Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Biking After A Blizzard

First Blizzard of the Season

Heck, yeah! I'm riding!

Technically, the blizzard was overnight, and while there were still 30 MPH winds in the morning, the snow had stopped and most of the blowing snow had settled. There were still some wicked drifts and plow wakes on the neighborhood and side streets. I don't think it was ever warmer than 10 degrees Fahrenheit.

AM Commute

There was lots of pushing in the neighborhoods and side streets. It took me about 30 minutes to go 2 miles.

PM Commute

I only had to dismount once, and riding on the main streets was pretty easy. It took me 15 minutes to go 2 miles.

I halfway considered taking the bus home, but as the day went on, MAT kept pushing back the time they were going to resume service. Finally they announced that they weren't going to run any buses. So much for dependable public transportation.


Here are some photos I took in the morning and around lunch time. You'll notice the large wakes in the center lanes. The city is experimenting with pushing snow to the center to ease parking and pedestrian access to sidewalks. I think it's working, but it seemed to make for some awkward moments when traffic needed to move from one side of the street to the other.

Cycling home on Farnam Street, also with a huge wake in the middle, made me believe that the one way street might serve better as a two way street, especially if there were bike lanes along either side.


Anonymous said...

Saddle Creek sure wasn't plowed to the center. I had to cancel my trek to No Frills because of it.

Sean said...

Nice pics and video man. Any wipe outs?

Scott Redd said...

Vernon: It's certainly not the best weather and conditions to be riding, and some streets are better than others. While I can control my bike pretty well, it's the heavy, sliding cars that worry me the most.

Sean: I did not ever get fast enough to worry about a wipe out. I had to step off the pedals every now and again, but at a slow speed, it's no bid deal.

I think that I still expended less energy cycling today than I would have spent digging my truck out, and cycling is way more fun.

I just hope there aren't any walking parts tomorrow. I'd prefer to keep pedaling.

SS:Mtn Biker said...

You guys definately got more snow/cold than we did in Virginia this past week! This was a really cool post (more ways than one,LOL!),I really dug the vid. Mad props for being out on the bik,Bro :)


munsoned said...

Doh! Alright that does it. I'm mounting the studded tires tonight and riding tomorrow. I've been giving MAT buses some business as I too worry about sliding cars. Plus I had a whopper of a cold that made it hard to just breath, let alone pedal/push a bike through snow. Tomorrow, I will make it though.

Thanks for being an inspiration, Scott.

brady said...

I'm envious. Good post Scott.

The Douglas said...

Bravo Scott! Great video and photos.

Share with us your Bike and Tire setup. What bike and what sort of tire were you running.

Downtown appears in much better shape than the burbs. Most side streets are untouched by plows and have deep ruts from cars/trucks that travel through. Cycling through them isn't bad. The problem I have is the narrowing of streets and no sidewalk area as a back-up I get pinched off. Most two lane roads are not plowed their full width so two cars can barely pass one another head-on, let alone two cars and a bike, but I've been holding my lane until there's a gap then giving motorists a chance to pass. Even some 4-lane roads are narrowed down to 2. I'd say 90% or more of sidewalks and paths remain uncleared.

And just as an FYI...if someone (or a business) hasn't cleared their walkway within the 24-hour limit call 444-5955 or 444-5920 to report it. I've never done this in residential areas, but when businesses go for days without clearing their sidewalks/paths I call and report it as well as send letters to the businesses requesting they obey the snow removal laws.

erik said...

nice photos scott.

I am shocked to learn that bus services were canceled that night -- i can only imagine how that impacted the poorest of the city on a night that was far too cold to get back from a day job to their home. that is really poor practice on the part of the administration, you can't "cancel" public transit without 24 hr notice. I wonder where some people ended up that night as a result...

Scott Redd said...

Thanks for the comments, SSMTB, Munson, The D, Brady and Erik.

Munson: Did you make it out in the snow?

Erik: You're right. Omaha can't legitimately play in the space of a "world class city" without more effort to remove snow from roads, trails, and without providing consistent public transit. What does that mean to us? More taxes? I'm not sure how this works.

The D: This year my snow bike is a Specialized Tricross Comp with 35mm Nokian studded tires. I put on quick-release Planet Bike strap-on fenders. They don't provide full coverage, but they keep most of the slop off of me and off of the bike. I also tried waxing the chain to see if that helps with the grime.

Last year I rode my Trek 7300 hybrid and found it very stable in the snow and ice. Its upright seating position and flat handlebars seemed to really help with handling.

The jury's still out on that for the Tricross. I've got interrupter brake levers on the flat part of the bar, so I can ride without having to sit on the hoods or the drops, but I lose a little bit of leverage, since the interrupter levers are pretty close to the stem.

The 54 cm frame is a little small for me (6 ft), I think, but that combined with the compact CX geometry of the Tricross seems to make this bike easy to maneuver in traffic, and quickly mount and dismount when the need arises.

Another plus for the Tricross over the 7300 is weight. It's considerably lighter than the hybrid, and the flat underside of the top tube makes it easy to pick up this bike to carry over snow drifts and wakes. It's also easy to push. :)

erik said...

i don't know about taxes--certainly all transit organizations are strapped for cash as monies are diverted to street infrastructure maintainence efforts. it seems like the main issue is that nobody considered the effect such a decision has on the user population, or didn't care. i'd hope for the former, i know that public transit agencies are taken to court for far less elsewhere--this is a pretty bad show. snow should be cleared from bus routes, and if that means no work can be done on neighborhood streets for some time, so be it.

i'd be interested to see emergency medical records for the evening, to see if anyone was picked up on the side of the road from hypothermia...

RD said...

eric i bet you it's less then people who were treated for cardiac issues during the storm

The Douglas said...

Scott: We're getting together to ride on the 21st (Monday) if you'd like to join us. The official ride blog is here