There have been a couple of light snowfalls that dusted the ground with God’s dandruff. The nights are getting colder and the days cooler. This works out well because bicycle snowplowing is hot work, especially when snow gets deeper.
One of the good things about bicycle snowplowing is that it helps take your attention off yourself and your worries. It may start out as a way to train during the winter and it may start out as a frustration of having to bike on the roads with hostile drivers. From there, it quickly evolves into overcoming personal challenges through focusing on the needs of your community. The reason that we are often upset with our station in life is not because of what other people have done to us, it is because of what we won’t do for ourselves.
We can complain about pathways not being plowed and perhaps as the motoring public, we are so used to expecting snow removal to be done for us that when we decide to bicycle all year round we get upset at not being able to expect the pathways to be plowed for us too. Its a bit of the entitled status most drivers have. Cyclists however, tend to think more in terms of what cycling does for their lifestyle and health benefits. In other words, we shift from just our own self interests to something that makes us better people too.
I was looking at twitter today and found out that Calgary was in 5th place for the amount of participation on Bike To Work Day. We are just behind Montreal in the standings and well ahead of Edmonton. Are we upset about being ahead of Edmonton? As drivers, we might be upset at anyone who is ahead of us. As cyclists, we are more upset about how we let ourselves get so far back in the standings and then we might try to do better.
Then I read a tweet from Bike To Work Day asking mechanical minded people to start thinking about how they would design bicycle snowplows. There’s one thing that I’ve learned from building plows is that it takes time to think things out. You have to let the idea stew for a while and then try building a plow and see if it works the way you think it would. Often there are lots of mistakes but as you progress, like any skill, what you love doing will help you develop the genius for being good at it.
In the past year or so we have had Tom Babin’s book called Frostbike. We have had the City of Calgary build downtown protected bike lanes called cycle tracks. Now I think, we need to also start supporting the cycling community in our own communities in Calgary and elsewhere. Once the cycling movement gets moving, we can either get on board and help things move more smoothly of we can block it by lying on the road like a rock and wait to get run over.
The movement of the cycling community is either advancing or retreating. There have been difficult challenges getting the cycle track network started. As a result of cyclists not giving in to the status quo, the city now has higher numbers of cyclists than was anticipated. All it takes to keep things moving is a little push. The more people become involved in the cycling community, the more infrastructure and the better maintained infrastructure we will have. Safe cycling infrastructure is what many people have been saying for some time, is what kept them from cycling all these years.
The most difficult thing to understand about receiving better infrastructure is that we also need to start giving a little more. The trick is not necessarily to do more, but to create more through taking an interest we may have and doing it in a way that benefits others without wasting any more energy.
People who are serious about cycling spend a fair amount of time indoors during the winter training. That same effort could be applied to bicycle snowplowing. This is where the wisdom comes in. Instead of doing more, we can apply our efforts in the most economical way possible for everyone. Our efforts can benefit just one person or it can benefit the whole community depending on how we apply ourselves.