In support of snow tires and, hey, city, shovel your walks |

In support of snow tires and, hey, city, shovel your walks

Snow lingers Friday on the north side of the Glenwood Springs downtown parking garage.
Randy Essex / Post Independent |

In the Midwest, where I grew up and spent most of my life, people prep for winter as if they were going to run a marathon. They prep their psyche, make sure their gear is ready and carbo load. Well, they pretty much carbo load year-round. But when the snow comes, they go to war with it.

Here in the mountains, where we’d rather play in the snow, some folks seem to not have time for that sort of stuff.

Nonetheless, I definitely favor a couple of Midwestern-like ideas here in snow-loving Colorado.

1. The legislative bill co-sponsored by Carbondale Republican Rep. Bob Rankin that would require noncommercial vehicles to be equipped with adequate tires or chains between Dotsero and Morrison on Interstate 70 from Nov. 1 to May 15.

The other House co-sponsor, Democratic Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, said road delays and closures “cost, depending on whom you talk to, millions per hour.” Those economic effects harm commerce and tourism, and put people at risk.

Aspen Times editor Lauren Glendenning, then the regional reporter for Colorado Mountain News Media, reported last year that in the winter of 2013-14, 22 road closures on Vail Pass were caused by private vehicles, 18 of which had no snow tires or bad tires.

Sure, sure, you might complain about the nanny state and say that a law can’t prevent bad driving.

I’ll be transparent here and acknowledge that my support for this idea is strongly influenced by the fact that my year-old Prius just suffered more than $7,000 damage from being rear-ended just below the Eisenhower Tunnel. My wife, two staffers and I on Feb. 20 were traveling to Denver for the Colorado Press Association annual meeting (where the PI picked up 11 news awards, in case you missed that momentous news).

I had commented to my passengers as we drove through the Glenwood Canyon that my dad, who drove about 50,000 miles a year for his job in southeastern Nebraska — where snow doesn’t exactly bring smiles about powder days — had sold me on studded snow tires from the first minute I was a driver.

My wife and I just bought a fresh set in October, and I was happy to have them as traffic slowed on slightly snow-covered pavement where I-70 eastbound narrows from three lanes to two just west of the Continental Divide. Then, WHAM!

I didn’t inspect the tires on the Toyota Highlander that smashed me — it was snowing at 11,000 feet and the narrow window in my hatch was obliterated, so my goal was to exchange insurance information and get down the mountain, since my now open-air Prius was still drivable.

I’ll say this about Rankin’s bill: Anything that creates an incentive to have good tires and that raises awareness of the need to, oh, be careful and prepared when driving in the mountains in the winter has my support. Rankin says he needs a couple of Republican senators to get on board. Randy Baumgardner (who used to work for CDOT, which supports the bill), why the heck wouldn’t you?

2. I also am for the city of Glenwood Springs shoveling its own damn sidewalks when it snows. In the morning.

The city has an ordinance that property owners or occupants may not “allow any snow or ice to accumulate or remain upon the entire width of any sidewalk in the public right-of-way abutting such property longer than twenty-four (24) hours from the time of the last accretion of such snow or ice.”

It snowed Friday. The sidewalk on the north side of the city parking garage at Ninth and Cooper wasn’t shoveled until at least afternoon. While the city apparently didn’t violate its own ordinance, it didn’t exactly set a great example, either, nor has it at other times this winter.

I’m new to Colorado, but it appears that snow doesn’t melt in north-facing shaded areas here any faster than in the Midwest. See the accompanying picture.

The city also didn’t take a shovel to the sidewalk on Grand Avenue in front of Centennial Park. It was icy by mid-morning Friday.

Someone will fall and win a million bucks from the city at some point if it keeps this up.

I’m told that the city would say clearing the streets is a higher priority. Baloney. These well-traveled downtown sidewalks are not a big job. Clearing snow from them right away has real liability and health implications, and it makes a difference to residents and visitors.

If it takes the City Council members getting out there with shovels for 15 minutes, so be it. They just raised their pay effective after the upcoming election.

Maybe when it snows @GWSMayor could forgo tweeting to John Boehner and do something that will make government more effective in his own community. (I’m teasing, Leo. Sort of. The wreck made me crankier than even usual.)

Randy Essex is editor of the Post Independent.

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