Can we build a plow bike for the trails before this winter or not?

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spakbros
Participant
#

It’s coming soon.

I really think this would be cheap enough to do that it would be worthwhile. My vision is 2 tandems welded side by side (or in a line might work better), with studded tires and a plow either dragged along behind or pushed in front.

Lock it somewhere out of the way and organize plow parties every time it snows heavily.

It took me more time to walk through junction hollow every day last winter than my whole commute combined. Not to mention the sweat and cold feet it generated.

I would rather sweat in the fall

EDIT:

It may be more prudent to try and find a person with a small tractor or ATV and pay them to plow it instead. Or to chip in on a riding mower w/ plow and share.

I don’t really care as long as that shit is clear


buzz1980
Participant
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I wonder if Golden Triangle Bike Rentals would loan out one of their Surrey’s during the winter and allow a plow to be attached.


robjdlc
Participant
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I think the power to weight ratio for this to be feasible just doesn’t make sense. The only thing you’d be able to push is the sort of powder and slush that doesn’t affect knobbies anyway. Best case scenario, the frame is made of aluminum components and ridden by two thin dudes with wicked strong legs as well as an aluminum plow edge, which will be both expensive and require constant maintenance.

Realistically, you’re looking at electric assist at the very least, or an ATV like you said, which would be practical but expensive + time it would take to push snow off the entire trail.

Its really something the city should be taking care of.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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I don’t know that a plow bike would be any faster or more functional than one dedicated human being with an 18″-wide grain shovel. The plow bike would be excellent at one type of snow, while the one dedicated human with the right shovel can adapt to whatever nature decided to put down that day.


HiddenVariable
Participant
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a salt bike, on the other hand, might be quite useful. especially if it had studded tires.


Pierce
Participant
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This has been one of those things on my never ending list of “to do” projects. The way I see it, it would be better to make a thinner plow. Maybe something like six or eight inches. That weight the cyclist wouldn’t be as likely to get stopped by the snow, yet other cyclists could get through the path.

Maybe attach something to a front bike rack with loaded down panniers? Or pull something behind loaded down.

Alternatively, whenever it snows I try to ride where people haven’t ridden yet because it seems to be far less slippery and crunchy, but it sucks when the snow is down for a week and the panther hollow trail has like twenty feet across of bicycle tracks


Bikelove2010
Participant
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+1 for a salt bike


salty
Participant
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salt bike ftw


Bikelove2010
Participant
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the only real issue I see with the salt bike is where do we get/who pays for the salt?


Lyle
Participant
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My dad spent most of his career designing snowplows. I’ll give him a call, see what he says.


Cullen
Participant
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I’d suggest an ATV with a snow plow. During my college years, I worked for a landscaping company that did snow removal for a hospital. We used an ATV with a plow and it worked wonderfully. We could keep miles of sidewalks clear.


Lyle
Participant
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What’s an ATV weigh? 300 lbs?


Jason
Participant
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An ATV might be closer to 5-700 lbs.

An ATV would work with the little snow storms, maybe up to 6 or 8 inches, but much more than that would be a lot of work for an ATV.

We need to petition the city to keep the trails clear. I am sure they have lots of equipment to handle that. Most of the trails are large enough to drive a PennDot plow truck down.


dwillen
Participant
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Pittsburgh doesn’t tend to get a whole lot of >6-8 inch snow falls. Averages for entire months aren’t much higher than that. Unless we have another snowmageddon, an ATV would be more than enough.

I think a pedal powered machine would be pretty cool, but in the past, one of the problems people have brought up is storage of said machine. If you leave it chained up in a parking lot, it will be exposed to salt, plows, snow, thieves and vandals. I doubt it would last very long.


sloaps
Participant
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Is it the city DPW that purchased the small equipment for the trails, or did they push the bridge and trail clearing to the parking authority or parks conservancy?

Mick, Dan, myself and a few others did pretty well with shovels and digging bars this past winter. Digging bar worked well for the +2 inch thick ice.

I think we’re in trouble if we get another heavy snow season because of the construction at Bates. Either the parking authority or the port authority will need to step up and clear the trail from PNC Firstside, passed the parking garage and upto the construction detour. It seems infeasible for the city to maintain that stretch, because the equipment is based out of the garage in the Run? – i think. So they will probably continue to clear the bridge and trail from Bates to Greenfield…


Lyle
Participant
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I wouldn’t think that the asphalt on the jail trail/panther hollow would stand up the weight of a loaded dump truck.


reddan
Keymaster
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To Nat’s point re: shovels and digging bars, the key is not so much equipment, but early removal of the snow before it gets packed down.

The Hot Metal bridge clearing was tough because we didn’t get started until it had already been packed down by a couple days of people walking and riding on the snow. If we had the same manpower out the morning after each of the big snowfalls, it would have been significantly easier.

The same problem will occur with snowplow bike concepts, methinks.


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Couple days? Snowmageddon was Feb 5-6th. We dug/drilled it out the 20th.

My 80-foot driveway was clear enough by the Sunday after the first storm, and the following Sunday, to pull a sizable trailer out of it. This was because we had two dedicated humans out there Friday evening, Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, and after the second storm on Tuesday, clearing it.

Manpower, out there early, is THE key to clearing snow. Equipment, less so.

Had one person cleared even one shovel width on the bridge, sidewalks and trail, it would have made all the difference.

One person with a big shovel, clearing <4″ snow, which is 90% of what we get around here, could walk along at the pace of a slow walk, clearing as s/he went.


wojty
Participant
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Morningsider
Participant
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I like the idea of two tandems welded together, but attaching a flame-thrower would be far more efficient (and fun). Anyone have one?


BradQ
Participant
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What about sort of splitting the difference with a city a bit and requesting one of those salt boxes that are stocked in certain neighborhoods? I don’t know how those things work, but seems like it allows concerned folks to chip in with their labor easily.


sloaps
Participant
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Those salt boxes are a great idea, but when poorly maintained during mild weather the salt condenses and forms a giant block. That’s mainly why the city got rid of the boxes.

Perhaps if we can make a better box, one that inhibits moisture, then perhaps the city could toss us a few hundred pounds of salt in good faith. Can anyone spare a few thousand desiccants?


StuInMcCandless
Participant
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Rice


Mick
Participant
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I think the city should do it.

Salt without some shoveling before laying the down leads to deep, awful salt slush. For the most part, I prefer nothing at all.

Sloaps, Dan, Stu, me, and some others did some shoveling. It was a good thing to do and a bonding experience.

OTOH, we put in a LOT of labor (40 man-hours? 60 man-hours? A lot). And we didn’t do a timely job and we didn’t do a very thorough job. It was publicly demonstrating the depth of commitment to clean trails more than anything else.

We need to get the city on this. If we have to go out shoveling again, we need to do a media blitz about it.

We’re taxpayers. We should not have to hire someone to plow the public trails.


spakbros
Participant
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I agree 100% that the city should be on it. But..they aren’t, and that doesn’t help me get to work.


Nick D
Participant
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The city should do, but I doubt they will.

Like I have said the past 2 or 3 years, if someone is serious about this and can find financing (or parts) for it, I’d be more than happy to help build it.

With that said, I don’t think a pedal powered snow plow is a practical idea–although, it would be cool.

In my head, the best solution would be a combo of a light plow and a salt spreader that is towed behind.


John
Participant
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Pierce
Participant
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Just FYI, I believe they use a golf cart sized street cleaner like machine to clear the trails. It has a big spinning brush on the front of it, like this

On the hot metal bridge I believe they use gas powered snow throwers

The problem is that when the city is hit with snow, trails just aren’t going to be a priority, which I don’t think is going to change anytime soon


Ahlir
Participant
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I grew up in Montreal; they have sidewalk-width plows that zoom up and down the streets. (Just stay out of the way, they really move fast). . I guess what you need depends on how much snow you expect…


Jason
Participant
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I lived in Breckenridge Colorado for a while and they used some cool vehicles to move snow from the sidewalks. The place I worked at had a couple Bobcat skid steers and a a couple quads with plows. if the snow got deeper than a few inches the quads would have to work very hard to move the snow. The bobcats would go through anything as long as there was not much ice.

There are a lot of compact tractors out there that could be fitted with snowblowers or plows depending on snow depth.

This is really a job for the city. I would not mind being in charge of driving some piece of equipment to keep the trails clear. I enjoyed clearing snow in Colorado.


edmonds59
Participant
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Damn I love Montreal.


Ahlir
Participant
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@edmonds59: yeah, believe me I can relate…

Montreal is where I learned that the safest part of the street was the double-yellow line down the middle (might have been a double-white way back then): cars understand to keep a healthy distance away from each other, and as a result the middle is wide enough for a bike to safely cruise on down in between the traffic.

One day, tooling down Sherbrooke just east of Guy, I see this other biker coming at me from the other direction. He gets closer, and… we know each other! Damn, how did he figure this one out? I never told anybody!

BTW, I would hesitate to try this here in Pittsburgh: streets are generally too narrow, and the drivers too easily spooked. Or maybe it’s just that I feel too old anymore to pull off that kind of stuff. Let us know if it’s worked for you.


edmonds59
Participant
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OT but maybe in the spring I will try to arouse interest in a BikePgh contingent to go to the Montreal Bike Fest in June. Must do. International Flock of Cycles.


Mick
Participant
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I think that if we want clean trails this winter, we need to organize two teams.

1) Some kind of shovel brigade – hopefully with a motorized sidewalk plow.

2) A PR team. If we have individuals doing the job of the city and county? We should get it plastered over the news.

For heavy snows, the best non-motorized thing would be a “Sleigh shovel.” They work really well with deep, fresh snow. Not so well once there are tracks.

Would have been useless for us going out 2 weeks after Snowmageddon.

http://www.garant.com/html/en/produits/sousCategories.php?idCategorie=1&idSousCategorie=22


Nick D
Participant
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I could see the headline now “Labor Unions Battle Renegade Cyclists”


ejwme
Participant
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Hey, as part of the PR team, will anybody be stationed at the upcoming Cycling Census (or whatever it was that Lolly was asking for volunteers for next week for) be people counting bikes on the trails? It could help if we could say X trips by bike along trail per “snow” day THWARTED by combination excessive snow and lack of city/county maintenance.


Jason
Participant
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FOUND IT!!!

http://pittsburgh.craigslist.org/for/2014526665.html

Now who is going to buy it?


ejwme
Participant
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wow that is overkill. we don’t so much need the tractor part (though it could be useful for cultivating the trail shoulders into crop bearing plots, but that’s a different thread).

anybody know the name of the thing in the montreal pic? maybe we could find a source… Does anything plough the GAP? If so, maybe we could figure out something similar, if not, maybe a bulk order would lower the price… Just ideas.


Swalfoort
Participant
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Ok, I believe this will take off. However, I think it will take some time to pull it all together. In the meantime, I would be happy to provide a good shovel for trail maintenance purposes — I suspect that the EF Trail would be the likely place for deployment. I will also throw in a lock that will allow us, as a group, to keep the shovel “at the ready” somewhere trailside. You ride out, you see snow building up, you stop, shovel for 15 minutes, leave the shovel where you ended, and the next guy picks up where you left off. Would that work? Obviously, a combination lock would be required, with wide knowledge of the combination by local cyclists. I don’t know about a digger or an ice scraper, as I haven’t seen versions that would permit them to be secured by a cable lock.


Mick
Participant
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I believe the Craigslist snowblower is an appropriate tool for the job – but I do believe some Public Works department should buy it, use it and maintain it. And probably not just one.

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