Pedestrians face snowy sidewalk challenges
Despite the cold and snow, 26-year-old Oliver Eskildsen is still out on his bike almost every day. "If I have somewhere to be, I'm pretty much taking a bike," said the Minnesota State University Moorhead student. Eskildsen, a member of the Fargo ...
Despite the cold and snow, 26-year-old Oliver Eskildsen is still out on his bike almost every day.
"If I have somewhere to be, I'm pretty much taking a bike," said the Minnesota State University Moorhead student.
Eskildsen, a member of the Fargo Moorhead Community Bike Workshop, is one of the many winter commuters who don't rely on a car when the weather turns bad.
Roads for motorists have been treacherous since last weekend's double-punch blizzard, but walkers and cyclists have a whole other set of obstacles in winter conditions, said Moorhead pedestrian Lukas Brandon.
For Brandon, a stay-at-home father of two young kids, walking is his primary mode of transportation. One of the biggest challenges to getting around in the winter is a blocked path, he said.
"It gets made a lot harder than it needs to be, I think, because sidewalks and (medians) ... don't get kept up," he said.
Eskildsen said city snowplows kept up on clearing streets fairly well for motorists and cyclists.
But sidewalks proved harder for crews to clear, said Ben Dow, Fargo public works director.
Fargo crews generally can clear the 34 miles of city-owned sidewalks in about 36 hours, Dow said, but the recent storm created drifts as high as 10 feet, slowing down crews and meaning additional equipment had to be used.
All but one sidewalk, along 40th Avenue South, west of 45th Street, were plowed by Friday, Dow said.
Moorhead crews met similar obstacles in clearing sidewalks, said Chad Martin, operations manager.
Dow and Martin said all sidewalks should be cleared by sometime today.
Fargo School Resource Officer Chris Potter said there are three main guidelines for staying safe as a pedestrian or cyclist.
Be predictable. Follow the rules of the road and don't depend on the actions of others, he said. "What really bothers us is when we see a pedestrian walking right in front of traffic," Potter said.
Be visible. Joggers, walkers and cyclists should wear bright clothing. The heavier-than-normal snow totals have piled up on corners, reducing visibility for drivers and pedestrians, so slowing down and using caution at intersections is key, Potter said.
- Use good judgment. In extreme weather conditions, don't take unnecessary risks.
As for drivers, slow down, Potter said.
"We have a really good fitness culture here," Potter said. "That's wonderful, but again it comes down to commonsense judgment."
Tips, seminars for winter safety
Learn about becoming a winter bicyclist
- What: Winter bike clinic
- When: 2 to 4 p.m. on Jan. 22
- Where: Fargo Moorhead Community Bike Workshop, 209 NP Ave.
- Info: Clinic will highlight winter biking attire, techniques and gear. There will also be a demonstration on studded tires. For more information, call (701) 478-4021.
Put winter cycling skills to work
- What: Winter Bicycle Race / Fun Ride
- When: 1:30 p.m. on Jan. 30; kids race starts at 1:10 p.m.
- Where: Fargo Community Gardens, Lower Terrace, just west of Oak Gove Park.
- Info: Race day registration is from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. Entry fee for the 5K and 10K race/ride is $20 before Jan. 15 and $25 after that date. For more information and a registration form, visit www.gncycles.com .
Report unclear walks:
- In Fargo: Call the Street Department at (701) 241-1453 with the address of the uncleared walk.
- In Moorhead: Call Neighborhood Services at (218) 299-5434.
- In West Fargo: Call the Public Works office at (701) 433-5400.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511