We appreciate you riders out there who have posted trail condition updates to our FaceBook page. With conditions often changing daily, it’s important to know what to expect to be able to plan your route. I think Parks and Recreation gets better at clearing trails every year, but they can’t be everywhere at once all the time. I wish there were a way of tracking which trails have been cleared and when after a snowfall, like the residential plowing tracker does for streets, but as far as I know that hasn’t yet been made available. Sections of trail come under various area jurisdictions and may not be cleared all the way through to the end. Another complication is that in plowing the streets, LTU moves the snow onto those trails and side paths that are adjacent to the street, like the 84th St. and Old Cheney trails, and side paths that serve as trails, such as along Pine Lake. Also, there are often barriers created at the corners by the windrows that block the ramps, forcing sidewalk users to lug the bike up and over. Also at points where trails cross railroad tracks. I am sometimes tempted to ride with a small camping shovel to dig out an opening.
This crossing is now clear, but it look a few days.
Here are a few nuggets of information from the city website:
“Why do bike trails get cleared of snow before many streets?
The removal of snow from City bike trails is the responsibility of the City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department. City of Lincoln Parks and Recreation Department staff understand that many residents use the trails system to get to and from work and make it a priority to ensure the trails are safe for users throughout the year. Many times, City trails are cleared of snow before Lincoln’s streets due to there being fewer miles of bike trails to clear. Both bike trails and streets are an important part of the City’s overall transportation network. There are more than 134 miles of bike trails in the city and more than 2,600 lane miles of streets.”
Who doesn’t love a well-cleared ramp? Photo Credit: Yun Saksena
“City ordinance requires property owners to clear snow and ice from sidewalks by 9 a.m. the day following the end of the snowstorm. Sidewalks must be kept clear of snow and ice during the day. The entire width of the walk must be cleared, along with any adjoining wheelchair ramps or curb cuts. Residents are urged to report unshoveled sidewalks via UPLNK
Notice is given to property owners after the City receives a complaint about an unshoveled sidewalk. City ordinance requires written notice to be left on the front door or other conspicuous place on the property. If an unresolved problem is reported again, the City may hire a snow removal contractor, and the owner is responsible for the charges. It is illegal to push or blow snow into or on any street, alley or sidewalk. Violators are subject to a fine.
Snow windrows in front of driveways is an unintended consequence resulting from snow being cleared from the center of the street into the gutter. To assist in avoiding this situation, LTU recommends removing snow up to 10 feet to the left of a driveway to create room along the curb for plowed snow.
Property owners are encouraged to clear snow around fire hydrants and shovel a path to the street. This can make a significant difference in the time it takes for Lincoln Fire and Rescue to respond to a fire.”
I know many of us who would normally ride in the streets opt for the sidewalk when the streets are full of loose “snirt”- that snow/dirt mix that is a challenge to ride through, studded or fat tires included. That option’s only good if the sidewalk has been cleared, though, and not downtown where it’s not allowed.
As far as riding in Wilderness Park, riders report that packing down the deep snow enough to ride on has been tough going even with a fat bike. Certainly grooming some of the limestone trails would make them more rideable, but I haven’t heard anything about that happening, either. Maybe some day. In the meantime there’s been an upsurge of interest in snowshoeing and cross country skiing.