Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Studded snow tires

I'm not talking about BIKE studded snow tires, but rather MOTOR VEHICLE studded snow tires.

One of the nice things about this time of year, from an Idaho transportation-cyclist standpoint, is that studded snow tires are illegal on Idaho roadways after April 30. Except for fire trucks, oddly. The rules are HERE.

There are some places in Idaho's high country, and in the eastern half of the state, where studs might make sense in April or September... but certainly not in Boise. I question whether they're needed at all in Boise. I've lived here essentially my whole life, and I've bought two studded tires total... back in the 70s. They might help on our 1 or 2 weeks each year when there's actually ice on the roads. But skillful and careful driving is far more significant than studs, in preventing accidents.

What's my objection to studs?

Besides tearing up the roads - which is why the State mandates that they be removed for the fair-weather months - they are noisy!!

Transportation cycling is an inherenty quiet mode of transportation, but transportation cyclists are victimized by NOISE pollution as well as internal combustion pollution and dirt-thrown-up-into-the-air pollution.

Yeah, I know... whine, whine, whine!

(Or maybe it would be better described as a loud clatter. You can hear 'em - those studded tires - from a block away. Of course the drivers don't hear 'em so much - they have their windows rolled up and their climate control and radio blasting.)


dvicci said...

Sure, it's loud, but is that necessarily a bad thing? After all, if you can hear the car coming, you at least have some warning before becoming a hood ornament.

It's the same with recent observations regarding the relative quiet of hybrid vehicles and car/pedestrian "interaction". Pedestrians can't hear the cars, and thus lose a big part of their situational awareness.

That said... the sound of a huge and loud truck coming up behind me while I'm tooling about on two wheels never fails to raise, if temporarily, my anxiety.

Bikeboy said...

You make an excellent point, dvicci!

Indeed the sound of approaching vehicles is invaluable, in making the cyclist aware of potential danger.

I, too, have heard that Priuses and such (Prii?) have caused consternation for blind folks and others who depend on vehicle noise.

It's also troublesome to me when I see cyclists who voluntarily surrender part or all of their sense of hearing, by plugging in the earbuds. I've commented on it HERE and other places.

Yeah, I suppose those grinding carbide studs can sound the warning loud and clear. (Even a Prius is plenty noisy with studded tires installed!)

Just the same, I prefer the relative quiet swish of classic rubber tires for my warning. (And not those "mudder" pickup tires that howl like a lemur!) And of course, the rear-view mirror? I never ride without it! (Visual and Audio - it's a good system!)

Thanks for the good comment.

bob t said...

I second Bikeboy's mirror recommendation. Using one I can SEE motor vehicles approaching from behind much sooner than I can hear them. Better yet, a mirror allows me to KNOW what they are doing rather than just guessing.

Clancy said...

I used to have studded tire growing up in McCall but find no use for them now around town and up to Bogus. Now I just have studs on my bike ;)

I would like to have a mirror on my helmet but never found one that works on my helmet. I use a handle bar end one now.