Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No to studded tires, bike lane expansion

Like many places in Oregon, Bend has its share of medical marijuana dispensaries.

And, apparently some "prominent" people here must be visiting Bend's Best Buds far too often.

How else to explain local support for continued use of studded tires and further widening bike lanes on  a seldom-used road not from 5 feet to 6 feet, but all the way to 8 feet on either side. WTF?

First, studded tires.

Some guy from "liberal" Portland is circulating a petition to place a studded-tire ban on the November 2012 ballot.


He has a good shot of getting it on the ballot and a great chance in seeing it passed since, as his website notes, 84 percent of Oregon drivers don't use studded tires. They get to work and back just fine without them.

Presumably, the other 16 percent live east of the Cascades where snow is far more prevalent in winter.

We all know studded tires cause damage to Oregon roads every year, but, it's less than opponents claim when compared to semi-trucks. Still, $40 million worth of damage annually is not insignificant.

Ironically, fiscally conservative eastern Oregon, which rails against government spending, doesn't care about government spending at all when it comes to the damage caused by studded tires.

The fact is that studded tires are not as good as the main alternative, studless snow tires. They're so effective that Costco stopped selling studded tires years ago.

As the "PreservingOregonsRoads" website notes, Alaska considers studless snow tires an acceptable alternative to studded tires. And, since it apparently needs to be pointed out, Alaska gets more snow than Oregonians can ever imagine.

Studded tires have a slight edge about 2 percent of the time: climbing an icy road uphill at slow speed. The other 98 percent of the time, studless snow tires are vastly superior, particularly on wet, slushy pavement, which is what we usually get here in Central Oregon.

I've used both tires in my 27 years driving on High Desert highways in front-wheel drive vehicles only. I have never used four-wheel drive to get around Oregon. I can say unequivocally that studless tires are far better than studded tires. They're great.

Contrary to an editorial in the local paper, studded tires provide no advantage in stopping.

Drive up to Mt. Bachelor in winter and you'll see plenty of four-wheel-drive SUVs on their sides or tops because those drivers thought they were invincible since they had studded tires. What a dangerous joke.

The big reason to ban studded tires is that it will finally expose the main culprit to Oregon's deteriorating roadways: heavy semis.

Oregon is one of the few states to allow triple-trailer semis on its roads and the weight of those rigs is causing at least $300 million worth of un-repaired damage to Oregon main highways every year.

Ban studded tires. We don't need them and we can finally force the trucking industry to pay its fair share in maintaining Oregon's roads.

Now, the bike lane issue is far less contentious, at least it should be.

Skyliners Road, that extends for about 10 miles west of Bend, is a seldom used roadway past Mt. Washington Drive.

The county, using federal dollars, is planning on expanding the bike lanes from 5 feet to 6 feet because cyclists like to cruise this long road that sees a vehicle every 10 minutes or so.

Bend is known for its bike events, both road and mountain bike races, and these cyclists like using Skyliners. I've biked it and it's a great ride since there are so few cars on it.

But, please, why on earth, in these fiscally desperate times, are we even considering widening the bike lanes to 8 feet that will cost an additional $250,000 that the county does not have?!

In fact, Deschutes County is so broke that it can't even maintain its current road system and is proposing oiling roads, rather than re-paving them.

Also, most roads in Bend don't even have sidewalks, let alone bike lanes of any width.

Consider that county workers just bargained for less pay and less benefits and now some local yokel thinks whatever money left in the bare cupboard should be used on expanding a bike lane to 8 feet. Again, WTF?

Or consider that we're laying off teachers, increasing class sizes and diminishing the education of our youth, why is expanding a bike lane from 6 feet to 8 feet even proposed?

I don't think we can blame marijuana on this. We can just blame ignorance.


  1. "Deschutes County is so broke...."
    I recently visited Bend for 2 days and must say that it certainly looks prosperous. Was particularly stunned by the beautiful Parks and Rec building, which looks like it must have been built with money from the best of times. I've never seen anything that nice on the west side of the Cascades.

  2. Feed the hungry and save a family by taking your time and money to do what is right instead of putting families with children at risk for loss of life because even with the best tires on their car it is too light and will ice skate not drive. You are all so very shallow. Focus on all the billions and trillions we are sending to war. Why don't you get a craw up your shorts for that one? Have you ever thought of perhaps laying off the booze?

  3. When did you all graduate High School? Get a life and grow up. Since when did human life become less important than your God? I know one thing for sure. When push comes to shove and someone plows into you when you come over to this side of the mountain.....I can see it are coming over to enjoy our beautiful mountain, when all of a sudden your thoughts of having a wonderful weekend end abruptly with a car that hit ice with the best studless tires one could get on and that car hits you head on......I can see the papers....A person that supported the studded tire ban is suing the studless tire company and the person that hit him because their vehicle, front wheel drive mind you, lost control. Or perhaps you will sue ODOT for not making a safer road....grow up and stop worshiping $$$$$$$. It will not save you or help you when you are hit by an out of control car. And please.....those that live in the snow certainly know how to drive in the snow. Why I do believe it is supposed to snow quite a bit in Portland this winter. Can't wait for the show. "Anyone have some real popcorn". Really! You sound like first graders.

  4. Since when do you know so much? Did you go inspect every vehicle that was off the road. Do you believe every person that reads your words says "Wow man this guy said all the four wheel drive vehicles had studs on them and that's why they wrecked man" response to your ignorance and please everyone lend an ear...."Just because he said this does not mean it is true" He is just a grumpy old man with nothing to do but whine...I bet you are one of those guys that drive around streets and call the police on cars parked on the side facing the wrong way...its ok....fess up now.

  5. Just a note, pot does not reduce ones ability to think. In fact, the reason it's illegal in your country is because it will make people stop, and think. And then The Company can't just operate blindly. Now booze... that kills more than just brain cells. Whatever.

    I can't take anything you say seriously... a WTF in your article? Ya, that's pro.

  6. This is pure nonsense.
    Studded tires on icy and snow paced roads are FAR superior to ANY snow tire without them.

  7. Why would you think triple-trailer trucks are "heavier" than dual trailer trucks? Two triples should cause no more road wear than three doubles, since each trailer is carrying the same average load. It's not like the tires are pressing down harder on the pavement in a triple configuration. Triples are more efficient, emulating trains to some degree.

    What really matters is the sheer volume of freight traffic, which increases along with population growth (the mother of all environmental problems).

  8. You're making broad generalizations about studded tires vs. snow tires and leaving out the details.

    Studded tires are best for driving on hard ICE, which regular snow tires can't bite into effectively. My understanding of how snow tires work is that they use the snow itself for snow-on-snow traction by holding it in the tread. That, plus a more aggressive tread pattern.