In Calgary and throughout southern Alberta, road conditions can be treacherous in the spring. This is largely because of the materials used to maintain our thoroughways during the winter. The City of Calgary preemptively applies calcium chloride to major routes when significant snowfall is in the forecast, and salt is used to melt frozen precipitation when temperatures fall within a certain range.
The technique that poses the greatest risk to cyclists and motorcyclists, however, is the use of sanding chip mixture. When the road surface is below -5 degrees Celsius, a combination of salt (3 per cent) and fine gravel (97 per cent) is used to help drivers maintain traction. The problem is that this material remains on the road after the last snows have melted, and it can potentially create major hazards for riders of bicycles and motorcycles.
Keeping your Calgary auto insurance as low as possible means staying claim-free, and that means exercising extra caution during the spring if you’re headed out on two wheels.
Calgary Auto Insurance: Springtime Motorcycle Safety in Southern Alberta
For motorcyclists, riding onto a patch of sanding chip mixture is similar to a car gliding onto a sheet of ice. It becomes very difficult to maintain vehicle stability and traction, and all too often, an accident is the end result.
In addition to observing all the regular rules of motorcycle safety, here are a few extra pointers to help you stay safe this spring:
- Maintain an even speed. While you might be tempted to slow down when you hit the salt and gravel mixture, this can actually further destabilize your motorcycle. Steering becomes more difficult as your bike’s front suspension has to work harder. It’s best to maintain a safe, stable speed until you’re back on firm pavement.
- Position your body correctly. Keep your upper body relaxed, nimble and ready to respond. You should squeeze your legs and knees as close to the body of the motorcycle as possible without causing discomfort. The added pressure will help you maintain stability.
- Brake wisely. Generally, it’s best to avoid braking on sanding chip mixture, or any other gravel surface, unless it’s absolutely necessary. Keep your body as upright and straight as possible, and gently apply the brakes. Avoid braking too hard, and be careful about using your front brakes too aggressively.
In all the excitement that surrounds the return of warm weather, it can be easy to get carried away. There are a lot of other hazards that motorcyclists should be extremely caution about during the spring, including:
- Potholes – new ones often form over the winter
- Road edges – erosion, especially in rural areas with minimal road maintenance, can cause instabilities on the fringes of the road surface
- Animals – many creatures have just awoken from hibernation, and there’s a spike in the population of young animals in spring
- Water – melting snow and other sources of runoff can find their way onto roads, creating potentially treacherous riding conditions
To stay safe, increase your following distance so you have plenty of time to react and extra room to slow down. Avoid the temptation to ride too fast; after a long winter layoff, your riding skills may need some time to recover.
Calgary Auto Insurance: Bonus Tips for Cyclists
Cyclists should follow the same general tips for riding on fine gravel as motorcyclists. Avoid changing speeds on sanding chip mixture, position yourself to boost stability and be very careful when braking. Before you leave for your ride, double-check to make sure that your tires have adequate treads and are fully inflated, and that your brakes are completely responsive and operational.
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If you’re looking for Calgary auto insurance, visit Lane’s online for a fast, free quote. Also, remember that Lane’s offers money-saving insurance bundles that can save you as much as 20 per cent on your home and auto insurance. To learn more, or if you have any other questions, please contact a Lane’s Insurance customer service representative.