Monday, January 20, 2014

Another Winter Trip on Clive's Greenbelt

It has been a week since I have ridden Clives premier trail, The Greenbelt.  Since noting the issues with that city's attempts to keep the trail free of snow and ice I have seen much improvement.  The past two snows have been removed completely to the surface of the trail  Unfortunately, the first few snow storms were not adequately removed and icy sections of trail resulted.  That previous ride was on the 13th of January, 2014, the second day of above freezing temperatures.  As a result much of the winter long ice build melted as well as the snow and ice on the side of the trail.  Low spots became large puddles.  I avoided the trail for a week because of these puddles which soon turned into ice.

Today I visited the greenbelt with a bicycle shod with Kenda Klondike studded tires, 700x35.  This day was a great day to compare and contrast the trail given that the weather conditions were almost identical to the previous week.  That is both times there were two days of above freezing temperatures.  The difference is that in between Mondays we received 3" of fresh snow.

First off I would note that the entrance to the trail from 128th St was clear of snow and ice.  This has not been cleared by anyone all winter long.  I thank the Sun and warm air for this.  Second, I will mention that the notoriously icy areas are almost nonexistent now.  The hard packed ice has melted.

Typical snow melt puddle on the greenbelt.  This one lacks a layer of ice underneath.  Give it 24 hours.

Unfortunately, there are many large puddles of water from snow melt and run off that collect in low spots.  These will freeze and create ice hazards for trail users soon.  Tonight as it is forecasted to be in single digits temperature wise.  The problem is one of drainage.  The water has nowhere to go and tends to collect in low spots.  Some of these puddles are up to 10 yards long.  Some of these puddles have ice underneath the water.  Use caution when crossing them.

The section of the greenbelt east of 86th St.

One are that is particularly bad is the east/west section in between the 1 mile marker and business park east of 86th St.  Specifically, the area south of the fuel and oil storage tanks, north of the BP station.  This open area has been constantly covered by drifting snow.  The snow gets packed down and melted and refreezed and creates a very bumpy and slick surface.  Today, however, that area was the best it has been since we have had snow this winter.  There are clean and clear lines to ride through.  Trail users would appreciate it if the city could plow the drifting snow away if it snows and blows again.  This area needs more attention than the one and done plowing.

This is the best this section of trail has been since snowfall stuck around in the winter of 2013/14.  Before the melt drfting snow made this area difficult for bicyclists and pedestrians.

From here the main issue is from the businesses that border the trail.  These property owners plow their parking lots and service roads and dump that snow on the border of the trail.  As these snow piles melt the water makes its way to Walnut Creek.  The journey requires the water to cross the trail and often it turns to ice on the trail.  Sometimes this is very disruptive.  Today it was not so bad, merely wet.  Tomorrow it will be icy again.

The Clive Greenbelt Trail is a very import part of the Des Moines Metro Trail System.  It serves the community are a source of recreation and exercise and for people who commute to and from work on bicycle.  I am a commuter and when this trail is incapacitated by snow I must ride on streets with automobile traffic.  I prefer the trail.  I think Clive has been doing a better job keeping the trail snow free in the winter of 2013/14 than in years past.  I hope they continue to do so.

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