Monday, December 15, 2008

Cars slippin' and slidin'

I mostly adhere to John Forester's assertion that "cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as drivers of vehicles."

The only time I ever call that into question is when there's crusty, frozen snow and slush in the gutter pans, and I'm in the traffic lane on my bicycle going 15mph, and an impatient motorist is bearing down on me from behind at 25mph. Or tailgating me and revving the engine.

In fact, if it weren't for cars, winter bicycling would be nearly as enjoyable as any other time of year.

Yesterday (Sunday, 12/14), I accumulated about 7 miles of bicycle riding on fresh-fallen or snowpacked neighborhood roads, with essentially no motor-vehicle interaction. It was fantastic!

Last night it looked pretty obvious that the snow is here to stay, at least for a few days. So, I took off the "skinny" (28mm) tires, and put on the "fat" (35mm, with tread) tires for the season.

This morning (Monday, 12/15) I rode up the street to the bus stop, thinking if it was brutal, I'd catch the bus on in to the office. It wasn't too bad, so I forged ahead.

I like to think that my life and health are more important to my fellow citizens, than 5 seconds of their commute time. But sometimes I don't see much evidence of that notion. (And the news coverage, mostly showing pickup trucks and SUVs lying smashed and upside-down, doesn't give me a lot of confidence in the skill and good judgment of those people I'm sharing the road with.) So maybe when the roads are treacherous, I'd prefer separated bike/pedestrian paths, just as a matter of survival.


Anonymous said...

My experience so far has been generally positive. As the bike lanes where I ride have become unusable (even with 45mm studded tires) I've been taking the right tire track of whatever road I happen to be on and the motorists that I've encountered seem to be taking care to pass me safely. We'll see if this continues....

db said...

I had to drive Monday due to a meeting, and I drove in today (Tuesday) because of the driving and bike-lane blockage that I'd seen on Monday.

Will get back on the bike tomorrow, though. Can anyone report conditions on the greenbelt? I'll probably use that for more of my commute for the rest of the week.

Anonymous said...

db, as of Sunday afternoon the main greenbelt path had been plowed but the extension to the bench had not. I haven't used it since but I imagine that it's still icy in places.

Clancy said...

I have been hugging the edge of most lanes. I also take some back streets. They are solid snow or ice but smooth and way fewer cars. I bucked my self yesterday in some crud and nearly ended up going down.

I am on the hunt for some studs if I can find them cheaply. Somebody at said the Evil Empire (Walmart) may have them.

Anonymous said...

Clancy, another local source for studded tires would be Steve Parrish of Dirt Dart Mobile Bike Service. I think that they run about $30 each but I'm not certain. I use a different brand of studded tire so I can't vouch for the quality of the ones that Steve sells.

Jimbo said...

Bike tires direct has a good selection and they are quick to ship to boise about two or three days. I bought some nokians used last year they are heavy but worth it. Havn't had to drive yet. My VW van isn't as good on ice as my bike. Funny the bike is worth more than the van. Guess my priorties are in order. Have fun and be safe!

db said...

Thanks for the tip on Dirt Dart. After this morning's slip-n-slide ride, I'm ready to try studded tires, but Nokians are expensive.

Nashbar wrote me last month to tell me that they will have Nashbar-brand studded tires, but I don't see any on their site right now.

So I'll happily call Steve. $30 or close to it would be a steal.

Also need to figure out how to keep my fingers warm at 10 degrees. The lobster claws + liners didn't cut it this morning. Any tips on this are much appreciated. My 35-minute commute took 50 minutes this morning.