How--and why!--to make a bicycle snowplow

OK, this definitely falls in the "hardcore" category--how to make a variety of bicycle-powered snowplows.  David Peterson writes:

Here in the midwest there are a few months each year when bicycling becomes rather difficult.  Early darkness can be overcome by a decent headlight, a reflective vest and blinking rear light.  Cold weather can be dealt with by layering up warm clothing.  The final hurdle in winter riding is dealing with the snow, particularly on the bike path.  Studded tires or chains help overcome the fear of ice. . . . 

After years of not having much success riding my road bike in the snow, I discovered the seat could be raised high enough on my daughter's mountain bike for me to ride comfortably.  Although the bike handled well in new snow, compacted, icy snow with hundreds of footprints and a few other bike tracks was a bit treacherous.  I soon realized the amount of time it would take me to shovel the bike path would be paid back in a few days of quicker and easier riding.

Bike snow plow
Bike snow plow

So he designed a rolling snow plow that was designed to be pushed, and then later a snow plow designed to be pulled by a bicycle, as show in the photo to the right. 

The results?

The plow does not remove the snow perfectly but it certainly is better than nothing at all.  

In general:
     - Dry pavement is easier to ride on than snowy pavement.
     - Thin snow is easier to ride on than deep snow.
     - Smooth snow is easier to ride on than lumpy snow.
     - Smooth ice is easier to ride on than lumpy ice.

Even during a cold spell when the temperature does not exceed freezing for many days, the plow track will be clear and dry in a day or two just from sublimation.  The plow does not have to scrape the pavement completely clean for this to occur.

Why did he do it?

There are many reasons why I decided to try to keep a clear path to ride on; the commute along the bike path is so much more peaceful than driving in traffic, it gives me an hour of (usually) low impact exercise at least 5 times a week, many of the side streets are plowed and the bike path is a small but critical portion of the ride, and so many other people can get out and use the path too.

Someone called into the Sound Off for the March 1, 2003 edition of the Kane County Chronicle and said "I want to thank the thoughtful person or persons who, after a snowfall, shovels a single-lane footpath along the east side bike trail between Fabyan and Batavia. It makes our morning walk less hazardous and more enjoyable."

The results are shown below. The plow clears a path just wide enough to bicycle or walk in. Peterson says that even the cross-country skiers thank him for clearing the path, as pedestrians and animals (as well as bicyclists) will use the cleared area rather than tramping in the ski tracks and ruining them.