As leaves change colors and days grow colder in the City, Denver Public Works Street Maintenance crews are prepared for the upcoming snow season. Denver is well on its way to becoming a multimodal City all year ‘round, and our snow response plan reflects our commitment to ensuring safety for all travel modes.
Denver Public Works will do our part to keep Denver roadways as clear as possible when the flakes fly this winter. As snow events vary in strength, volume, consistency and temperature, Public Works adjusts our strategies and resources to best handle each situation; and Denver residents should do the same. Whether walking, biking, using transit or driving during snowy days, commuters should evaluate the situation and choose the method of transportation that they are most comfortable with given the day’s weather conditions. Find out more about our snow response plan and get real time updates at www.denversnowplan.com, and by following @DenPublicWorks on Twitter.
Below, find information about how Denver Public Works Street Maintenance crews will keep our roadways safe for everyone during this snow season.
Snow Removal from City Streets:
Main streets, or most streets with stripes, are the priority for Public Works and our 70 largest plows. These are the streets that carry most of the city’s vehicular and bicycle traffic, as well as emergency vehicles and public transportation. Denver Public Works’ white plows remove snow from Denver city streets; CDOT’s orange plows address state highways.
When snow is predicted, Denver Public Works crews monitor road conditions and deploy when snow begins to accumulate on the pavement. After snow has accumulated, crews lay down a dry material as a “de-icer” to break up ice and snow buildup.
Generally, residential streets are not plowed during snow events. However, when forecasters predict a foot of snow or more accompanied by prolonged freezing temperatures between November 15 and March 15, Public Works can activate our Residential Snow Plow Program in which light-duty plows address side streets to prevent deep ice ruts that can render vehicles immobile.
Snow Removal from City Bicycle Facilities:
The majority of Denver’s on-street bicycle lanes are located on roadways with stripes; these are the streets that are routinely plowed every time snow accumulates. Crews will make every effort to plow through the bike lane to the curb whenever possible. During swift, heavy snowfall, however, bike lanes may become snow packed. In these conditions, bicyclists can count on the vehicle travel lane to likely be the clearest option and should be prepared to ride in a shared lane condition during snow season. If the city experiences a major snow event (12 inches of snow or more), bicyclists may want to consider alternative transportation options.
Public Works plow drivers keep an eye out for bikes on the roadway, but bicyclists should also be very cautious when riding in the vicinity of our trucks. It is critical that motorists and bicyclists give plows plenty of room when sharing the road this season.
Denver Parks and Recreation operates and maintains more than 80 miles of off-street multi-use trails within the City. When more than one inch of snow accumulates, Parks and Recreation crews manage snow removal efforts along urban, solid surface trails. These trails, like the Cherry Creek and Platte River trails, are plowed throughout the day, and may be a good alternative for bicyclists who feel uncomfortable riding on the street during adverse weather conditions. Soft surface trails are not addressed during the winter season.
Preferred Bicycle Routes into Downtown During Snow Events:
Public Works has identified these preferred bicycle routes that bicyclists can expect to be plowed during snow events. Inbound:
- Northwest: Take 46th Avenue to Tejon Street, which turns into 16th Street, enter South Platte Trail from the pedestrian/bicycle bridge over I-25.
- West: Take 17th Avenue eastbound around Sports Authority Field at Mile High to access the South Platte Trail.
- Southwest: Take West Florida Avenue eastbound to the South Platte Trail.
- East: Take Martin Luther King Boulevard southwest to Stout or Champa Streets.
- Central: Take 16th Avenue westbound into Downtown.
- Southeast: Take local roads to access the Cherry Creek Trail.
Tips for Bicycling in the Snow:
- Plan: After checking the local weather, decide if your bicycling skill set matches the daily weather forecast.
- Tire Type: The more tread on your tires the better. A mountain bike, while riding in the snow is ideal.
- Air: Let a little air out of your tires to give you more surface area on the snowy pavement
- Position: Lower your saddle so you can quickly put your foot down.
- Braking: As in any slippery conditions (such as very wet roads), brake early and in a straight line. You can also use the back brake to test the amount of adhesion you have.
- Apparel: Dress in layers
- Clean Up: Clean your chain and drive train after almost every ride. A chain cleaner, rag and an old toothbrush are all you need. Just clean it up and regrease it with a chain lube designed for wet/dirty climates. Wipe down your brakes after snowy to sure the contact surfaces with the wheels are clean.