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Thread: Snowplow Trucks

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    Snowplow Trucks

    This year I am set up to ride through the worst the winter has to offer, as far as the weather is concerned. Yesterday, I encountered a new man-made foe. Snowplow trucks.

    I have two options for my commute: 1) A 40mph road with a shoulder wide enough to be a second lane. 2) Slower, hillier residential roads with no shoulder.

    On the 40mph road, the town snowplow trucks work in pairs, clearing the travel lane and the shoulder at about 30mph. As this road has long stretches between intersections and side roads, there is no escape from the plows other than riding off the shoulder and down an embankment. This would lead to a crash getting buried in snow.

    On the residential streets, I figure I can duck into driveways when I hear a plow coming. On these streets, I will have to take the lane for my entire commute. Even after plowing, there is not enough room for a car and bike to share the lane. I'm OK with taking the lane under normal conditions, but wonder about the safety of doing so while it is actively snowing on winding roads that don't always offer long lines of sight. Will motorists even consider that a biker might be on the road?

    So, my question: For those of you who commute over similar roads, how do you deal with motor traffic, especially snowplow trucks?

  2. #2
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    Take the lane.


    Edit: My answer was unintentionally self important...
    Last edited by flipped4bikes; 12-04-07 at 12:46 PM.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

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    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by flipped4bikes View Post
    Take the lane.
    +1 - the 40mph road with the plows operating as you describe is not safe.

    You are a vehicle, your job is to stay safe, take the lane.

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    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by modernjess View Post
    ...
    You are a vehicle, your job is to stay safe, take the lane.
    +1
    Last edited by markhr; 12-04-07 at 12:28 PM.
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    I knew that would be the answer. Like I said, I'm OK with taking the lane and making drivers go around. My biggest concern is that drivers will be so distracted by the conditions and so oblivious to the idea of biking in the snow that they won't be able to figure out what I am in time to slow down properly. I have lights, reflectors, and a vest that are visible from behind. I've never had problems at night under non-snowy conditions. With time, I'm sure I'll feel comfortable. There are just a lot of new variables and that I don't have experience with yet.

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    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    I can identify. My commute home takes me through residential streets that have not yet been cleared "curb to curb" since the last snowfall. I don't like riding down the middle of the road but the traffic is light and I'll move aside (and even stop if necessary) to let traffic buy if I feel I'm being too much of an obstacle.
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    well


    get the hell out of the road and let the plow through.

    it is a hard enough job to avoid
    everything else and the last thing a plow operator needs is you in his way.

    use your head. stop, get off the road, let the plows go by, then go back to riding.

    for chrissakes it is only when it snows. sheesh.

    take self-importance down a notch and let people
    do their jobs
    ---------

    as for any and all non-plowing traffic, stay your lane and hog the road if you need to, it isn't your
    fault the road is narrower. just prepare to bail, but you own the road, so look the drivers in the
    eye and let them know you are there and aware

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    The best dumbash motorist in a snow storm stunt I've seen was a guy who passed me and a plow truck in a blizzard, there were inches of snow on the road BEHIND the plow and the driving was still a little dicy, which is why the truck was taking it easy. But this guy behind me couldn't stand the though of going 25 mph and went tearing on ahead, I could see him fish tailing up ahead for quite a ways. Sure enough around the next bend at the bottom of a hill there he was, rear bumper in the air in a ditch.

    The point of my story: ride behind the truck it's the cleanest the street will be until the snow stops. Also with all the lights and what not maybe you'll be safer from the other drivers.

  9. #9
    ROM 6:23 flipped4bikes's Avatar
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    I don't thinking anyone is advocating taking the lane until we feel like letting a plow go by. When it is safe to pull all the way off the road and out of the plows reach and the snow it's pushing, then by all means, stop.

    BTW, when I first posted, I was half kidding.
    Every time we let a vehicle pass there is a little bit of compromise. But compromise allows the city to function and allows cyclists to function in the city. The trick is not to eliminate compromise but to learn how to work safely within it.

    --Robert Hurst

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    Burn-em Upus Icephaltus Gojohnnygo.'s Avatar
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    Plow operators are working on overtime they might be a little sleepy. They have to watch out for the size of their plow in both lanes, They have to past threw all that snow flying up from the plow, They have this thing called a wing on their plow that can stick out 15 feet from the trucks sides. If the wing of the plow gets you? They will find your body in the spring after the snow melts. The best reason to avoid them is if they are running the sander/Salter in the back it hurts like crazy to be hit with that stuff. I say let them pass or take the side streets.
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    Let the plow by, then take the lane. Honestly if the road isn't very busy, you should be able to hear the trucks coming in time to move over to the LEFT shoulder and stop until they go by. I have been SKIING on roads in the past and had to let plows by (10 miles and saw nothing but those 2 plows - there was a HECK of a lot of snow that day and everyone just stayed inside).

    As far as cars, have a metric buttload of lights on your bike. Xenon strobes, four PB Superflashes, 18" reflective triangles, UFOs hovering behind you with lasers shooting out, whatever it takes to make you confident that Joe Moron in his SUV going 20 MPH too fast around a curve with a 12-inch spot that he scraped in the ice on his windshield to squint through will figure out that there's something he should be watching out for up there.

    I use a combo xenon strobe, a Cateye LD1000 on steady x 2, and a PB Superflash set on "epileptic fit". Thinking about a Nova Bull. But I'm on straight roads. YMMV.
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    ^^ Yup.

    Dive left or into a drive way and let 'em pass. It'll make everyone's day easier (including yours).
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    For a snowplow truck I would likely stop and get off the road. Often the plow won't throw the snow off the road at slow speeds, and I sure don't want one passing me throwing snow.
    Not too much to say here

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    Quote Originally Posted by bike2math View Post
    Sure enough around the next bend at the bottom of a hill there he was, rear bumper in the air in a ditch.
    Was Darwin invoked in this scenario at all?

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    You make it sound like you're on the 40mph road for quite a bit of time. After all, a plow does not go down the street every 15 minutes. Chances are slim that you and they will be on that stretch of road at the same time. Unless of course you ride straight down that road for 45 minutes each morning, after a snowfall.

    Take the wider lane (40mph) and scoot over as much as you can should the improbable happen and the plows should actually be out at the same time as you.
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    I would take the safest route, although not sure which one seems safer.

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    "Per Ardua ad Surly" nelson249's Avatar
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    Aside from municipal or provincial snow ploughs, there is the problem of snow clearing businesses or ordinary people attaching ploughs to the front of pick up trucks. Sometimes they forget their there when they pass cyclists. Another good reason for a mirror.
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