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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 11-27-07, 07:49 PM   #1
zeroderby
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snow problem

I commute about 10kms to work, this week we have snow. The snow is too soft, mushy and full of tire tracks to ride in on the right. I had to ride toward the middle of the road which means the cars end up waiting and gunning it past me when they have an opening, what do you all do in this situation? I am in Edmonton Alberta if any of you locals have any advice?

I have only been commuting since July and have really enjoyed it until today. Maybe it is time commute part time until the conditions are better.

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Old 11-27-07, 07:58 PM   #2
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I do exactly as you did. I ride as far to the right as possible without getting into the stuff that could make me lose control. If people have to wait, then they have to wait. I prefer to stay out of the way but if I can't then I can't.
I've been riding this route so much (every weekday for 3 years), I think most people on that route know me and realize that I normally stay out of their way.
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Old 11-27-07, 08:06 PM   #3
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I commute about 10kms to work, this week we have snow. The snow is too soft, mushy and full of tire tracks to ride in on the right. I had to ride toward the middle of the road which means the cars end up waiting and gunning it past me when they have an opening, what do you all do in this situation? I am in Edmonton Alberta if any of you locals have any advice?

I have only been commuting since July and have really enjoyed it until today. Maybe it is time commute part time until the conditions are better.

Mike
The most important thing is that you do what safety dictates. Along with bikes, cars have to contend with tractors, slow moving construction machinery, etc. All have rights to the road. Just be as considerate as possible. If there are cars waiting behind you and you come to a spot where it's clear on the right, move over and let them pass.
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Old 11-27-07, 09:40 PM   #4
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Just give salt/sand spreaders some extra space, that stuff stings when you get pelted with it.
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Old 11-27-07, 09:47 PM   #5
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Ride in the middle of the road when need be. Aggressive drivers can of course make this annoying. A rearview mirror (reminds me I need to replace mine after it broke) is helpful for keeping an eye on potential threatening ones. Make sure of course you are visible, at night I usually wear a reflective vest in the crappy weather, plus a bright taillight on the bike and one on the helmet too.

I often find turning my head and looking at them seems to calm them down a little bit, as if they forget there is a human there. Pointing to the snowy/icy bank and shrugging? If I see a spot where I can move over to help facilitate passing I'll do that as well since it just makes life go smoother.

Picking a route with multilanes is best because drivers can easily pass you. On a narrower street, I've had an aggressive driver drive up over a snowbank, on to the sidewalk (totally spraying me with slush by the way) in order to get to the stop sign at the end of the street a second or two faster.
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Old 11-27-07, 09:49 PM   #6
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I take the right tire track. Oddly, motorists seem rather sympathetic to this plight. Mostly. Then again, urban feeder streets only grind along at about 15mph at those times, so it's a wash for all.
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Old 11-27-07, 10:06 PM   #7
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I take the lane. I always find that if I give a car a little space it ends up getting far too close, and in a few cases I have been hit by mirrors on the car. I also find that in snowy conditions a higher cadence is necessary, if you can just keep pedalling you can usually work through the snow.
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Old 11-28-07, 12:24 AM   #8
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pulling over

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If there are cars waiting behind you and you come to a spot where it's clear on the right, move over and let them pass.
Thanks, for some reason I had never thought to pull over and let them pass, I think I will try this tomorrow and see how that feels. I wouldn't have to do it very often.
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Old 11-28-07, 12:43 AM   #9
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The most important thing is that you do what safety dictates. Along with bikes, cars have to contend with tractors, slow moving construction machinery, etc. All have rights to the road. Just be as considerate as possible. If there are cars waiting behind you and you come to a spot where it's clear on the right, move over and let them pass.
Most excellent post. I soooo advocate our rights to the road, but oh, boy - come on - there are times that we all have to be safe - and bad weather is the biggest condition. I HAVE pulled over for cars - and yes - the looks I got from some of them were not kind. GET OFF THE ROAD! WOW, I think I held them up ... Hmmmmmmm..... .788888855 seconds (good grief). But I do know at those times - WOW when you are really holding up traffic due to those sloppy conditions - HELL, pull over or trigger off to a side route. Just be safe!!!

Every year, I keep changing how I winter ride, what I winter ride with - the route I ride - and when do I NOT ride.

I'm trying to minimlize my bus trips - but I need to be safe - and yet be a bicyclist on the road who does have rights. First and foremost - BE SAFE!!


Here's to safe rides, my friends!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-28-07, 09:59 AM   #10
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I pulled over twice today, it felt ok so I guess I will do that from now on when I can. My only problem with that is it might leave the impression that bikes should always pull over.

Thanks.

Mike
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Old 11-28-07, 11:15 AM   #11
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There is no shame in not riding your bike in the snow if you feel it is unsafe or dangerous.

A lot of posters on this forum will ride their bike in almost every road conditions. I do salute them for that, but it may give you the impression that it is a simple thing to do and that you are some kind of second class rider if you don't ride all winter.
In reality it all depends how you perceive conditions. And that has to do with your skills, your bike, where you ride, your willingness to take risks, etc.
I intend to ride thru most of the winter, but I am sure that there will be days I decide to take public transportation based on road conditions.
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Old 11-28-07, 12:20 PM   #12
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I pulled over twice today, it felt ok so I guess I will do that from now on when I can. My only problem with that is it might leave the impression that bikes should always pull over.

Thanks.

Mike
In general, slower moving traffic on a 2-lane road is supposed to pull over occasionally if blocking a line of traffic. In some areas that's law, in others it's etiquette. That goes for farm equipment, horses, and bikes. Trust me, if the goal is to engender better driver/cyclist relationships, stopping up traffic for a half mile to prove a point isn't the best way.
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Old 11-28-07, 01:01 PM   #13
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Slap on some studded tires, and own that road!!!!

or at least thats what I do when it gets to be like that. I'll ride in the right tire track, and if enough cars start beeping at me, I'll pull over for a bit and let the line shoot past me before moving back into the tire track.
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Old 11-28-07, 02:12 PM   #14
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In general, slower moving traffic on a 2-lane road is supposed to pull over occasionally if blocking a line of traffic. In some areas that's law, in others it's etiquette. That goes for farm equipment, horses, and bikes. Trust me, if the goal is to engender better driver/cyclist relationships, stopping up traffic for a half mile to prove a point isn't the best way.
I heartily agree. That's the whole reason for turnouts and special passing lanes on mountainous roads.

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cour·te·sy /ˈkɜrtəsi or, for 5, ˈkɜrtsi/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[kur-tuh-see or, for 5, kurt-see] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation noun, plural -sies, adjective
–noun
1. excellence of manners or social conduct; polite behavior.
2. a courteous, respectful, or considerate act or expression.
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Old 11-28-07, 02:32 PM   #15
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I commute 10 mi. downhill on a snowy two-lane mountain road in Colorado. Thankfully, there isn't much traffic since I-70 occupies the lower two spaces on this terraced mountainside. So riding as close to the shoulder as safety allows hasn't been a problem for me.

However, I always hear people mention knobby tires in association with snowy commuting. My understanding was wider (inevitably), knobby tires were good for ATB stuff since they provide a certain buoyancy in muddy conditions. I ride on 700x32c Kenda EuroTrek's, which have a mildly aggressive tread for shedding moisture, but are rather thin. From chatting with various people, this thin profile results in more pressure under the tires (P=Force/Area), allowing the bike to cut down through the slush/snow to the asphalt below.

Am I wrong in understanding this?
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Old 11-28-07, 02:40 PM   #16
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I have some nokians with quite large nobs, not sure which model. When the snow is deep I don't reach the asphalt so the studs don't help me. They do help once it is packed down.

This was me this morning.

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Old 11-28-07, 10:47 PM   #17
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I commute about 10kms to work, this week we have snow. The snow is too soft, mushy and full of tire tracks to ride in on the right. I had to ride toward the middle of the road which means the cars end up waiting and gunning it past me when they have an opening, what do you all do in this situation? I am in Edmonton Alberta if any of you locals have any advice?

Welcome to Bike Forums from another winter riding Edmontonian... I'm the guy on the blue and silver Kuwahara fixed gear... LOL.

If the side of the road is impassable then you can one of two things...ride in the lane (which is what I do most often) or take the sidewalk for a spell. From talking with EPS they will not ticket you for riding your bike on the sidewalk in the winter and in some residential areas this is the only way to make it through. You do have to slow down and exercise extreme caution at intersections and keep an eye out for pedestrians.

I volunteer at the Bicycle Commuters Society and we will be holding another winter riding workshop which is free for anyone who wants to come and discuss riding strategies, ask some veteran riders how they manage and sip some tasty chai.

One fo the ways to get through the mushy slush is run studded tires (I run a front studded tire) and make sure you maintain speed / momentum as slowing down will make it easier to crash... if you mojtain bike then you know that maintaining speed through the sketchy stuff is key and the same applies to winter riding.

PM me if you want to know anything else about the workshop or just to say hello.
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Old 11-29-07, 03:00 PM   #18
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I pulled over twice today, it felt ok so I guess I will do that from now on when I can. My only problem with that is it might leave the impression that bikes should always pull over.
Not really, it's a 'slower vehicles' thing, not a 'bike' thing. Slow moving RV's, farm equipment, and the like are supposed to do the same. Here, you can be ticketed for having six cars behind you, regardless of what you are riding or driving.
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Old 11-30-07, 07:52 AM   #19
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Now that I think about it, if I were driving my car slower than the traffic around me I would pull over, even if it was just one car waiting for me.
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Old 11-30-07, 09:41 AM   #20
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I have some nokians with quite large nobs, not sure which model. When the snow is deep I don't reach the asphalt so the studs don't help me. They do help once it is packed down.

This was me this morning.

Studs good. 95+% of the time they only slow you down, but that last 5% makes them priceless. Even with studs, there are some days -- usually icy -- that I just take the T (light rail around here).

Might I add, you look fantastic.
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