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Winter Riding Hazards

This topic contains 275 replies, has 62 voices, and was last updated by  Mick 7 mos, 4 weeks.

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Pierce

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Dec 17 2013 at 11:45am #

I’ve only slipped twice with my regular RiBMOs and both were at slow speeds

The Waterfront trail has a nice layer of ice for a pretty large portion of it now


Mick

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Dec 17 2013 at 1:09pm #

LAte night weekends, I assume any driver could be falling-down, blind-drunk.

A not unreasonable assumption, except it pushes me me to the sidewalk whenever a falling-down, blind-drunk driver (i.e. any car) passes me. Lately the sidewalks have been near impassible.


salty

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Dec 17 2013 at 7:59pm #

the lack of enforcement of the sidewalk shoveling ordinance gives the lack of traffic law enforcement a run for its money, that’s for sure.


salty

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Dec 17 2013 at 8:01pm #

and studded tires have definitely been nice to have this week, plenty of ice on the streets and trails. I might need to get studded boots for walking, though.


richierich

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Dec 18 2013 at 8:29am #

salty wrote:the lack of enforcement of the sidewalk shoveling ordinance gives the lack of traffic law enforcement a run for its money, that’s for sure.

The city’s policy is to only go out ticketing for sidewalks when they receive a specific complaint; they would probably claim lack of resources to patrol every street every time it snows. But the 311 form has a category for snow and sidewalks, and if you give them addresses, they send people directly to those houses and check, and probably leave tickets on the spot.

It’s annoying to have to record and remember house numbers, but if more people did it -> more offenders got tickets -> people would learn to treat their sidewalks -> we wouldn’t have to waste time doing this, or struggling over ice and frozen footprints.


StuInMcCandless

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Dec 18 2013 at 1:38pm #

I can see helmet cam video, or at least cell phone stills, being useful here.


helen s

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Dec 19 2013 at 9:20pm #

I signed up to be a Snow Angel this winter- with my two assignments, I know of at least 3 houses now in my neighborhood that will have the sidewalks cleared. Be the change you want to see.


salty

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Dec 19 2013 at 10:57pm #

Good point, although there are a lot of able-bodied pricks who don’t shovel – or even worse, their driveway is pristine while the sidewalk is a sheet of ice.

I was signed up for snow angels but never got an assignment. I got the email this year about how they were changing the program, but I neglected to do whatever I needed to do to sign up again, so I should do that.

Regardless, if I have the time I’ll go up and down the block and do 3-5 houses near mine. Sometimes I’ll go out to shovel to find one of my neighbors have already done the same for me. We’ve never discussed it, it just happens. That is how it should work. Conversely, some people probably look around, see their neighbors haven’t done squat, and figure “why should I bother?” – especially when there is zero enforcement, and they probably use their cars to get everywhere anyways. Remember, our great (soon to be ex-) mayor’s response to snowmageddon was to suspend the shoveling ordinance, which resulted in huge ice trenches that lasted the better part of a month and were downright treacherous. Meanwhile, we spent a ton of money clearing streets for cars and still got a nonstop chorus of bitching and whining from drivers.


StuInMcCandless

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Dec 20 2013 at 9:54am #

On several occasions over the years, I brought a shovel with me to work on the bus after a big snow. It got put to good use at bus stops, reducing or eliminating the mound between sidewalk and bus, and bus drivers quickly figured out to stop at those notches. 28X at Ikea, 9th at Penn, Liberty at the Hilton, Federal and North, wherever I happened to be.

I don’t know why more people don’t do that. Oh yeah, it’s a dangerous weapon. Forgot about that. (Most people just say “thank you”.)


Pierce

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Dec 20 2013 at 10:36am #

You guys are making me feel bad… I’ve been neglecting my sidewalk so far this year… It’s on the other side of the lot from my house, which is where I come in, so it’s been easier to ignore :/ Also glad it’s not just an outlying borough problem though. When I lived in the city I was much more diligent


Marko82

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Dec 20 2013 at 10:49am #

I have five elderly neighbors I shovel for, including two driveways. I don’t even shovel my own driveway. I’m nutz.


Swalfoort

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Dec 20 2013 at 10:58am #

Can we get Marko a superman cape?

Thank you, on behalf of your neighbors.


Marko82

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Dec 20 2013 at 11:41am #

@swalfoort, I don’t need a cape, I get paid with occasional cookies and other treats and always a sincere thank you. Besides, I really enjoy sitting and talking with my neighbors. Some conversations tend toward nostalgic stories from bygone days (some of which I’ve heard over and over) and some of it is up to date current political debate. But it is always a nice time to just enjoy each others company. I wish more people would slow down their lives and realize what they are missing by not helping others.


Mick

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Dec 22 2013 at 9:19pm #

I see there are shovels on the Hot Metal Bridge.

Can someone PM me a combination for them?

The last time I ran inot them and wanted to use one, the published combination did not work. :(


Pierce

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Dec 22 2013 at 9:29pm #

On a somewhat related note, I noticed an interesting potentially missed design consideration on the Sandcastle section of the trail

Part of the fence has plastic weaved through it (for what purpose I do not know) and about half of the fence does not

The half that does not clears up fairly quickly after sun
The half that does, remains icy for an extended period of time

That section of the trail runs from east to west at about a 45 degree angle, so it seems as if the weaved fence is blocking the southern winter sunlight


Ahlir

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Dec 22 2013 at 10:19pm #

I assumed that the plastic strips had to do with shielding cyclists from noise/dirt coming from the tracks. You make a good point.


paulheckbert

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Jan 19 2014 at 10:02pm #

Regarding Sandcastle, my speculation is that the opaque fence was to reduce the visibility of the trains for patrons of Sandcastle, not to protect the cyclists, because the opaque part of the fence ends near where the amusement park ends.

I’m in Steel Valley Trail Council. I’ll ask others and try to get an official answer.


paulheckbert

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Jan 19 2014 at 10:12pm #

Regarding snow shovels on the Hot Metal Bridge, I see this article says there are high school students shoveling it:

http://triblive.com/news/allegheny/5290803-74/students-trail-bridge#axzz2pdQ6odzk

Users of the Three Rivers Heritage Trail could find walking and riding the trail a little easier this winter because a team of high school students will spend some of their weekends clearing snow from the path, the project’s organizers said.
The focus will be on the trail around the Hot Metal Bridge, said Nancy Schaeffer, program manager for the Student Conservation Association. She said Elizabeth Tata, president and secretary of the Laurel Foundation, suggested the idea.
Because the organization had students working at the Southside Park, off South 18th Street, it was easy enough to put snow removal on their work list.
“The kids want to work, and they want to make money,” Schaeffer said. “This will just be a little add-on.”

The Laurel Foundation is funding the project with a $5,500 grant, which pays the students minimum wage.


RustyRed

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Jan 19 2014 at 10:46pm #

paulheckbert wrote:Regarding snow shovels on the Hot Metal Bridge, I see this article says there are high school students shoveling it:

The Laurel Foundation is funding the project with a $5,500 grant, which pays the students minimum wage.

Nice! I’ve been wondering about those u-locked snow shovels!


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 20 2014 at 6:21am #

It’s nice to think that the bike community had something to do with this. Remember our shovel party after Snowmageddon?

http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/hot-metal-bridge-shovel-party-10-am-saturday-feb-20th/


Swalfoort

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Jan 20 2014 at 8:21am #

The shovel party after snowmageddon had everything to do with this announcement. (So many, many thanks to those of you who participated in that event.)

The need for shoveling party members to bring their own equipment (and their willingness to do so) demonstrated a new need along the EFT.

Within a year (or maybe two) the FOTR had started the shovels program along the trail. Volunteers were recruited, and given the combination to the locks (theft and vandalism where noticed the first year). Mikhail and others volunteered for that duty for several years….three maybe?

FOTR is very pleased that they have been able to “formalize” the program to the extent that volunteers are needed only following extreme weather events.

Of course, trails have also been added to the City’s plow routes, but that seems to be an either “OMG, they’ve been here already” sort of scheduling or a “will they EVER get to the trail” frequency of operation, with little predictability.

So, hats off, and deep gratitude, to the snow brigade, which set this all in motion!


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 20 2014 at 1:23pm #

I still have that shovel with the busted handle. The lesson to be learned from it is that snow should be removed promptly, before it gets compacted, warms & gets soft, then refreezes into compacted ice. If that does happen, bring a pick.

(ETA: Those plastic shovel blades won’t last five minutes on compacted ice.)


Swalfoort

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Jan 20 2014 at 2:14pm #

That timeliness of snow removal issue was one of the limitations of a volunteer based program. Hopefully the new snow removal team will be able to stay on top of things a little more easily.


paulheckbert

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Jan 20 2014 at 10:12pm #

Pierce wrote:On a somewhat related note, I noticed an interesting potentially missed design consideration on the Sandcastle section of the trail

Part of the fence has plastic weaved through it (for what purpose I do not know) and about half of the fence does not

The half that does not clears up fairly quickly after sun
The half that does, remains icy for an extended period of time

That section of the trail runs from east to west at about a 45 degree angle, so it seems as if the weaved fence is blocking the southern winter sunlight

I asked Jack Paulik, project manager for the Regional Trail Corporation, who coordinated the trail construction at Sandcastle (and most of the Steel Valley Trail) about the woven plastic and he said:

“The screening was installed when we were very close to the tracks to prevent trail users from flying debris and the uncomfortable feeling of close trains.”

So Ahlir’s guess was right.


jonawebb

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Jan 22 2014 at 8:25am #

Ugh, I hate cold weather. I haven’t been out since Monday.


stefb

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Jan 22 2014 at 8:44am #

Most of the jail trail was plowed. Slightly disappointed cause I had my fat bike today but I was happy for people on more regular bikes.


JaySherman5000

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Jan 22 2014 at 9:10am #

I’ve noticed over the last week couple of weeks that when the temp drops into the teens, it only takes about a mile of riding for ice crystals to start to build up in my beard. I don’t think the ice is really any cause for concern, as it isn’t in direct contact with my skin, and it only tends to happen where my face-muff is longest. The funny thing is I can really only tell it’s there when I try to move my facial muscles; the ice causes my beard to bunch up and that gives resistance to my movements. It’s a strange feeling.

For me, the best part of winter riding are the looks I get when I walk into places with what is literally an icy face.


Swalfoort

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Jan 22 2014 at 9:27am #

Jay, this is not a scientific response to your question, but an observational one.

In many parts of the US, frozen beards are experienced regularly between November and April. I think there is little risk with occasional beard icing. I would think that it if was a problem I would have beard about it before now, given my experience in wintry climes.

Backing that up is the observation that snow is actually a garden protector. The snow is warmer than that below zero air temps, and keeps the ground a little warmer. The same could probably be said for the ice in your beard. You exhale damp air, it crystallizes in your beard, the build up of ice them represents a more impermeable barrier than the beard itself. Hard to believe that this would be harmful to your skin. (different story if ice is building up ON your skin, of course.)

And yes, that frozen, crunchy first series of movements is interesting, huh? I’ve never experienced it first hand with a beard, but used to watch my ex when he had a beard. And, I’ve had more frozen hair days than I can count.


Mikhail

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Jan 22 2014 at 9:47am #

Swalfoort wrote:Mikhail and others volunteered for that duty for several years….three maybe?

For me this year is the third one. Cleaned yesterday HMB ramps after work and some “sand traps” (where geometry of ramps and bridge slightly changes and tractor-truck could not remove all snow) as one of bike commuters said.

BTW some lights on HMB are out. Is 311 going to work if I complain?


Benzo

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Jan 22 2014 at 9:58am #

My voice was hoarse when I got to work. I think I’ve had having a few incidences of exercise induced asthma as a result of the sub-zero temps. Not typical for me, I need to figure out how to mitigate that.

I havn’t used an inhaler since I was in grade school, so I’ve been untreated for a long time. Don’t typically have issues.


Marko82

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Jan 22 2014 at 11:03am #

@benzo, while not a complete solution, you could try chewing some gum while you ride. It sorta helps keep your mouth shut so you breathe more through your nose which warms the air a little before it hits your lungs. Keeping your exertion level down helps too, but them damn hills keep getting in the way.


J Z

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Jan 22 2014 at 11:19am #

Benzo wrote:My voice was hoarse when I got to work. I think I’ve had having a few incidences of exercise induced asthma as a result of the sub-zero temps. Not typical for me, I need to figure out how to mitigate that.

I havn’t used an inhaler since I was in grade school, so I’ve been untreated for a long time. Don’t typically have issues.

You ride w/ a balaclava? I actually doubled up on them today, reduced the incidence of cold air exercise induced asthma, for me.


Benzo

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Jan 22 2014 at 11:39am #

The first thing I do when I step out my door is 1/5 of a mile climb up main st (about 7%-ish grade). The bonus is that it gets me warmed up for the rest of my ride, keeping me relatively comfortable on the coldest days.

However, My nose is usually stuffy in the mornings, so I’m usually breathing through my mouth till my activity gets things moving. I find that keeping a thick covering on my neck helps with some heat loss and prevents this when it’s a bit warmer (double digits). It doesn’t really help below single digits as much. I usually wear a thick fleece one when it’s under 15 degrees. I’ve got a thin wool one for warmer temps.

Trying to keep my balaclava over my face just tends to fog up my goggles, and I don’t really need it otherwise since my beard keeps me relatively warm as it slowly grows a protective ice covering.

Maybe I should try busting out the neti pot and clearing my sinuses before going out in the morning?


Benzo

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Jan 22 2014 at 11:42am #

One thing I found worked great this morning was after putting on chap stick to protect my lips, I smeared some extra on my nose to protect it from the wind. It really helped a lot. I felt like I was going to get frostbite on my nose during the last arctic blast.


WillB

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Jan 22 2014 at 12:55pm #

One thing that I’ve found with goggles and balaclava is that my goggles fog less if I make sure to tuck the top edge of the balaclava under the goggles for a no-exposed-skin setup. Not totally sure why this works, but it’s pretty effective for me. I don’t end up with cool ice-beard, but it definitely spares my lungs the super cold air.


Mikhail

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Jan 22 2014 at 12:57pm #

Benzo wrote:However, My nose is usually stuffy in the mornings,

If you don’t mind I can show how kids are taught in Russia to breath through tongue while skiing during cold weather. It’s a normal winter temperature 0F(-19C) where I was born.


jonawebb

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Jan 22 2014 at 1:30pm #

Mikhail wrote:I can show how kids are taught in Russia to breath through tongue

I think we’d all like to learn this new skill.


Mick

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Jan 22 2014 at 1:37pm #

I rode today after taking yesterday off.

It was fun.

I overdressed.


Mikhail

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Jan 22 2014 at 3:26pm #

jonawebb wrote:

Mikhail wrote:I can show how kids are taught in Russia to breath through tongue

I think we’d all like to learn this new skill.

At one point I explained it here but it’s hard to explain — I’ll try it one more time. It’s much easier to show one time. so next time you see me just remind me to show it to you.
Idea is to put end of tongue to the almost same position as when as when you pronounce sound “L” — just above front top teeth but curl you tongue all the way up so bottom of tongue end touches that place. Now try to breath in. Air should hit tongue and go along cheeks warming up. If you need more air open mouth a little bit more and curl tongue more slightly shifting end of it deeper still touching top of your mouth. When you breath out you lower your tongue So tongue plays role of some kind of valve completely closing direct access to your throat for cold air. Both tongue and cheeks have enough blood vessels to warm up quickly and air you are breathing out helps also. Pretty soon it becomes a habit to breath like this.


J Z

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Jan 27 2014 at 10:46am #

EFT is in bad shape this morning, slow going. Be advised if you’re going to attempt it, tomorrow. If anyone finds the front half of a Planet Bike Superflash with a pair of rechargeable Duracells in there somewhere on the trail or in Oakland, let me know. Lost it today, thanks.

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