Thursday, May 10, 2007

Studded Tires

You know what drives me crazy? Drivers who put studded tires on their cars in the winter then keep them on until the last... possible... second...

Nova Scotia's Studded Tires Regulations allow studded tires on motor vehicles only, "between the 15th day of October in any year and the 30th day of April in the next year following." Now, I can't see any reason why anyone would want to put studded tires on their car as early as October 15th. As crazy as Cape Breton weather is, I've never seen conditions that would justify studded tires that early, and most people do tend to wait until late November, early December.

The people I have an issue with are those who leave them on until April 30th, long after every trace of ice and snow is long gone from the roads. There are even a few who don't bother to take them off until several days after April 30th. Even now, a full nine days after the deadline, I still occasionally hear the telltale crunching of studs on the tires of the vehicle pulling up behind me at a red light...

Why does this bug me so much?

In the winter, studs don't harm the roads much. The pavement is cold. It's therefore hard and unyielding. Studs have little effect on it. In any event, the roads are covered with ice and/or snow half the time, anyway, so the studs rarely even make contact with the pavement.

However, once the air starts to warm up, two things happen. First, the ice and snow melt away, so the studs make full contact with the pavement all the time. The bigger problem, however, is that the rising temperatures also soften the asphalt. As the asphalt gets softer, studs start to dig in to the road. Over time, this creates a "pebbling" effect. The digging in of all those studs effectively "roughens" the surface of the pavement.

When Kings Road was first reconstructed about a year ago, it was a joy to ride on. It was like rolling over glass, it was so smooth. Now, I feel like I'm rolling over a thousand marbles. Particularly in the right lane, no matter where I ride in the lane, the vibration is constant, and it's brutal in the left and right thirds of the lane where the tires of cars roll most often.

I don't have anything against the use of studded tires when necessary. My problem is with those who are irresponsible with them. I mean, winter is over! Take them off for crying out loud! Heck, studded tires have more rolling resistance, anyway, so they're murder on fuel efficiency! At today's gas prices, why would any driver want to keep them on?

Besides, they're damaging the roads that we all have to share.

Come on. Let's get those studded tires off, OK?

On May 10, 2007 1:25:33 AM ADT, Sue wrote:
[T]aking off your studs on time actually *causes* a late spring snowstorm just as surely as watering your lawn causes it to rain. :)
You should know that you're talking to someone who disdains superstition. :P That being said, I understand the concern. The thing is, though, that ordinary winter tires can make driving safer without the damage studs cause. That's another thing. Weather around here over the last two winters hasn't been nearly bad enough to even justify studs IMHO.

Besides. If one drives slowly and carefully, one can even get around safely on all season or even summer tires in snowy or icy conditions just for one or two storms. I know. I've ridden on my street slicks in stormy conditions. You have to slow down and use your back brake instead of your front, but it can be done if done with care. If a guy on a bicycle can do it, so can someone in a car. :P
But not switching and just going studless for the last storm or two of the season, can be downright dangerous for some of us who have mountain passes or icy stretches involved in almost any winter-weather driving.
OK. For mountain passes, I'll concede that it might be wiser to keep the studs on, but Kings Road is not in the Cape Breton Highlands. It's relatively flat its entire length and has a low speed limit. There's no reason to use studs on that road at all, and the highlands are 60 kilometers away. There's no way that there are enough people coming down from the highlands daily to account for the sheer amount of stud damage on Kings.

In either case, IMHO there is no justification for keeping the studs on beyond the legal limit. There's not a single flake of snow out there right now. The temperature is 11° C and it's supposed to go up to 20. The lowest temperature on the long range forecast overnight is Sunday's 0. Showers are predicted for Friday and Saturday, but no snow. So why am I still hearing the occasional studs on the road now...?

Like I said, it's the irresponsible use of studs outside the legal limit that irks me the most.

1 comment:

  1. I can see both sides of this one. On the one hand, I'm definitely with you on the damage to the roadways, for several reasons, including bicycling safety/comfort and also road repair economics, etc.

    On the other hand, at least where I live in the cold high desert of the western Great Basin, taking off your studs on time actually *causes* a late spring snowstorm just as surely as watering your lawn causes it to rain. :)

    And whether you're paying someone to do it for you, waiting in line at the company that does it for free, or changing those tires yourself, it's a big hassle to do it and then have to switch back to studs for a snowstorm and then switch back *again*. But not switching and just going studless for the last storm or two of the season, can be downright dangerous for some of us who have mountain passes or icy stretches involved in almost any winter-weather driving.

    So I agree, but I can see both sides.

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