18 December 2008

Salt Guards and Keeping Bike Lanes Clear

In the previous post about the poster from the City reminding us to clear our sidewalks - they'll take care of the bike lanes and roads - there was a discussion about using salt on the infrastructure.

We salt our bike lanes and roads here in Copenhagen. Sometimes the wide stripe of salt on the bike lane is my weather report. If I see the stripe I know that snow is forecast and the city is ahead of the game with a preventive measure to ensure that the bike lane is as clear as possible until they can get out with the bike lane snowploughs.

In Copenhagen, in the late fall, barriers are set up all over the place, along the roadside where trees and bushes are in the splashing zone of traffic. In the photo above you can see the black plastic shield to the right of the stylish cyclist. In many places they are wicker - woven branches - and they look more organic than black plastic. Nevertheless, the trees and bushes are protected from the salty, slushy spray after snowfall.
Well-Heeled Winter Riding
Keeping the bike lanes clear is important. Not least for safety. But it is also a practical issue. 80% of Copenhageners continue to ride throughout the winter. That's roughly 400,000 people. If this massive group is somehow restricted in getting to work or school, imagine the chaos. Those who don't drive will have to take a bus or a train. 400,000 extra people all of a sudden standing at busstops and train stations throughout the region would be a logistical nightmare and a transport chaos.

Parents would be late getting their kids to kindergarten or school. There would be lost man hours because of people arriving late or not at all. The bike lanes are kept clear for the most basic, practical reasons.
Bike Lane Snowplough

Even the small town of Höör, in Sweden - population 7000 - have bike lane snowploughs. Here's an earlier post about it.


The Author Of said...

I see so few photos of snow covered Europe that its kind of you to share some 'everyday life' with me.

Personally, I think I'd rather visit Denmark in the last part of the year. It would be a more unique vacation, when things have normalized and visitors have gone home. Away from the bustle of confused and rude tourists.

At least I'd know I'd have someone I could possibly buy a drink for when He's not being an Artist, Journalist or Daddy.

Mikael said...

My pleasure. The autumn is a popular time to visit. Flights are cheaper, the weather's still reasonable. Although winter is fine, too.

I'll be ordering a glass of red. :-)

spiderleggreen said...

Yes, unfortunately here in Minneapolis, the bike lanes seem to be seen as a good place to pile up the snow. I often end up out in the street because it's clearer. The bike trails do seem a bit better and have some care given to them, but we are definitely second class citizens when it comes to winter roads.

It's always good to have an example of what could and should be. Keep shooting.

Brent said...

I love your examples of good bicycle infrastructure. We have some wonderful bike lanes here in Boise, Idaho however they often fail to clean off the snow, much less de-ice.

This situation makes cycle-chic near impossible. I hate helmets, but when you're cycling on snow-covered skating rinks, unfortunately, the helmet is a necessary addition. Just this afternoon I was victim to snow-covered puddle, cracking my helmet and bruising my body. You get good at ice riding, but you can only get lucky so many times before one catches you.

But we're still cycling! Possibly insane, and a much smaller group than in the balmy months (less than 10 on average on my commute, rather than 50), but we're out there, and folks like you Mikael and showing us the way it can and should be... thanks for that.

Michael Meiser said...

We're getting hit with a snow storm as we speak. 5am.. and it's only going to get worse by the work day.

I can't wait.

I'm like a kid before a snow day. I put the ice tires on the fixie last night.

tinarama said...

It makes me so happy to see pictures of people riding with snow on the ground. So pretty! Great that they get it about protecting trees from salt - that is something I never saw when I lived where it snows. Here in N. California almost all cyclists have disappeared from the roads in my valley, now that it's "cold"... nice to remember I'm not alone, cycling happily through the winter!

Pippi said...

I thought of your last post the other day when it snowed here in Vancouver. We've had snow on the ground for a week now (rather unusual) and the bike streets (certain residential streets off main thoroughfares are "bike streets") still haven't been properly cleared. I doubt there's any plan to do so. They don't even need a special plough -- just a regular one and a little salt. At least it will melt soon...

Pierre Phaneuf said...

Brushes! So cute!