Who is crazier driving on roads?🚗 Or 🚴?

You see it every winter. Lines of cars tailgating at high speed on icy roads and drivers wearing no helmets.

Everybody is doing it. Must be safe, right?


Then come the silly comments. You must be brave (cycling on icy roads).

I have 608 studs on the bicycle tires. I have tire chains for deep snow (I can ride in 6″ of snow. The combination of tire chains and studs are the best grip you can have on winter bicycles. The bike is AWD. It is a heavy bike at around 76-100lbs plus the weight of the driver. There is about 300 lbs of weight on a few square inches of tire that provided an impressive amount of traction. I have throttle control over the front wheel. In dicy situations, pedalling the rear wheel provides a lot of stability and control. In deep snow, I’ll use just enough throttle for the front wheel to pull itself through the snow and produce most of the power pedalling because the rear tire carries more weight and has better traction.

Top speed in winter is about 30kph on ice. Sometimes I’ll drop the tire pressure down to 25-30psi if cycling in car tracks or on loose snow mixed with packed snow and ice. This allows all the tire studs to be in contact with the ground, including studs on the sides of the tires. The flat contour of a half deflated tire means cycling in car tracks won’t cause it to slide.

When the bike slides, I’ll shift into neutral to let the tires regain grip and proceed at a slower speed. The faster the speed, the more traction is needed to control the bicycle. I wear a bicycle helmet unless its below -20C when I’ll wear a lamb’s wool hat to stay warm. I’ll wear extra clothes, carry tools, water and food plus lights and batteries.

Driving on ice is way more dangerous. No studded tires. No tire chains. Top speed with car tire chains is about 50kph, far too slow for impatient drivers. Tire chains tend to shred at fast speeds and when they break loose, they can do a lot of damage so people don’t use tire chains much on cars.

The false perception of safety in cars creates an embellished sense of courage. Within inches of a driver’s head is steel and glass. While a cyclist may wear a helmet, drivers do not. The result is about half of all brain injuries happen inside cars. Cyclists only about a 10% risk, or 1/5th that of drivers.

A driver’s safety is concerned more with driving as fast as possible rather than reducing speed like a cyclist would in slippery conditions. Drivers love to tail gate on icy roads, waiting for the first person to spin out who then sets up a chain reaction of crashes.

Sometimes the driver gambles with how much traction the car has. Much of the feedback from the car has been engineered out to make cars feel safer than they are. On old vehicles you knew you were on ice when you had power steering on a car that doesn’t have power steering. Many of the warning signals in new cars that could tell you there is ice on the road, have been engineered away.

When a car suddenly looses traction, drivers tend to slam on all 4 brakes or stomp on the gas. You can’t use more traction than what is available. As they spin out of control, veer across the median into traffic approaching at over 200kph, you’re fucked or dead. Rather than slowing down like a cyclist would, they speed up and gamble their lives away.

The whole point is not cars vs bikes. Its about each vehicle working differently than the other. With those differences come different decisions like slowing down verses speeding up. Like driving according to conditions, not speed limits. Like following a long distance behind rather than tailgate.

When it comes to common sense, its not about who is smart or dumb, its about doing the same things other people are doing which will cause you the same problems. Some problems you can live with, some you can’t. Don’t let the peer pressure to drive fast like an idiot, make you dead like an idiot. Its your decision!


Benefits of Bicycle Snowplows:

Bicycle Snowplows can:

…respond faster to local community needs.

…plow more frequently and this is to our advantage in maintaining a superior quality of snow removal. The higher the frequency of plowing, the lower the risk of pathways icing up and creating liability issues.

…be an immediate solution for new pathways, for which no plowing schedule has been determined or is likely to be determined for many decades.

…are well suited for low traffic pathways. They are currently the only workable solution to unplowed pathways in Calgary.

Since 2014, only 50 more kms of pathways were plowed. At that rate, the 400 kms of unplowed pathways will not be plowed in my lifetime.

1 person with a bicycle snowplow can plow 1% of the unplowed pathways part time in a year with higher than average snowfall.

Bicycle Snowplows promote an active lifestyle and create a higher standard of living which is especially important in cities with high real estate and parking costs like Calgary. With retirement incomes dropping, many of us will not be able to afford the car centric lifestyle in retirement years.

Bicycle snowplowing is a way to increase the number of people using pathways all winter.

Ebike motors extend the capabilities of bicycle snowplows in difficult snow conditions. The motors allow balancing the power between the front and rear wheels to maximize traction.

A 3 foot wide plow pulled by an ebike could easily plow 50kms of sidewalks in several inches of snow.

A 5 foot bicycle snowplow or larger plow on an e-bike could handle typical Calgary snowfalls on pathways.

Has removing Snow from Pathways Been Condemned by Calgary Parks?

If we don’t solve a problem the first time it comes around, it comes back years later and people may not realize the two events are the same problem.

I had no idea Calgarians had plowed pathways with bicycles, or that this was the reason why we have plowed pathways today. I also did not know that Parks had sent these early Snow Angels into exile by sending Bylaw Officers out to chase them down. When I began looking into the idea of bicycle snowplowing, it was because the same problem still existed 25 years later. I doubt the remaining 400 kms of pathways will ever be plowed in my lifetime, not because it is impossible, but because of institutional thinking. If you are the guy waiting for the last kilometer to be plowed, you still had to find a way to plow them yourself.

The reason for not plowing pathways is always the same… there are not enough people using them. The reason people don’t use them is because many of Calgary’s pathways are left in such a disgraceful condition that they are not safe to use.

In one winter, I had built 3 plows that solved the plowing problem of my unplowed pathway. I already have a solution for bicycle plows that will enable plowing in whatever depth of snow a bicycle can be ridden in. I have augmented bicycles with traction aids commonly used on automobiles and plows, studded tires and tire chains. The plows can be pulled with a waist strap while walking or running, too.

Parks has said it is legal to bike on rutted and iced up pathways but that removing snow from a pathway even with a shovel is illegal. This is a policy that concerns itself with abusing the public’s best interests. If we want people to live in cities and pay high housing costs and taxes, we have to stop making excuses for abandoned winter pathways and condemning anyone who wants to volunteer to keep them serviceable. It seems that the policy has become one in which if the City of Calgary won’t plow pathways, no one else can either.

There was little opposition to building thousands of miles of rural roads to allow people to drive from their homes, onto secondary highways, then onto major highways into Calgary. If we had used the same argument that there are not enough people in the country to justify building roads, we would probably have considered snowmobiles to be far more practical than a car in winter.

Unlike Calgary, cities where pathways are always cleared by city plows do not develop bicycle snowplows. Cycling and walking were adopted by a large majority of the population in places like the Netherlands as the preferred kind of transportation in winters that are twice as long as our’s. The fact that Calgary developed bicycle snowplows where other cities didn’t speaks about how important winter exercise is here.

If we have to pay for everything cities provide, we couldn’t afford it. The early bicycle snowplowers recognized that the only way they could afford to have pathways plowed was to do it themselves and for their communities free of charge. In a recession, cities can’t afford to be picky about where the help comes from to balance their budgets. In my community, the worst sidewalks and pathways have consistently been beside and in parks.

I have been told that hotel owners who built the Airport Trail Pathway on THEIR property beside THEIR business are breaking the law when they plow and salt it. The pathway does not belong to the city and is still the responsibility of the developer. It is not uncommon in cities for property owners to be dictated to by city policies except when there are very large developments like destroying the Harvest Hills Golf Course in order to rake in huge profits for the city through massive increases in density at the destruction of green spaces. Its one of the trade-offs of living in cities.

So while there is a bylaw requirement for the pathways and sidewalks beside business and residential properties like the hotel along Airport Trail, I was told the hotel owners were being told to quit plowing the pathway. The irony is that the city has been plowing that pathway to clear sidewalks near the hotels.

Utility vehicles use the pathway in the winter to access power poles, cave in the pavement and ice up the pathway. Right of way permits allow heavy vehicles to drive on pavement which is only built to support walking and cycling. The pathway was so damaged from these heavy trucks it had to be repaved last year. This year, a crane sank through the pathway during the summer and the pathway has still not been repaired. The Airport Trail Pathway has about 2” of pavement and sits on top of a swamp. Even though the city knows that 2 inches of asphalt won’t support the weight of automobiles, they still build pathways and allow automobiles to destroy them.

New pathways are continually being built with no plowing schedule but some high traffic pathways are regularly plowed. This creates benefits for areas of higher density or preferred routes but makes winter cycling largely impractical for commuters because they need predictable snowplowing practises.

A few years ago, I tried to cycle to Chestermere during the winter. A ride that would have taken 4 hours would have taken two days in the winter. Tire tracks on the pathway allowed me to reach 50 Ave SE at which point it was so late in the day that I had to abandon the attempt. Nearby communities are not the only victims of unplowed pathways. Cycle tracks and transportation hubs like the airport are also affected.

This year a WestJet pilot who hauls tools in a bicycle trailer was hit on 96 ave by a careless driver. The pilot was knocked unconscious, bicycle and trailer destroyed. I was the only person who had plowed the pathway so he could use it instead of the road. Lives are at risk when pathways aren’t plowed.

It seems as if not allowing people to choose something better like allowing Snow Angels to clear snow off pathways amounts to a thinly concealed plan for failure. When institutional thinking takes over, the process of controlling the public becomes more important than the benefits. When allowed to continue unchecked, this institutional thinking creates a pessimism that things won’t change for the better.

Things I wanted to say at cycle track debate but ran out of time.

I have a class 1-6 driver’s license so I think my perception is also going to be less biased when comparing cycle tracks to driving.

If I had a choice, I’d choose cycle tracks to go downtown or not bother if I have to drive. I haven’t shopped much downtown until cycle tracks.

Trying to assert safety on a bicycle doesn’t work. Its primarily a driving issue in my experience and from statistics I’ve seen. I don’t take any less care on cycletracks. The separation adds a measure of safety and adding cycling infrastructure has been shown to make roads safer for everyone.

For a 35 km round trip, the biggest challenge is being able to connect to cycletracks in winter. The unplowed pathways where I commute are very dangerous in winter.

I use 5st,7st, and 12 ave. An 11st SW cycletrack would be something I’d use more than 8th ave.

For me its not bikes vs cars. Its about equalizing the rights of cyclists and bringing them up to par with other modes so we can get to the same places.

I hope we will have specific questions in the next consensus as to why people chose to use cycletracks.

I would ask why are we not considering bicycle snowplows to clear cycletracks and pathways more frequently with lower costs during the recession.

Bicycles raise the Standard of living and are the majority of vehicles used worldwide. This is important in retirement years as housing costs increase and income decreases. It keeps people from living on the street.

To understand what improvements happen with cycletracks, we only need to look at places where it is a common mode of transportation. In the Netherlands. Bikes now outnumber car trips.

No more room to add more roads DT. So we have to consider that space is a resource too. Cycletracks allow higher traffic counts in less space.

Noticed less aggression from drivers since cycletracks began.

One of the big changes as a direct result of cycle tracks is not feeling I have to compete with the speed of cars to be safe.

Safety issue: drivers turning across cycle tracks without shoulder checking when they slow down to turn. Mandatory stops before crossing cycle tracks would help via cycle track censor controlled lights.

Most people don’t seem to realize they need to stop before crossing sidewalks and look before going through crosswalks. Assuming its safe to blast through cycletracks without looking first is very dangerous.

I’m wondering if we can address the issue of people walking on cycletracks for a whole block when sidewalk is almost empty.

Cycletracks provide a safe separation between bikes, cars and peds. To say its just for cyclists is a weak argument in my opinion.

Regarding secure bike racks… Could we look at bike racks that only require a padlock to secure bikes along the cycletracks? Carrying heavy locks and chains is a deterent. Cable locks are cut too easily. I have a long way to go home so security is an issue. Its the main reason that I don’t linger downtown. Bike racks that are visible from inside a business is where I spend my time.

I’m glad Calgary decided to try a new approach to travel downtown. If people who live in 8 month harsh winter can bike all year, I think we can agree Calgary is a lot warmer and a nicer place to bike all winter. I bike all winter not because I’m radical or nuts but because my car won’t warm up on my commute.

Thank you for the opportunity to enjoy the cycle tracks. Good job! I wouldn’t go downtown otherwise.


HELP NEEDED: Save the Cycle Track Network!

Please read my response at the bottom of this article. 🚴<{===

Begin forwarded message:

From: Calgarians for Cycle Tracks <info>
Date: 22 November, 2016 23:21:29 MST
Subject: HELP NEEDED: Save the Cycle Track Network!



The Cycle Track Network pilot was opened in June of 2015 and has been a huge success. But the pilot is now officially over and City Council will soon decide whether to make it permanent or scrap it altogether.

We’re thrilled with just how much of a success the cycle track network has been:

We need your help to ensure that the cycle track network is not scrapped by City Council!

Please consider helping us in two ways:

1) Email City Council and tell them why you support making the cycle track network permanent. Click this link or copy and paste the list of addresses at the bottom of this message into your email.

2) Speak in support of the cycle track network at the Transportation & Transit Committee Meeting at City Hall on Thursday, December 8. See our Facebook Event for more details and to RSVP.

Thank you for your support.


Calgarians for Cycle Tracks

You can click this easy link or copy and paste the following addresses into your email to City Council.

Ward Sutherland <ward.sutherland>; Joe Magliocca <joe.magliocca>; Jim Stevenson <jim.stevenson>; Sean Chu <sean.chu>; Ray Jones <ray.jones>; Richard Pootmans <richard.pootmans>; Druh Farrell <druh.farrell>; Evan Woolley <evan.woolley>; Gian-Carlo Carra <gian-carlo.carra>; Brian Pincott <brian.pincott>; Andre Chabot <andre.chabot>; Shane Keating <shane.keating>; Diane Colley-Urquhart <diane.colley-urquhart>; Peter Demong <peter.demong>; Mayor Nenshi <themayor>

Calgarians for Cycle Tracks

Created with NationBuilder, the essential toolkit for leaders.

🚴<{===The value of good city planning is not people fearing for their lives if they aren’t wrapped in a steel cage at all times, it is parents and children being safe enough to enjoy going anywhere in Calgary without fearing they’ll die on the roads.

The easiest and most inexpensive way to convince people to spend money downtown is to take away that fear of road fatalities. People will spend more money in places where they don’t feel threatened, places that they can access more quickly by bike than walking or driving.

Exercise makes people hungry and thirsty. The money saved by not having to pay for expensive transportation options frees up money for local businesses and shopping.

Calgary has tried to re-infuse life back into downtown with high parking fees, expensive transportation, and abandoning pathways to winter. It hasn’t worked.

All of my trips downtown are over 30 kilometres by bike on pathways, especially during the Winter Bike to Work day at Eau Claire every second Friday in February (during winter).

The high speed limits through the downtown core are terrifying for drivers. There is not enough time to take in everything that is going on… looking for parking, looking for a business, watching out for pedestrians, swerving to avoid bad drivers who make 3 turn lanes out of 1 or 2 lanes. We have turned driving downtown into a rat run nightmare, a task that is at the very least so unappealing that drivers will even cut off buses that signal lane changes. If drivers do this to buses, they are even more disposed to doing worse to pedestrians and cyclists. The only way to bring a balance of safety for all users and quick access to downtown is via cycle tracks and pathways.

There is no more room to build streets downtown without tearing down buildings. We have built ourselves into a corner. The best we can do now is to use that space more efficiently… parking 12 bikes to each parking space, promoting more pedestrian access over the average of 1 person per car. If we do not do this, we are limiting the number of people who will spend time and spend money downtown.

For those of us living in the suburbs, we are denied access to downtown cycletracks in the winter by threats of liability from Calgary Parks for clearing snow off pathways.

Some of us are trying to undo the damage of expecting city hall to solve all of our transportation problems. There is less liability when pathways are plowed and there is not enough money to plow them all. So when snow angels take their time to protect the city from liability issues from iced over pathways that people have to use every day, it should not be misconstrued as a criminal act to keep those expensive pathways in safe condition and in use all year long.

Any business where you can grow productivity by 40% in one year is genius. Given a few more years, much of the remaining untapped potential will be realized.


Airport Trail Pathway

Calgary Parks is saying hotel property owners cannot remove snow from pathway adjacent to their property.

Bylaw 20M88 is clear regarding sidewalk or pathway snow clearing. This is based on the legal address of the land, so the pathway you are referring to along 96th Avenue east of deerfoot does not have BYLAW implications regarding it.


67. (1) The owner or occupant of a private parcel of land adjacent to a Sidewalk or Pathway that runs in front of the property or along the side of the property where:

(a) such Sidewalk or Pathway runs parallel to and directly adjacent to a Street, or

BYLAW NUMBER 20M88Page 30 of 44

(b) such Sidewalk or Pathway runs parallel to and adjacent to a Street, where the Pathway or Sidewalk and Street are separated only by a grassed or otherwise covered boulevard;

shall remove ice and snow from that portion of the Sidewalk or Pathway adjacent to the parcel so that the Sidewalk or Pathway is cleared to the bare surface, within 24 hours after the ice and snow has been deposited.

(1.1) For the purposes of subsection (1), the owner or occupant of a private parcel of land adjacent to a Pathway must remove ice and snow from the Pathway to a minimum width of 1.5 meters from the side of the Pathway closest to the parcel.

(B/L 51M2011, 2011 September 19)