Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cyclists Get Cold Shoulder

I endured my first snow day of the season this morning and it wasn't pretty. On my morning ride, I found precious few bike paths that had been cleared of snow. That meant that I pretty much had to ride on the street. Although much of the snow had melted, the snow and slush that did remain was piled up next to the curb, meaning I had to ride well out toward the middle of the lane. Luckily, traffic was moving slowly enough that I didn't hold up any motorists and no one honked or attempted any dangerous overtaking.

The few paths that were cleared were on sidewalks which had been swept by property owners. In Hungary, it is the individual property owner who is responsible for removing snow from the sidewalks (pavements) in front of his or her building.

The photo at left shows the riverside path just north of Margit híd on the Buda side at 8 a.m. As you can see, it is very tracked up, which shows you I wasn't alone out there. I think it's fair to say there'd be more winter riders if bike paths were swept in winter.

This second picture shows the path just north of the Filitorigát HÉV stop. The section that also serves as the HÉV platform was cleared (presumably by BKV) but beyond the platform area, the path turns back into winter wonderland.

This third photo shows the path in Szentendre -- the worst example of the bunch. The path here is just the shoulder of the road and marked as a bike path. A snow plow had been through, pushing all the accumulation onto the bike path, making it unrideable.

Not surprisingly, poor snow removal practices provoke perennial complaints in many cities situated in temperate zones. Check out this post for some good and bad practices. A transport officer in the U.S. State of Oregon initiated an interesting conversation thread about different approaches to the problem. From the replies she received, it seems that many communities take this challenge very seriously.