Unfortunately, Snowpocalypse 2010 has put the brakes on bike commuting for the time being this winter.  If I can’t do it safely, I don’t do it, and the roads are not in good shape for biking.  I’ll be back out as soon as some of it melts, and/or I can find a safe route to take.

Over the past couple days, I’ve driven along some of my favorite bike-commuting routes, and here are my observations.

  • Lawyers Hill Rd and Levering Ave: Bare pavement, both lanes, a little narrow.  Doesn’t carry much traffic, so I would have no problem biking this.
  • River Rd between Lawyers Hill and Patapsco State Park: bare pavement, 1 lane wide.
  • River Rd park entrance: blocked by a giant mountain of snow and will probably be that way for a long time.  Access road hasn’t been touched.
  • US 1 between South St and Levering Ave: pretty good shape in both directions, but a couple spots where icy slush blocks the entire shoulder, which would necessitate riding out into the right lane.
  • Montgomery Rd between US 1 and Marshalee Ave: not too bad in most spots, but missing shoulder in places.  Would not feel comfortable biking this during rush hour.
  • Montgomery Rd between Marshalee Ave and Rockburn Dr: no shoulder.  Non-starter.
  • Rockburn Dr: one lane, poorly plowed and icy.
  • Kerger Rd: bare pavement, a bit narrow.  Could bike here.
  • Ilchester Rd between Kerger and Beechwood: Similar to south Montgomery.
  • Landing Rd: glanced at it while driving by on Ilchester, and what I saw did not look good.
  • Beechwood, Bonnie Branch and River Rds: single lane clear.  Could bike in a pinch, but not ideal.
  • Hilltop and Thistle Rds were both unplowed and closed off at River Rd.
  • Frederick Rd between River Rd and Oella Ave (Ellicott City Side): best of the lot.  Shoulders fully clear.
  • Oella Ave: single lane, not plowed very well.
  • Wilkens Ave from Rolling Rd to UMBC: decent shape, shoulder clear.  Bikeable.

On the way home, I’ll check out the conditions through Relay and Halethorpe.  But it looks like any route I take is going to be non-ideal, so I will have to pick the lesser of the evils.  Currently, that appears to be Lawyers Hill to Levering to U.S. 1, to South St and through Relay and Halethorpe (depending on what shape those roads are in; I’ll find out later today).

UMBC is cleared out as well as can be expected.  The head-in parking on Hilltop Circle works in my favor in these conditions, because to allow for parking, they have to clear the “buffer zone” between the road and the parking spots, which provides room to ride out of the travel lane.  Most, but not all, of the loop is clear.  But all the same, there are enough walkways clear that I can just cut through campus on foot if I had to.  All in all, they did a pretty good job.

On a totally unrelated note..  The other day I noticed that Home Depot was selling 50lb bags of Calcium Chloride “ice melter” pellets for around $17.  Calcium Chloride is among the more expensive alternatives for ice melter, and it’s not common to find it being sold as such at retail around here.  It is common to find it at swimming pool stores, where it’s sold as “Calcium Hardness Increaser”, often at prices of over $2 a pound.  So while $17 may seem like a lot to pay for 50lbs of ice melter, it’s an amazing bargain for 50lbs of  “Calcium Hardness Increaser.”  So, I picked up a bag to use in the pool this spring.  I would have bought more, but apparently I got the last bag in the store.