I'd sure hate to be driving in weather like this!"

Winter is hard on the bike, however. This spring I needed a new rim, chain, freewheel, bottom bracket and rear derailleur. That's a record for repairs, though. Most winters aren't quite that devastating.
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Old 05-18-08, 07:57 PM   #17
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Winter is hard on the bike, however. This spring I needed a new rim, chain, freewheel, bottom bracket and rear derailleur. That's a record for repairs, though. Most winters aren't quite that devastating.
While my Bessie held up well, spring cleaning took more than twice as much time as usual. At one point I seriously considered taking a chisel to some of the winter crud
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