Dec 102008
 
Authors: Madeline Novey

Editorial note: In the article, the Collegian reported that the Spring Creek Community Trail and other local bike trails are not included in current city snow removal plans. The Spring Creek Community Trail and others are included in the Fort Collins snow removal route.

As winter encroaches upon the daily commute and daily bikers pedal furiously against newly fallen layers of snow and ice slicked-over the roads, local businesses and bike communities recommend that dedicated pedal-commuters take extra precautions this winter bike season.

From added layers of clothing to additional eye protection, officials said that while Fort Collins is one of the nation’s most bike-friendly cities, bikers need to be aware of their place in traffic and help motorists by increasing their own visibility.

“It’s really safe in this town, but watch out for yourself,” said Dan Ramse, a service rider and mechanic at Recycled Cycles, a local bike shop that sells new and reconditioned bicycles.

Ramse said the best way to achieve increased stability and control riding on icy or snow-laden roads is to buy quality rubber or metal studded tires.

The studded tires, whose effect is comparable to snow chains on a car tire, provide added traction and reduce the occurrence of slipping. The product ranges in price from about $20 to $80 per tire, Ramse said, based on brand and quality and are available at most bike or sporting stores.

Anne Marie Casper, a CSU forest ecology graduate student, pointed out her studded tires and noted the quality of the treds as she explained that she takes time and weather conditions into account before biking almost two miles to campus everyday.

“Be prepared for changing conditions and be smart about what you’re doing,” Casper said, encouraging students to be constantly aware about their position in campus.

Ramse said people often do not think about their bodies as they ride and said they need to dress properly to stay warm. Dressing in multiple layers with at least one made of cotton or wool, a synthetic that draws out sweat helps

to combat wind-chill and precipitation while riding.

“Dress properly, dress in layers and then just make sure you have enough lights on the bike so you are seen,” Ramse said, recommending riders to attach a minimum of two lights on the front and back of the bike to increase visibility. “Use common sense.”

While riders must take certain measures to maintain safe and healthy officials said, their commutes are also affected by road conditions.

Holly Keyser, administrative support supervisor for the City of Fort Collins Streets Department, said that the department placed greater emphasis on training snow plow operators to effectively remove snow from bike lanes.

At this point, snow removal is currently focused on main streets and does not include the Spring Creek Trails or other community bike trails.

Keyser asked people to have patience with the city during the winter season and said that certain areas could take a couple of days to clear. She noted that riders have the opportunity to make comments about specific road conditions — potholes, areas with dense snow pack for example — at http://fcgov.com.

“We will look at these concerns and they will be addressed in a timely manner,” she said.

While he said did not want to criticize the city and does not have any complaints about living here, Robert Mahoney, a junior speech communications major, said he’s lived in towns with better snow removal.

“I’m not going to bash Fort Collins, but I’ve seen better,” Mahoney said.

A map detailing the bicycle snow removal routes throughout Fort Collins, created by the Streets Department is available at http://fcgov.com/streets/snow-removal.php.

Next week, members of various biking organizations that encourage biking as an alternative form of transportation, are scheduled to host Bike Winter Fort Collins, a series of events to celebrate all-seasonal bikers.

Winter Bike to Work Day is scheduled for Wednesday, Dec. 17. during which bicyclists can pick up breakfast from about seven locations, including REI, New Belgium Brewery and Oak Street Plaza, from 7 to 9 a.m.

Mahoney said overall the most important tip to remember when riding winter weather is to heed common sense and follow biking safety rules often ignored in dry weather.

“Pay attention to what you’re doing,” Mahoney said. “There’s no need to talk on a cell phone while you bike in snow.”

Assistant News Editor Madeline Novey can be reached at news@collegian.com.

Ten important winter riding tips:

-Be careful of low angle sun during winter, as cars may not be able to see you.

-Wear bright, visible clothing.

-When riding at night, ride with front and rear lights. Always wear your helmet. You may need to change the sizing pads in your helmet to remove them entirely to fit your winter headgear.

-Try taping over the vents in your helmet if your head gets cold.

-Take extreme caution of slick train tracks during wet, winter weather. Slow your speed and cross at a 90-degree angle (straight across).

-Wide tires with widely separated knobs work best on snow. Studded tires improve traction on ice. Use low pressure: start with 15 to 20 psi and experiment yourself.

-Try to pedal smoothly and relax your upper body, especially on ice and soft snow. When the bike starts going sideways, make small corrections rather than over steering and weaving down the road.

-Cycling generates a lot of heat, so clothes that are warm and comfortable have to control the buildup of heat and moisture as well as insulate and protect from wind.

-If you’re riding in a headwind or falling snow, you’ll find eye protection very helpful.

-Store your bicycle indoors to protect it from the elements. Plus, you’ll find that a warm saddle is more enjoyable to ride in the morning.

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